Leadership Tips: One On One With Dr. Marshall Goldsmith

I interviewed one of my favorite leaders, world-renowned business educator, coach, and two-time winner of the Thinkers 50 Award for #1 Leadership Thinker Dr. Marshall Goldsmith about his best advice

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Recently, I had the honor of interviewing one of the most legendary leaders I’ve come across in my career. Dr. Marshall Goldsmith. An author of 23 books based on leadership, coaching, and executive development, Dr. Goldsmith is the quintessential expert in providing insights for any leader’s success. One of the many qualities that set him apart from others in today’s leadership space is his value of generosity. His belief came to life while growing up in a small town in Kentucky. Marshall was in charge of the March of Dimes Bread Drive during his high school years.  The high school students were instructed to go door-to-door for fundraising. When someone contributed, they were to give a loaf of bread to the donor as a thank you for their contribution. Over time, Dr. Marshall discovered that he was more effective at fundraising when he presented the loaf of bread before asking for help. This gesture helped him understand that giving is the bridge to building a supportive community.

Divya: How do you continually develop yourself and continue to grow?

Dr. Marshall: I do three things: teaching, coaching, and writing. However, teaching is what I love the most. Coaching helps me learn a lot more than the other two activities do. Throughout my coaching career, I have continued to grow. I have worked with incredibly bright people who are continually trying to get better. The problems they face help me learn from them.

Divya: In your professional experience, what are the three most essential things leaders should keep in mind when managing change?

Dr. Marshall: My sole mission in life is helping already successful leaders achieve long-term change in behavior. My coaching process works all around the globe, and thousands of people have completed leadership certification through my coaching process. For me, the most essential factor to lasting change is your customer. Your client should be able to focus on three primary variables:

1.    Courage – When people have the courage to look in the mirror and get adequate feedback, awareness steps in.

2.    Humility – When people have the humility to admit that there is room for improvement, growth happens. One can never better themselves if they believe they are already perfect.

3.    Discipline – When people embrace the regimen of hard work, change happens.

Divya: If businesses can only afford to make one investment for their leadership teams, which would benefit them the most?

Dr. Marshall: Businesses should invest in their executive teams and high potential workers. The impact that a poorly functioning executive team has on any company is vast. Operational teams should learn how to give as well as receive feedback efficiently. I like to think of it as “feed forward” where they have the chance to focus on their future instead of the past. It is very little we can do about anything that has already occurred. 

High potential workers represent the future of any company. Investing in their growth as well as development is an investment in your business. When they get better, your entire company is going to benefit. I am all about follow-up and measurements by asking questions like “Are we seeing results?” or “Are things improving?”

Divya: Is there any specific kind of person who can change compared to someone who cannot?

Dr. Marshall: For me, it comes down to someone who is willing to change and wants to try, someone who is going to put in the time and effort in order to get better, who is eager to express regret for the mistakes they make, and who is enthusiastic to follow-up. If these conditions do not exist, whatever I do is never going to work.

I thanked Dr. Marshall Goldsmith for his valuable time and for sharing his wonderful insight, which undoubtedly is going to help many people who are looking forward to improving their leadership skills. For more information, visit his library of free resources.

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