May 26, 2015
Interviews: Marshall Goldsmith
"As a leader, you likely have a sincere desire to help and care deeply
about developing others. You have learned a lot, have great
qualifications, and believe in yourself.
Unfortunately, these positive qualities can get in our way when it comes to helping!"
ABOUT MARSHALL GOLDSMITHDr. Marshall Goldsmith has been recognized as one of the top ten Most-Influential Business Thinkers in the World by Thinkers50, and was the top-ranked executive coach at the 2013 biennial Thinkers50 ceremony in London.
He is the author or editor of 35 books, which have sold over two million copies, been translated into 30 languages, and become bestsellers in 12 countries. He written two New York Times bestsellers, MOJO and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There—the latter of which was a Wall Street Journal #1 business book and winner of the Harold Longman Award for Business Book of the Year. His new book, Triggers: Creating Behavior that Lasts—Becoming the Person You Want to Be, was published last week.
Dr. Goldsmith’s work has been recognized by nearly every professional organization in his field, and his global acknowledgments include:
- The Harvard Business Review—World’s #1 Leadership Thinker
- Institute for Management Studies—Lifetime Achievement Award (one of only two ever awarded)
- The American Management Association—50 great thinkers and leaders who have influenced the field of management over the past 80 years
- BusinessWeek—50 great leaders in America
- The Wall Street Journal—top ten executive educators
- Forbes—five most-respected executive coaches
- Leadership Excellence—top ten thinkers on leadership
- Economic Times (India)—top CEO coaches
- The Harvard Business Review (Poland)—Leadership Thinker of the Decade
- CEO Global (Canada)—World’s #1 Leadership Speaker
- The Economist (UK)—most credible executive advisors in the new era of business
- The National Academy of Human Resources—Fellow of the Academy (America’s top HR award)
- The World HRD Congress—global leader in HR thinking
- Tata Award (India) for Global HR Excellence
- Fast Company—America’s preeminent executive coach
- Leader to Leader Institute—Leader of the Future Award.
Dr. Goldsmith’s Ph.D. is from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management where he was recognized as the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. He teaches executive education at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. He is one of a select few executive advisors who have been asked to work with over 150 major CEOs and their management teams. He served on the Board of the Peter Drucker Foundation for ten years. He has been a volunteer teacher for US Army Generals, Navy Admirals, Girl Scout executives, International and American Red Cross leaders—where he was a National Volunteer of the Year.
Having coached so many illustrious executives over the years, he has learned many things. But the main thing, the starting point is that...
The greatest challenge leaders face is overcoming our own egos!
The greatest leaders make it about others, not about themselves.by Marshall Goldsmith
In my work, I have the opportunity to talk with many leaders every day and I am frequently asked the question, “What is the greatest challenge that leaders face?”
It’s simple: Our greatest challenge is overcoming our own egos.
As a leader, you likely have a sincere desire to help and care deeply about developing others. You have learned a lot, have great qualifications, and believe in yourself.
Unfortunately, these positive qualities can get in our way when it comes to helping!
Our Client’s Dedication Means More Than Our Wisdom
Of all of my coaching clients, the client who improved the most was the client with whom I had spent the least amount of time! He was the CEO of a huge organization and managed about 50,000 people. After our coaching engagement, I said to him, “I have spent less time with you than any client that I have ever coached, yet you and your team have shown the greatest improvement. What should I learn from my experience with you and your team?”
He thoughtfully replied, “Marshall, you should realize that success with your clients isn’t all about you. It is about your clients, the people who choose to work with you.” He continued, “In an important way, my situation is the same. I manage about 50,000 people. Every day, as a leader, I tell myself, ‘The success of our organization is not about me. It is about them-the great people who are working with me!'”
This remarkable leader was Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford, who was recently named #3 on Fortune’s list of the 50 greatest leaders in the world. Alan taught me a powerful lesson. That the difference in my clients’ improvements wasn’t about me, it was about them. The difference was about their dedication to achieving positive, lasting change-not my great insights or wisdom.
One of My Most Embarrassing Screw-ups
In spite of understanding the theory of ‘make it all about them, not you,’ I can still let my own ego get in the way of my work.
For example, I am sometimes honored by wonderful organizations and this makes me feel good! I love what I do, and when I am appreciated for it I feel great! Sometimes I cannot believe how lucky I am.
Although it is good to be thankful and grateful about our own lives, it is not always good to assume that our blessings are the major topic of interest for the rest of the world!
Some time back, after I received an award, I was interviewing the team members of a client executive that I was going to coach. I really loved the company and was looking forward to working with the executive. As I introduced myself to each team member during our one-on-one sessions, I was so enthusiastic about myself, the great honor I’d received, and my wonderful life that I forgot why I was there! The person who had hired me called to send her regrets, noting that the team thought I seemed to be more interested in myself than I was in them. To put it bluntly, I was fired!
I should have been fired.
And, that’s the lesson for today: The next time your start feeling ‘smart,’ ‘qualified,’ or ‘wise,’ remember this warning:
Get over yourself!!!
"Although it is good to be thankful and grateful about our own lives, it is not always good to assume that our blessings are the major topic of interest for the rest of the world!"
NEXTLearn more about the book in Part 2 and Part 3 of Marshall's Triggers video, and read our review of the book in our Jack Covert Selects series. Then, be sure to come back tomorrow for an interview with Marshall about some of the major themes of the book.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books, and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.