Leadership Lessons From Marshall Goldsmith

Several months ago I spent a weekend with Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, #1 Leadership Thinker & Executive Coach (Thinkers50), filming a documentary about his life. I was invited along with several other executive coaches to be an advisor on the film. That included participation in a workshop in which Marshall shared “Best of Leadership” lessons with an interesting mix of ~100 people from around the world—business leaders, entrepreneurs, leadership experts, MG100.

Key among the lessons that Marshall discussed are the following:

  1. Leaders need to be coached on what to STOP doing, not just on what to do. What we decide not to do is as important as what we decide to do.
  2. Leaders need to be coached on constructive communication, avoiding comments such as NO, BUT, or HOWEVER.
  3. The Power of Follow Up — Follow up is a key driver of achieving a lasting change, especially a frequent follow up (“we are excellent thinkers but poor doers”).
  4. ‘Feedforward’ Exercise To help leaders get better at their developmental goals, it is helpful to engage the “system.” Have the leaders gather future-oriented suggestions from key stakeholders on how to become better at 1-2 areas they identified as developmental goals.
  5. Classical Delusions One of the classical delusions is the belief that “I will do that later as I don’t have time today.” You can count on the high probability of low probability distractions. Instead ask yourself the AIWATT question: Am I willing at this time to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic?
  6. ‘Wheel of Change’ Tool A powerful framework for behavioral change by making intentional choices about what we need to create, preserve, eliminate or accept in our lives. Those choices reflect the interchange of two dimensions: Making a change or keeping the status quo for elements that either help us or hold us back, while taking into account what we can or cannot change.

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