Learning By Dr. Marshall Goldsmith


Dr. Marshall Goldsmith has been ranked as the #1 Leadership Coach in the World and a Top Ten Business Thinker. He has been a pioneer in helping successful leaders achieve positive and lasting change in behavior. He has also written or edited 36 books including three New York Times bestsellers that have sold over 2.5 million copies and been listed bestseller in 12 countries.

Recently Dr.Marshall Goldsmith has been inducted into the Thinkers50 Management Hall of Fame – where he will be joining a select group of management thinkers that have made a profound contribution to coaching field.

Thinkers50 is also going to be introducing a new award – The Marshall Goldsmith Distinguished Achievement Award for Coaching and Mentoring – which will be presented in November 2019 at the Thinkers50 biennial ceremony. This award will recognize an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of executive coaching.

Q- You are one of the most favorite leadership thinkers of many CHROs and CEOs. What are things which matters most in Leadership and Life?

To continue our evolution in leadership and life, we must continue to learn. In the most positive sense, learning is power, and those of us engaged in lifelong learning—whether seven or seventy—are constantly enhancing our power. Our evolutionary journey is one of accumulating power so that we can help ourselves and others. This is the essence of leadership.

We have to be lifelong learners and continually gain power over:

  1. Health: What do we need to do to sustain good health, especially as our physical condition changes? What can we be proactive about and what should we be reactive about? What are only fads and myths and what is fact? What kind of physical activity is best for us?
  2. Money: How much will we need at different points in our life for what kind of lifestyle? How should investment strategies change? How much risk tolerance do I have and should I have? What kind of banking relationships should I create?
  3. Relationships: Are there long-term, poor relationships that ought to be repaired (or abandoned)? Are you developing new and appropriate relationships for you career? Are you making the most of relationships to expand your horizons, gain work, and grow?
  4. Happiness: Are you enlarging your sources of happiness? Can you synthesize happiness by making lemonade from lemons and a citrus industry from lemonade? Are you creating happiness for others and sharing yours with friends and family?
  5. Meaning: Happiness and meaning are interrelated. Too many of us believe that we are engaged in a search for meaning. The truth is that we should be oriented toward creating meaning. The creation of meaning involves the perpetuation of our own happiness.

Q- What are your suggestions to increase Leadership Effectiveness?

Here are some specific ways to increase your leadership effectiveness:

  • Get 360-degree feedback on your present level of effectiveness, as judged by co-workers you respect.
  • Pick the most important behaviors for change—those you believe will enhance your effectiveness as a leader—e.g., “become a more effective listener” or “make decisions in a timelier manner”).
  • Periodically ask co-workers for suggestions on how you can do an even better job in your selected behaviors for change.
  • Listen to their ideas—don’t promise to change everything—and make the changes that you believe will further increase your effectiveness.
  • Follow-up and measure change in your effectiveness over time.

Q- What are some of the more common reasons leaders, especially leaders of startups, fail?

My friend, Dan Levitan, managing partner of Maveron, a leading venture capital firm he founded with Howard Schultz president and CEO of Starbucks, says this,

Leaders may be headed for failure when:

  1. They don’t own the outcome. They are victims of circumstance and thus lose faith in their abilities.
  2. They are inflexible. Leaders and organizations need to be nimble and flexible to changes in the industry marketplace.
  3. They lose touch with the customer. Product fit and staying relevant to the customer is critical to success!

When negative factors impact our success, we may begin to get angry because, “It wasn’t my fault,” It isn’t fair,” “They didn’t tell me.”

This type of thinking is only going to lead to more failure!

Q- How can we learn from failure and become even more successful because of the experience? 

Rather than wallowing in what could have been and what should have been, here are four suggestions that you can try that will help you learn from failure and use it as the great teacher that it is.

  1. Realize that we all make mistakes. Everyone makes bad decisions sometimes. We are all just human! You don’t have to love everyone, just accept them for being who they are. Carrying around anger directed toward your co-workers, direct reports, or bosses does not help you, your company or the people who work with you.
  2. Forgive yourself. You are an adult. You chose to work with this company. In a way, you made a bet. Sometimes our choices don’t work out as we had planned; sometimes we need to change something to achieve success. This does not make you a bad person — just a human being. At a deeper level, the person you are in fact angry with may be yourself. Don’t be personally ashamed because of a failure. Own your performance. You have done your best!
  3. Assess the situation. One of greatest challenges for leaders is to let go. Objectively consider your situation. Given the organization as it exists today, do you want to stay? If so, make the best of where you are. Do you want to leave? If so, begin searching for another job.
  4. Remember your deeper mission in life. Behave in a way that optimizes benefit for yourself and the people that you love. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face by letting your anger over failing override your logic. I have seen many otherwise smart people make stupid decisions when they were angry. Don’t let this happen to you!

Q- Any Concluding remarks?

Truly successful people are happy because they lead lives full of meaning. There is meaning in their lives because they are happy. They realize the reciprocity between happiness and meaning. We need meaning and happiness to lead great lives. This is the essence of life-storming.

Thank You Dr. Marshall!


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