Archive for February, 2008

Thought Leaders in Your Organization

Monday, February 25th, 2008

You know you have talent in your organization … do you have thought leader talent?

In the November issue of Leadership Excellence, Ken Shelton included a list of top 100 thought leaders in the leadership field, and ranked them using a list of seven criteria:

  • Academic and professional preparation
  • Character (including values , ethics, beliefs , purpose , mission , integrity, and walking the talk)
  • Principles (your big message, point of view, tenets, main points)
  • Personality (charisma, style, originality, authenticity, one of a kind)
  • Performance (inspiring action, real-world performance, work ethic)
  • Experience (national and international reach)
  • Expression (substance and style in writing, speaking, coaching, consulting, mentoring, training, or teaching)
  • Influence (making a difference, results, change, transformation)

In the February issue of Leadership Excellence, I wrote an article with Marilyn McLeod on the value of thought leaders in your organization.

You can probably identify leaders in your organization who have expertise in a specific area. Most thought leaders are specialists, and add value within their fairly narrow area of expertise.

Think of ways to tap their expertise for presentations, coaching, training, and mentoring. Consider their area of expertise, current position, achievements, publications, media coverage to date, and availability.

Now, look for opportunities for improvement within your organization and paint a picture of the value that thought leaders could add by applying their expertise in these areas.

Internal thought leaders can be chosen, in part, by their dedication to their specialty. Internal thought leaders can be even more specialized than external thought leaders by focusing on their company’s unique market and industry.

Thought Leadership comes from outside and inside. You may uncover opportunities for improvement that your internal experts aren’t fully prepared to address, so in some cases you may look outside your organization for expertise.

Internal thought leaders can speak at industry conferences, functional conferences, or market conferences that are important to their company. They can write in industry journals and company publications. They can work with external thought leaders on shared publications.

By knowing external thought leaders—and developing internal thought leaders—you can be better prepared to face the learning challenges of the future.

You can find the complete article at Leadership Excellence - ask for the November and February issues.

Life is good.

Thought Leadership - it comes from outside and inside.

Effectively Sucks Up

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

After reviewing over 100 custom-designed leadership profiles for major corporations –helping write over 50, I can say that one item I have never read is “effectively fawns over executive management.” While almost every company says it wants people to “challenge the system,” “be empowered to express your opinion,” and “say what you really think,” there sure are a lot of people who are stuck on sucking up!

Almost all of the leaders I have met say that they would never encourage such a thing in their organizations. I have no doubt that they are sincere. Most of us are easily irritated ─ if not disgusted ─ by derriere kissers. Which raises a question: If leaders say they discourage sucking up, why does it happen so often? Here’s a straightforward answer: Without meaning to, we all tend to create an environment where people learn to reward others with accolades that aren’t really warranted. We can see this very clearly in other people. We just can’t see it in ourselves.

So now you may be thinking, “This guy Goldsmith is right. It’s amazing how leaders send out subtle signals that encourage subordinates to mute their criticisms and exaggerate their praise of the powers that be. And it’s surprising how they can’t see themselves doing it. Of course, Goldsmith isn’t talking about me. I don’t do this in my company.” And maybe you’re right. But how can you be so sure that you’re not in denial?

I use an irrefutable test with my clients to show how we unknowingly encourage sucking up. I ask a group of leaders the following question: “How many of you own a dog that you love?” Big smiles cross these executives’ faces as they wave their hands in the air. They beam as they tell me the names of their always-faithful mutts. Then we have a contest. I ask them, “At home, who gets most of your unabashed affection?” The multiple choices: one, your husband, wife, or partner; two, your kids; or three, your dog. More than 80% of the time, the clear winner is — the dog!

I then ask them if they love their dogs more than the members of their families. The answer is always a resounding no. My follow-up: “So why does the dog get most of your unqualified positive recognition?” They reply with answers that all sound about the same. “The dog is always happy to see me.” “The dog never talks back.” “The dog gives me unconditional love, no matter what I do.” In other words, the dog is a suck-up.

I can’t say that I am any better. I have two dogs at home. I travel all the time, and the dogs go absolutely nuts when I return from a trip. I pull into the driveway, and my first inclination is to open the front door, go straight to the dogs, and exclaim, “Daddy’s home!” Invariably, the dogs jump up and down and wag their little tails. I give them a big hug. One day, my daughter, Kelly, was home from college. She watched my typical love fest with the dogs. She then looked at me disgustedly, held her hands in the air like little paws, and barked, “Woof woof.”

Point taken.

If we aren’t careful, we can treat people at work like dogs: by rewarding those who heap unthinking, unconditional admiration upon us. What behavior do we get in return? A virulent case of the suck-ups.

Here’s how leaders can stop encouraging this behavior. Begin by admitting that we all have a tendency to favor those who favor us, even if we don’t mean to. We should then rank our direct reports in three areas. First, how much do they like me? (I know you aren’t sure. What matters is how much you think they like you.) Second, what is their contribution to our company and our customers? Third, how much positive, personal recognition do I give them? In many cases, if we are honest with ourselves, how much recognition we give someone is more often highly correlated with how much they seem to like us than it is with how well they perform. If that is the case, we may be encouraging the kind of behavior that we despise in others. Without meaning to, we are basking in hollow praise, which makes us hollow leaders.

Life is good.


Adapted from Fast Company Issue 77 “All of Us Are Stuck on Suck-Ups”.

Upcoming Events with Marshall Goldsmith

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

As you may know I have 9.5 million frequent flier miles, which means I’m traveling much of the time.

I’m often asked for a list of my upcoming events, so I’ve decided to begin including information about upcoming public seminars in my personal blog.

I’ll make these separate posts, so you can read them if you like, or just look for the informational posts if you prefer.

Here is a start:

You can spend a full day with me and Linkage, Inc. - click here to register

Mar 18, 2008
New York, NY

May 12, 2008
Chicago, IL

I’ll be expanding on my newest best selling book, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful.”

You’ll learn some new strategies for how to attack problems that often come with success.

Here is what Linkage says:

At Linkage, we believe that the best leadership coaching occurs when helping individual leaders drive personal behavioral change against the backdrop of their business strategy. To that end, Linkage proudly presents What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, a practical 1-day program for leaders featur­ing coaching guru, Marshall Goldsmith.

As a participant, hear from Marshall Goldsmith about how to unlock the keys to your professional success. Learn to use proven tools and processes to identify the behavioral habits that stand between you and your next level of achievement in the context of your own professional environment. Leave empowered to change what keeps you from where you want to be. And reap the added benefits-by working to improve yourself as a leader-of naturally encouraging others around you to do the same.

Marshall’s one-on-one coaching comes with a six-figure price tag. In this 1-day event, get Marshall’s great advice without the hefty fee! Marshall Goldsmith was named one of the five most respected ex­ecutive coaches by Forbes and a top-ten executive educator by the Wall Street Journal. He has worked with some of the most influential leaders in Fortune 500 companies.

Click here to register for a full day Linkage seminar with Marshall Goldsmith either in New York or Chicago.


“What Happy Coaches Know” Webinar Series

Noon EST/9AM Pacific - second Tuesdays - look for me July 8th (click here to register)

Here is “What Happy Coaches Know” says:

“2008 What Happy Coaches Know” is a complimentary webinar series featuring top coaches including Marshall Goldsmith.

Coaching is a vital skill set in today’s competitive global economy. Being a leader is not enough. To succeed, you must optimize your performance and know how to imbue others in your organization with leadership skills through coaching strategies.

Practical, actionable insights are the focus of “What Happy Coaches Know”, a new webinar series the second Tuesday each month at noon EST/9AM Pacific. Co-hosted by Cathy Greenberg and Marilyn McLeod.

Find registration link here for “What Happy Coaches Know” webinar series.

Click here for webinar schedule and more information.