Posts Tagged ‘executive coaching’

7 Steps for Leadership Self-Confidence

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

One key factor in leadership success is self-confidence.  How can future leaders learn to demonstrate more of this?  Here are a few suggestions that I give leaders who have self-confidence issues.

1. Decide if you really want to be a leader. Many of the MBAs who report self-confidence issues are brilliant technicians. They often find the uncertainty and ambiguity of leading people very unsettling. They are looking for the “right answers” - similar to the ones in engineering school. In some cases, brilliant technical experts should continue to be brilliant technical experts - and not feel obligated to become managers.

2. Make peace with ambiguity in decision making. There are usually no clear right answers when making complex business decisions. Even CEOs are guessing.

3. Gather a reasonable amount of data, involve people, then follow your gut and do what you think is right.

4. Accept the fact that you are going to fail on occasion. All humans do.

5. Have fun! Life is short. Why should you expect your direct reports to demonstrate positive enthusiasm, if they don’t see it in you?

6. Once you make a decision, commit and go for it. Don’t continually second guess yourself. If you have to change course, you have to change course. If you never commit, all you will ever do is change course.

7. Demonstrate courage on the outside, even when you don’t feel it on the inside. We are all afraid on occasion — that is just part of being human. If you are going to lead people in tough times, you will need to show more courage than fear. When direct reports read worry and concern on the face of a leader, they begin to lose confidence in the leader’s ability to lead.

Life is good.

Marshall

https://MarshallGoldsmithLibrary.com

http://www.MarshallGoldsmithFeedForward.com 

UPCOMING EVENTS:

April 13, 2009 in New York City - IMS full day program

April 14, 2009 in Boston - Linkage: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There one day program

May 6, 2009 in Hanover, New Hampshire - Dartmouth one day program

May 11, 2009 in Chicago - Linkage OD Summit

June 16, 2009 in Chicago - Linkage: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There one day program

June 30, 2009 in Edinburgh - IMS full day program

July 1, 2009 in London - IMS full day program

July 2, 2009 in Manchester, England - IMS full day program

20 Key Habits

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

People who have read my book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There often tell me they found themselves several times in the book!

What habits could you stop that are holding you back from getting to the top?

Look at the list below to find the 20 habits I often find in successful people. I help successful leaders become even more successful by helping them stop these habits:

1. Winning too much: the need to win at all costs and in all situations - when it matters, when it doesn’t, and when it’s totally beside the point.

2. Adding value: the overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion.

3. Passing judgment: the need to rate others and impose our standards on them.

4. Making destructive comments: the needless sarcasms and cutting remarks that we think make us sound sharp and witty.

5. Starting with “No,” “But,” or “However”: the overuse of these negative qualifiers which secretly say to everyone, “I’m right. You’re wrong.”

6. Telling the world how smart you are: the need to show people we’re smarter than they think we are.

7. Speaking when angry: using emotional volatility as a management tool.

8. Negativity, or “Let me explain why that won’t work”: the need to share our negative thoughts even when we weren’t asked.

9. Withholding information: the refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others.

10. Failing to give proper recognition: the inability to praise and reward.

11. Claiming credit that we don’t deserve: the most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success.

12. Making excuses: the need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it.

13. Clinging to the past: the need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto events and people from our past; a subset of blaming everyone else.

14. Playing favorites: failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly.

15. Refusing to express regret: the inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we’re wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.

16. Not listening: the most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues.

17. Failing to express gratitude: the most basic form of bad manners.

18. Punishing the messenger: the misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually only trying to help us.

19. Passing the buck: the need to blame everyone but ourselves.

20. An excessive need to be “me”: exalting our faults as virtues simply because they”re who we are.

Source: ©2007 by Marshall Goldsmith, with Mark Reiter, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, pp. 40-41 Hyperion Books. Available from Amazon.com.

Life is good.

Marshall

https://MarshallGoldsmithLibrary.com

http://www.MarshallGoldsmithFeedForward.com

Marshall Goldsmith’s 24 books include What Got You Here Won’t Get You There  - a New York Times best-seller, Wall Street Journal #1 business book and Harold Longman Award winner for Business Book of the Year. His latest book Succession: Are You Ready? - is the newest edition to the Harvard Business ‘Memo to the CEO’ series.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

April 14, 2009 in Boston - Linkage: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There one day program

April 16, 2009 in New York City - IMS full day program

May 6, 2009 in Hanover, New Hampshire - Dartmouth one day program

May 11, 2009 in Chicago - Linkage OD Summit

June 16, 2009 in Chicago - Linkage: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There one day program

June 30, 2009 in Edinburgh - IMS full day program

Seven Steps to Boost Leadership Self-Confidence

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008


I was asked what advice I have for a leader when their boss says they need to exhibit more self-confidence while still being collaborative and authentic. This is a great question.

I rarely encounter this issue in my work with CEOs and potential CEOs because people at the top of huge organizations don’t often have self-confidence problems. But I have had several inquiries lately about helping future leaders who need to demonstrate more self-confidence.

Here are a few suggestions that I give leaders who have self-confidence issues:

1. Decide if you really want to be a leader. Many of the MBAs who report self-confidence issues are brilliant technicians. They often find the uncertainty and ambiguity of leading people very unsettling. They are looking for the “right answers” – similar to the ones in engineering school. In some cases, brilliant technical experts should continue to be brilliant technical experts – and not feel obligated to become managers.

2. Make peace with ambiguity in decision making. There are usually no clear right answers when making complex business decisions. Even CEOs are guessing.

3. Gather a reasonable amount of data, involve people, then follow your gut and do what you think is right.

4. Accept the fact that you are going to fail on occasion. All humans do.

5. Have fun! Life is short. Why should you expect your direct reports to demonstrate positive enthusiasm, if they don’t see it in you?

6. Once you make a decision, commit and go for it. Don’t continually second guess yourself. If you have to change course, you have to change course. If you never commit, all you will ever do is change course.

7. And finally, demonstrate courage on the outside, even when you don’t feel it on the inside. We are all afraid on occasion — that is just part of being human. If you are going to lead people in tough times, you will need to show more courage than fear. When direct reports read worry and concern on the face of a leader, they begin to lose confidence in the leader’s ability to lead.

Originally published in Harvard Business Online, 2008.

Life is good.

Marshall

MarshallGoldsmithLibrary.com
www.MarshallGoldsmithFeedForward.com

UPCOMING EVENTS:

December 2, 2008 in San Francisco - Linkage: “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” one day program

February 7, 2009 in San Diego - Society of Consulting Psychology and the Society of Psychologists in Management Annual Meeting,  San Diego Hilton, Mission Bay

March 19, 2009 - The New Reality of Business Conference - London

April 14, 2009 in Boston - Linkage: “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” one day program

June 16, 2009 in Chicago - Linkage: “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” one day program

 

High-Impact Performers

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

In Leader to Leader’s Premier Issue, I discussed retaining high-impact performers.

The workplace is changing. Job security isn’t what it used to be. We tend to focus, understandably, on the profound impact these and other workplace changes are having on the lives of individuals. But too often leaders overlook the equally profound impact these changes are having on their organizations.

The fact is, the “new work contract”- employees taking responsibility for their own careers, and corporations providing them with career-enhancing but impermanent opportunities-can be as difficult for organizations to manage as for individuals. We as leaders still understand little of the mechanics of retaining essential high-performers in turbulent times.

Our task is complicated by four additional, less widely acknowledged trends:

* The reduced status of working for a “Fortune 500″ corporation.

* The frequent lack of connection between pay and contribution.

* The decline in opportunities for promotion.

* The rise in the influence of the “knowledge worker”.

Peter Drucker has noted the dramatically increased importance of the knowledge worker in modern organizations. Yet we are often still unsure what that means for how we should lead. Bill Gates has said that Microsoft would do “whatever it takes” to attract and retain the brightest software developers in the world.

Innovative high-technology corporations (such as Sun Microsystems) pay employees large bonuses to recruit top talent. In tomorrow’s world the “intellectual capital” brought in by high-knowledge employees will be a major, if not the primary, competitive advantage for many corporations. As the perceived value of key knowledge workers increases, the competition to hire these workers will intensify.

A Strategy for Retaining High-Impact Performers

Leaders can no longer afford to let the vagaries of the job market determine who leaves and who stays with the organization. We must learn to manage our human assets with the same rigor we devote to our financial assets. The following seven steps can help you accomplish that task:

1) Clearly identify whom you want to keep.

In recent years many organizations have focused on those people they should get rid of rather than those they should keep. Many downsizing “packages” give all employees with similar levels of experience the same incentive to leave. Unfortunately-for the organizations-the employees who decided to leave were often the high-impact performers who could find other work quickly.

2) Let them know that you want to keep them.

Amazing as it may seem, many high-impact performers who are asked why they’ve left an organization report, “No one ever asked me to stay! ” Many organizations have deliberately not told high-impact performers that they were special in any way for fear of alienating others. In the future it will become increasingly easy to retain “average” performers and increasingly difficult to retain high-impact performers.

3 ) Provide recognition.

Although compensation is an important factor for retaining high-impact performers, several studies indicate that it is currently not “the” most important factor. Typically, the chief reasons great people leave major organizations are lack of recognition, lack of involvement, and poor management The CEO of a leading telecommunications company has recently embarked on an innovative approach.

Division-level executives provide a quarterly report on high-impact performers who should be recognized. The CEO calls these individuals personally, thanks them for their contributions, and asks for their input on how the corporation can increase effectiveness. The CEO believes this process not only helps retain key talent but also generates great ideas for continuous improvement.

4) Provide opportunities for development and involvement.

One of the world’s largest consulting/ accounting firms has embarked on an original program to identify and cultivate high-potential leaders. As part of the process, young leaders engage in an “action learning” project in which they work on real-life problems facing the firm.

This gives young leaders a fantastic developmental opportunity and gives the firm valuable input on solving real problems. It also enhances the young leaders’ commitment to stay with the firm. The firm’s leaders say that such a process would not have been tried just a few years ago, for fear of alienating other partners, but that today the firm has no choice but to identify and retain high-impact partners.

5) Challenge the compensation plan.

Organizations unwilling to make performance rather than mere seniority the key driver of pay will face an increasing challenge in keeping top talent, especially young talent. One Fortune 500 industrial company recently refused to implement a variable, performance-based compensation plan because half the employees felt uncomfortable with the concept.

The corporation neglected to measure which half felt uncomfortable with more differentiated pay; but my guess is that it was the lower performers. High-impact performers of the future will be able to demand and receive substantially more pay than their lower performing peers. A “socialistic” compensation plan combined with lowered potential for promotion leads to an “average” workforce.

6) Relax the culture.

In addition to reducing bureaucracy, high- performing, high-tech companies like Netscape, Sun Microsystems, and AT&T Wireless (formerly McCaw Cellular) are known for providing freedom in dress code, scheduled hours, and lifestyle choices. While employees work very hard, they appreciate the lack of rules, regulations, and restrictions that can inhibit their freedom without increasing their productivity.

7) Provide intrapreneurial opportunities.

Gifford Pinchot (inventor of the term intrapreneur) has shown how major corporations can provide opportunities for semiautonomous enterprises to operate within the larger corporate structure.

By allowing high-potential leaders to “run a business” inside a larger business, corporations can gain commitment while simultaneously developing people. People who see opportunities for “ownership” and personal development are much more likely to stay with the organization.

In the past when a high-impact performer in a major corporation was offered a position at another company, the employee was likely to say no. Most managerial and professional jobs offered good pay, job security, promotion potential, and status.

Today the high-impact employee is much more likely to say yes. To retain such talent in the future, organizations will need to take decisive action.

Only those organizations able to create a dynamic new human resource model will retain the high-knowledge talent needed to succeed in tomorrow’s globally competitive environment.

Life is good.

Marshall

UPCOMING EVENTS:

July 25, 2008: Join me for a special live conversation on Friday July 25th with Learn From My Life. This 60 minute will be driven by your questions and will enable us to drill deeper into the key behavioral changes that will make you a better leader and more accomplished individual.

August 1, 2008 - Dartmouth - Tuck Executive Program

August 25-26, 2008 - Indian School of Business - Hyderabad

September 15, 2008 - New York - SHRM - contact Marshall if interested

MarshallGoldsmithLibrary.com

www.MarshallGoldsmithFeedForward.com

Mission or Goal

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

In the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai, the main character, Colonel Nicholson, is a prisoner of war in Burma who leads his men to build a bridge for his Japanese captors. Nicholson is an officer of high integrity, dedicated to excellence, a great leader of people - and thus well trained to complete any mission that he is given.

So he skillfully inspires his men to build a near-perfect bridge. By the film’s end, he finds himself in the painful position of defending the bridge from attack by fellow British officers who want to destroy it - to prevent Japanese trains from using it.

There’s a chilling moment of realization, right before the bridge is detonated, when Nicholson (played by Alec Guinness) utters the famous line, “What have I done?” He was so focused on his goal - building the bridge - that he forgot his larger mission - winning the war!

That is goal obsession, which is a subset of wanting to win too much. It rears its ugly head in many ways. In its broadest form, it’s the force at play when we get so wrapped up in achieving our goal that, like Colonel Nicholson, we do it at the expense of a larger mission.

It’s one of those paradoxical traits that are usually the sources of our success, but taken too far can become blatant causes of failure. You see this when people become fixated on the wrong goals. Given their history of success, they end up achieving a result that does more damage than good to their organizations, their families, and themselves.

The canyons of Wall Street are littered with victims of goal obsession. I asked one hard-driving deal maker, “Mike, why do you work all of the time?” He replied, “Why do you think? Do you think I love this place? I am working so hard because I want to make a lot of money!”

I continued my inquiry, “Do you really need this much money?”

“I do now,” Mike grimaced. “I just got divorced for the third time. With three alimony checks every month, I am almost broke.”

“Why do you keep getting divorced?” I asked.

The answer came out as a sad sigh. “All three wives kept complaining that I worked all the time. They have no idea how hard it is to make this much money!”

This sort of classic goal obsession would be laughable if the irony — or more accurately, the failure to appreciate the irony — weren’t so painful.

One of the most ironic examples of goal obsession was the “Good Samaritan” research done by Darley and Batson at Princeton in 1973. In this widely referenced study, a group of theology students was told that they were to go across campus to deliver a sermon on the topic of the Good Samaritan.

As part of the research, some of these students were told that they were late and needed to hurry up. Along their route across campus, Darley and Batson had hired an actor to play the role of a victim who was coughing and suffering.

Ninety percent of the “late” students in Princeton Theology Seminary ignored the needs of the suffering person in their haste to get across campus. As the study reports, “Indeed, on several occasions, a seminary student going to give his talk on the parable of the Good Samaritan literally stepped over the victim as he hurried on his way!”

What’s happening here? Goal obsession clouded their judgment. They were under time pressure. They were in a hurry. They had deadlines. They were going to do something that they thought was important. Other people were depending on them. And in that hothouse of circumstances, their goals got warped. After all, when people committed to hitting their targets pick the wrong one — when they focus on the bridge and not the war — somebody may end up getting hurt.

Try this. It’s simple, but not easy.

Step back, take a breath, and look around.

Survey the conditions that are making you obsessed with the wrong goals.

Remember that time and deadline pressures come with being a leader. We confront them every minute of every day. They do not go away.

This makes it all the more important to reflect upon our work, match it up against the life we want to live, and consider, “What am I doing?” and “Why am I doing this?”

Ask yourself, “Am I achieving a task and forgetting my organization’s mission? Am I making money to support my family — and forgetting the family that I am trying to support?”

After all this effort and display of professional prowess, you don’t want to find yourself at a dead end, asking, “What have I done?”

Life is good.

Marshall

MarshallGoldsmithLibrary.com

www.MarshallGoldsmithFeedForward.com

Documenting Soft Values

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Measuring and documenting are a way of life in business. We keep close tabs on sales, profits, rate of growth, and return on investment. In many ways, part of being an effective leader is setting up systems to measure everything that matters. It’s the only way we can know for sure how we’re doing.

When you think of the importance we put on measurement, you would think that we would be more attuned to measuring the “soft-side values” in the workplace: how often we’re rude to people, how often we’re polite, how often we ask for input rather than shut people out, how often we bite our tongue rather than spit out a needlessly inflammatory remark. Soft values are hard to quantify but, in the area of interpersonal performance, they are as vital as any financial number. They demand our attention if we want to alter our behavior — and get credit for it.

When my children were young, I decided that I wanted to be a more attentive father. So I asked my daughter, Kelly, “What can I do to be a better parent?”

“Daddy,” she said, “you travel a lot, but I don’t mind that you’re away from home so much. What really bothers me is the way you act when you are home. You talk on the telephone, you watch sports on TV, and you don’t spend much time with me.”

I was stunned, because one, she nailed me and two, I felt like an oafish dad who had unwittingly caused his daughter pain. There’s no worse feeling in the world. I recovered quickly, however, by reverting to a simple response that I teach all of my clients. I said, “Thank you. Daddy will do better.”

From that moment, I started keeping track of how many days I spent at least four hours interacting with my family without the distraction of TV, movies, football, or the telephone. I’m proud to say that I got better. In the first year, I logged 92 days of unencumbered interaction with my family. The second year, 110 days. The third, 131 days. The fourth, 135 days.

Five years after that first conversation, even though I was spending more time with my family, my business was more successful than it had been when I was ignoring them. I was beaming with pride — not only with the results, but also with the fact that, like a skilled soft-side accountant, I had documented them. I was so proud, in fact, that I went to my kids, both teenagers by this time, and said, “Look kids, 135 days. What’s the target this year? How about 150 days?”

Both children suggested a massive reduction in “Dad time.” My son, Bryan, suggested paring down to 50 days. Their message: You have overachieved.  I wasn’t discouraged. It was an eye-opener. I was so focused on the numbers, on improving my at-home performance each year, that I forgot that my kids had changed too. An objective that made sense when they were 9 and 12 years old didn’t make sense when they were teenagers.

Soft-side accounting has other benefits. If you track a number, it will remind other people that you are trying. It’s one thing to tell your employees or customers that you’ll spend more time with them. It’s a different ball game if you attach a real number to that goal, and people are aware of it. They become much more sensitized to the fact that you’re trying to change. They also get the message that you care. This can never be a bad thing.

Everything is measurable, from days spent communicating with employees to hours invested in mentoring a colleague. All you have to do is look at the calendar or your watch — and count.

Once you see the beauty of measuring the soft-side values in your life, other variables kick in, such as the fact that setting numerical targets makes you more likely to achieve them. Another measurement that I tracked was how often I spent 10 minutes each day engaging my wife and each of my kids in one-on-one conversations. Ten minutes is not a long time, but it’s a significant improvement on zero. I found that if I measured the activity, I was much more likely to do it. If I faltered, I always told myself, “Well, I get a credit toward the goal, and it only takes me 10 minutes.” Without that measurable goal, I was much more likely to blow it off.

Life is good.

Marshall

MarshallGoldsmithLibrary.com

www.MarshallGoldsmithFeedForward.com