20Nov/130

Open Your Wallet – Open Your Mind!

Posted by Marshall Goldsmith

Open Your Wallet - Open Your Mind!
by Marshall Goldsmith

My coaching clients are either the CEOs or potential CEOs of multi-billion dollar corporations. Most are men; most are older and most are, by any normal standards, rich.

There is a common assumption that old rich men don't really care about losing small amounts of money.

Wrong!

From my experience, most old rich men don't like to lose any money.

It is not the amount of money that matters. It is the losing that they hate.

Have you ever watched a group of executives play competitive golf for wagers involving small amounts of money? It is amazing how serious and animated they become. Wagers at the race track are another example. One of my friends laughed as he described collecting his two dollar bet after the horse he picked won by a nose. Jumping up and down in his excitement, he spilled his Coke and ruined his hundred-dollar shirt!

As a coach, I use small amounts of money to help executives change behavior. It is astonishing how well this works! For example, if my clients are perceived as stubborn and opinionated, and they want to become more open-minded listeners, I 'fine' them every time they begin a sentence with the words 'no,' 'but,' or 'however.' All of the money that I collect from my fines is donated to the charity of my client's choice. Over the past 30 years, I have raised over $300,000 for great charities by playing this game with my clients.

Why fines for 'no,' 'but,' or 'however'?

The word 'no' means 'you are wrong,' and the words 'but' and 'however' mean 'disregard everything that came before this word.'  A friend once described these as 'eraser words.'

As I was reviewing a 360-degree feedback report with one of my clients, his first words were, "But, Marshall ..." I smiled and replied, "That one is free. If I ever try to give you advice again, and you begin a sentence with 'no,' 'but,' or 'however,' I am going to fine you twenty dollars!"

"But," he replied, "that's not ..."

"That's twenty!" I laughed.

"No, I don't ..." he refuted.

"That's forty!" I continued.

"No, no, no!" he protested.

"That's sixty, eighty, one hundred dollars for charity!" I gleefully exclaimed.

Within an hour, he was down $420. It took another couple of hours before he finally got the point and said, "Thank you. I did that 21 times with you bringing it to my attention. You annoyed me so much that I would rather have died than paid you the money. The words kept coming out of my mouth anyway. How many times would I have done this if you had not brought it to my attention? Fifty? One hundred? No wonder people think I am stubborn. The first thing I do when people try to talk with me is to prove that they are wrong!"

The positive change in this executive, who was then the COO and is now the CEO of the company, was amazing. Within a couple of years, he was perceived as much more open and receptive to new ideas—and much less stubborn and opinionated—by all of his direct reports, his co-workers, and even his family members.

I also fine my clients when they say, "That's great, but ..." or "That's great, however ..." These eraser words end up destroying the value of recognition. They make sure that the receiver knows that the 'great' part doesn't count for much.

A few years ago, I was teaching a class at the headquarters of a major telecom company.  I mentioned the 'That's great, but ...' problem and my use of fines to change behavior. I predicted that many members of the class would continue to say these words—even after hearing my lecture, and even knowing that I was going to fine them.

One of the men in my class mocked me when I made these statements. He thought that such a simple behavioral request would be easy for him. He was so sure of himself that he offered to donate $100 to charity every time he did this—and boasted that he would never have to make a donation.

I made a point of sitting next to him at lunch. When I asked him where he was from, he told me that he lived in Singapore.

"Singapore?" I said.  "That's a great city."

"Yeah," he replied, "it's great, but ..."

He gave me a very chagrined look, chuckled and paid the money.

The next time you want to help your clients change minor behavioral 'tics' that are annoying everyone around them, try fining them small amounts of money, and then give the money to a great cause.

It may create a win for your clients—and, at the same time, it will create a win for the world!

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (2007, Volume 3, Issue 2). Copyright © 2012 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Marshall Goldsmith, MBA, PhD, founder of Marshall Goldsmith Partners LLC, is a world authority on helping successful leaders achieve positive, lasting behavioral change. His executive coaching expertise has been highlighted in Forbes, Fast Company and Business Week. The most recent of his 22 books is What Got You Here Won't Get You There (Hyperion, 2007). Learn more about Marshall in the WABC Coach Directory. Marshall can be reached by email at Marshall@MarshallGoldsmith.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
22Aug/130

Warning! Warning! Warning to Coaches! Get Over Yourself!!! by Marshall Goldsmith

Posted by Marshall Goldsmith

Over the past 30 years, I have had the opportunity to teach hundreds of thousands of leaders, human resources professionals and external coaches about the process of coaching for behavioral change. I am frequently asked the question, "What is the greatest challenge faced by a coach?"  Over time, my answer has changed. Today it is very clear and simple.

As coaches, our greatest challenge is overcoming our own egos.

As a reader of this column, and potentially a WABC coach, you are probably a well-educated, experienced professional. You have a sincere desire to help people and care deeply about their developing into better leaders. You have learned a lot, and you believe that you have a lot to give to your clients. If you are successful, you are also probably good at selling yourself—pointing out your qualifications and noting how you can help leaders improve.

Having great qualifications and believing in ourselves are positive qualities, and proficiency at personal marketing and sales is a basic requirement for success in our field. However, these same positive qualities that have helped us to become successful ourselves can get in our way when it comes to helping others.

Our Client's Dedication Means More Than Our Wisdom

Of all of my clients, the client that was viewed as improving 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 taught me a powerful lesson. I have coached clients who, like him, have achieved dramatic improvements. I have also coached clients who didn't change at all. I, the coach, was the same. The difference was not that I was appreciably better or worse. The difference was their dedication to achieving positive, lasting change—not my great insights or wisdom.

One of My 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.

I was recently honored by Alliant International University (formed by the merger of the California School of Professional Psychology and United States International University). They decided to name their schools of business and organizational studies the 'Marshall Goldsmith School of Management.'  Our school's mission is to be a world leader in practical training related to the human side of organizations.

I love what I do, love my family, love where I live and love our new school. Everyone who knows me sees that all of my emails end with 'life is good.' I was brought up in a very poor neighborhood. 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!

Shortly after this school naming 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, our new school and my great 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.

Learning for WABC Coaches

Wise people learn from their mistakes. Wiser people learn from others' mistakes. Learn from my stupid mistake!  Don't get so wrapped up in your own ego that you forget why you are there. Never forget that client success is more a function of their dedication than your wisdom. Don't make the coaching process about you—keep it all about them.

One of the greatest coaches that I have ever met has the fewest credentials—on paper. In fact, I am not sure that he could even 'make it' as a WABC coach. On the other hand, he keeps getting great results with his clients. Why?  He makes coaching about helping them learn from their direct reports, co-workers and family members. He plays the role of a caring facilitator rather than a 'know it all' expert.

The next time your start feeling 'smart,' 'qualified,' or 'wise,' remember this warning.

Get over yourself!!!

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Spring 2007, Volume 3, Issue 1). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
17Jan/130

Coaching Great Leaders: The Building Blocks of Mojo

Posted by Marshall Goldsmith

By Marshall Goldsmith

The pursuit of happiness and meaning is short when we realize that they can be found when we achieve two straightforward goals: loving what we do and showing it. I call this Mojo and all of the successful people I know have it. It is apparent when the positive feelings toward what we are doing come from inside us and are evident for others to see. In other words, there's no gap between the positive way we perceive ourselves-what we are doing-and how we are perceived by others.

Four vital ingredients need to be combined in order for you to have great Mojo.

1.      Identity: Who do you think you are?

This question is more subtle than it sounds. It's amazing to me how often I ask people this question and their first response is, "Well, I think I'm perceived as someone who..." I stop them immediately, saying, "I didn't ask you to analyze how you think other people see you. I want to know who you think you are. Taking everyone else in the world out of the equation, including the opinions of your spouse, your family, and your closest friends, how do you perceive yourself?" What follows is often a long period of silence as they struggle to get their self-image into focus. After people think for a while, I can generally extract a straight answer. Without a firm handle on our identity, we may never be able to understand why we gain-or lose-our Mojo.

2.      Achievement: What have you done lately?

These are the accomplishments that have meaning and impact. If you're a salesperson, this might be landing a big account. If you're a creative type, it could be coming up with a breakthrough idea. But this too is a more subtle question than it sounds-because we often underrate or overrate our achievements based on how easy or hard they were to pull off.

3.      Reputation: Who do other people think you are?

What do other people think you've done lately? Unlike the questions about identity and achievement, there's no subtlety here. While identity and achievement are definitions that you develop for yourself, your reputation is a scoreboard kept by others. It's your coworkers, customers, friends (and sometimes strangers who've never met you) grabbing the right to grade your performance-and report their opinions to the rest of the world. Although you can't take total control of your reputation, there's a lot you can do to maintain or improve it, which can in turn have an enormous impact on your Mojo.

4.      Acceptance: What can you change, and what is beyond your control?

On the surface, acceptance-that is, being realistic about what we cannot change in our lives and accommodating ourselves to those facts-should be the easiest thing to do. It's certainly easier than creating an identity from scratch or rebuilding a reputation. After all, how hard is it to resign yourself to the reality of a situation?

You assess it, take a deep breath (perhaps releasing a tiny sigh of regret), and accept it. And yet acceptance is often one of our greatest challenges. Rather than accept that their manager has authority over their work, some employees constantly fight with their bosses (a strategy that rarely ends well). Rather than deal with the disappointment of getting passed over for a promotion, they'll whine that "it's not fair" to anyone who'll listen (a strategy that rarely enhances their image among their peers). Rather than take a business setback in stride, they'll hunt for scapegoats, laying blame on everyone but themselves (a strategy that rarely teaches them how to avoid future setbacks). When Mojo fades, the initial cause is often failure to accept what is-and get on with life.

By understanding the impact and interaction of identity, achievement, reputation, and acceptance, we can begin to alter our own Mojo-both at work and at home.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2010, Volume 6, Issue 2). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Marshall Goldsmith, MBA, PhD, is a world authority on helping successful leaders achieve positive, lasting behavioral change. His executive coaching expertise has been highlighted in Forbes, Fast Company, and Business Week. He is the WSJ and NYT best-selling author of What Got You Here Won't Get You There(Hyperion, 2007). His most recent book is Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, and How to Get It Back If You Lose It. Learn more about Marshall in the WABC Coach Directory. Contact Marshall.
If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
20Sep/120

Coaching Great Leaders: Praise Is Good! By Marshall Goldsmith

Posted by Marshall Goldsmith

One of my clients taught me a simple yet effective system for getting better at providing positive recognition. The first year I reviewed this executive's 360 feedback report (feedback from his direct reports and coworkers), he scored in the 6th percentile for providing recognition (in other words, 94 percent of the people in his company were seen as being more effective than he was). Within one year, he had moved all the way up to the 94th percentile for providing recognition (now—in a complete reversal—only 6 percent were seen as scoring higher than he did).

Given this dramatic turnaround in scores I asked, "Please let me know what you did differently. Whatever it was, it worked. I would like to share it with all of the people that I teach."

His answer provided a road map that I have never seen fail.

  1. List the names of the key groups of people who impact your life-both at work and at home (customers, coworkers, friends, family members, etc.).
  2. Write down the names of the people in each group.
  3. Post your list in a place you can't miss seeing regularly.
  4. Twice a week—once on Wednesday, once on Friday—review the list and ask yourself, "Did anyone on this list do something that I should recognize?"
  5. If someone did, stop by to say "thank you," make a quick phone call, leave a voice mail, send an email, or jot down a note.
  6. Don't do anything that takes up too much time. This process needs to be time-efficient or you won't stick with it.
  7. If no one on the list did anything that you believe should be recognized, don't say anything. You don't want to be a hypocrite or a phony. No recognition is better than recognition that you don't really mean.
  8. Stick with the process. You won't see much impact in a week, but you will see a huge difference in a year.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2009, Volume 5, Issue 3). Copyright © 2012 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.