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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Coaching to the Next Level of Leadership

Amazon Book Review of Marshall Goldsmith's Bestseller: What Got You Here Won't Get You There.

Marshall Goldsmith's Declaration of Interdependence
By Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

Marshall Goldsmith is the Thomas Jefferson of executive coaching. Like Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, Goldsmith, with coauthor Mark Reiter, has crafted his own Declaration of Interdependence for leaders: What Got You Here Won't Get You There (Hyperion, 2007). Having read Marshall Goldsmith's work in the past, I'd consider his new book of wisdom his manifesto for successful people, one that acknowledges that good leaders need others around them to become great leaders.

Drawing from years of both academic and practical experience with CEO's and the C-level leaders, Goldsmith provides a treasure trove of wisdom in engaging, down-to-earth, classic Goldsmith prose. For example, when offering a strategy to a hypothetical client about how to be nicer (something many senior leaders could use a healthy dose of), instead of setting up an elaborate behavioral goal-setting system focused on "being nice," Goldsmith advises, "All you have to do is stop being a jerk. It doesn't require much."

In this new book, Marshall Goldsmith offers a great summary of his past theory and practice and much more. For example, we not only get a nice review of feedforward, Marshall's future-oriented process of seeking help from colleagues to change behavior, but we also get much more. I especially enjoyed The Twenty Habits chapter--knowing what to stop--the things leaders do that prevent them from getting from "here to there." Here are just a few bad habits; see if they don't ring true as barriers to leaders: "Winning too much: The need to win at all costs; Making destructive comments: The needless sarcasms and cutting comments that make us [leaders] sound sharp and witty; Withholding information: The refusal to share information to maintain an advantage over others." Goldsmith explains each of these in detail with clear examples.

I also enjoyed Section Three of the book containing the following useful chapters: Feedback, Apologizing, Telling the World, Listening and Thanking. In this section, Goldsmith teaches leaders how to get others around them to help them make necessary and important changes. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on apologizing--The Magic Move, as he so aptly names it. It took me many years to employ this particular skill--I'm still a work-in-progress, just ask my wife. Goldsmith describes it this way: "...I regard apologizing as the most magical, healing, restorative gesture human beings can make...without the apology there is no recognition that mistakes have been emotional contract between you and the people you care about...."

So let me finish this review with an open apology to Marshall Goldsmith:

I'm sorry for not having read your work earlier in my life. I'll try to do better in the future.

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