Interview with Marshall Goldsmith
Joel Garfinkle: How do you develop yourself and
continue to grow?
Marshall Goldsmith: I do three things - teaching,
coaching and writing. Teaching is what I enjoy the most. However, coaching
is where I learn the most. My whole job of coaching is learning. I work
with incredibly brilliant people who are trying hard to get better and
this helps me see how hard it is. The problems they face and the challenges
they face. I look at this as continuing learning because every day I learn
Joel Garfinkle: Can you talk about how ego can
get in the way of effective coaching?
Marshall Goldsmith: That's the biggest problem
for coaches - getting out of our own ego. I think deep down inside we
want people to get better so we can look in the mirror and feel good about
ourselves. Most of the literature on coaching is very wrong. It implies
that clients improved because coaches did this or that or the other. I
haven't found that to be true at all. Clients get better largely because
of themselves. I wrote an article, "Don't Make It About the Coach."
The worst thing we can do as coaches is try to make it about the success
and failure of the product or the success and failure of what we do (as
coaches) or the message about our own wonderfulness. It's really about
the great client who works hard to get better.
Joel Garfinkle: Is there a specific type of person
who is able to change compared to someone who cannot?
Marshall Goldsmith: In my case it needs to be a
person who wants to change and is willing to try, who is going to put
the time and commitment to get better, who is willing to apologize for
mistakes, who is willing to follow-up, who is given a fair chance and
whose issues are behavioral. If those conditions exist than what I do
always works. If those conditions do not exist, what I do never works.
Joel Garfinkle: If one of my clients had two minutes
with you, what questions should they ask?
Marshall Goldsmith: They could ask, "How can
I achieve a positive, long term change in behavior?"
Joel Garfinkle: How would you respond?
Marshall Goldsmith: Find out who are the people
you respect, who are the key stakeholders and you ask them for imput.
You should listen to what they have to say, pick something important to
improve and agree with management that you picked the right thing and
the right people. Than apologize for all of your sins, involve them and
follow-up on a rigorous basis.
Joel Garfinkle: How does the critical, self-sabotaging
internal voice (the voice of self-doubt or lack of believing) limit your
Marshall Goldsmith: My clients don't have lots
of self-doubt. By the time I get to talk with them, they have plenty of
confidence. I never met a CEO who lacked self-confidence. On the other
hand, they limit themselves through personal stereotyping.
Joel Garfinkle: What do you mean?
Marshall Goldsmith: They think, "This is the
way I am." The problem is the more successful you become the more
positive reinforcement you get. You engage in the behavior, positive reinforcement
follows and you assume that the reinforcement must be associated with
the behavior. Sometimes the reinforcement is totally disassociated from
the behavior, but we don't think that way.
Joel Garfinkle: How do you work on being happy
regardless of circumstances? I know it's so hard to be effective when
things don't go the way we expect or our expectations are not met.
Marshall Goldsmith: It's about finding happiness
and contentment now. Never be happy with more or never be happy with less.
What you have is what you have. You can only find happiness now.
Joel Garfinkle: Anything else you want to share
with my newsletter readers and clients?
Marshall Goldsmith: Take a deep breath and imagine
you are 95 years old and ready to die. The 95 year old you understood
what was really important and what wasn't, what mattered and what didn't.
What advice would this wise "old you" have for the "you"
who is reading this interview? Ask two questions of this 95 year old:
(1) What professional advice would you have for me? (2) What personal
advice do you have for me? Whatever pops inside your head, just do that.