Is Your Boss a Chief Critic Officer?

One of the bad habits that I talk about in my best-selling book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There is “Passing judgment: the need to rate others and impose our standards on them.” Some of you may have a boss who does this, some of you may do this yourselves. Let’s analyze this bad habit.

While, there’s nothing wrong with offering an opinion in the normal give and take of business discussions, because you want people to agree or disagree freely, it’s not appropriate to pass judgment when we specifically ask people to voice their opinions about us. In those moments when other people have passed judgment on advice they have solicited from me, my first thought is, “Who died and made you Critic in Chief?”

This is true even if you ask a question and agree with the answer. Consciously or not, the other person will register your agreement, and he or she will remember it with great specificity when you don’t agree the next time. The contrast is telling. The person thinks, “What was wrong with what I said? Why did I bother?”

People don’t like to be critiqued, however obliquely. That’s why passing judgment is one of the more insidious ways we push people away and hold ourselves back from learning what we may need to know to achieve greater success. The only likely thing that comes out of passing judgment on people’s efforts to help us is that they probably won’t try to help us again.

How do we stop passing judgment, especially when people are honestly trying to help us?

Try this: For one week – every time you feel like making a judgment, treat the idea that comes your way from the person with complete neutrality. Think of yourself as a human Switzerland. Don’t take sides. Don’t express an opinion. Don’t judge the comment. If you find yourself constitutionally incapable of just saying “Thank you,” make it an innocuous, “Thanks, I hadn’t considered that.” Or, “Thanks. You’ve given me something to think about.”

After one week, I guarantee you will have significantly reduced the number of pointless arguments you engage in at work or at home. If you continue this for several weeks, at least three good things will happen.

First, you won’t have to think about this sort of neutral response; it will become automatic – as easy as saying “God bless you” when someone sneezes.

Second, you will have dramatically reduced the hours you devote to contentious interfacing. When you don’t judge an idea, no one can argue with you.

Third, people will gradually begin to see you as a much more open-minded person, even when you are not in fact agreeing with them. Do this consistently and people will eventually brand you as a welcoming person, someone whose door they can knock on when they have an idea, someone with whom they can spitball casual ideas and not end up spitting at each other.

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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6 Triggers That Can Make or Break Your Success!

What if you could control your environment so it triggered your most desired behavior and steered you toward success?

This would mean that instead of blocking us from our goals, the environment would propel us toward them. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? It also sounds far-fetched. It’s not. To achieve “control” of the environment so it triggers our most desired behavior, we must first clarify the term trigger:

A behavioral trigger is any stimulus that impacts our behavior.

Within this definition, there are six distinctions that will help improve our understanding of how triggers influence our behavior.

  1. A trigger can be direct or indirect. Direct triggers are stimuli that immediately and obviously impact behavior. There are no steps in between the triggering event and your response. For instance, a child chases a ball into the street in front of your car. You slam on the brakes. Simple. Indirect triggers take a roundabout route to influence our behavior. For instance, you see a family photo, it triggers thoughts and memories – and you remember to call your sister.
  2. A trigger can be internal or external. External triggers come from the environment. Our five senses pick up on them, as well as our minds. Internal triggers come from our thoughts and feelings and are not connected with anything on the outside. Have you ever heard that “little inner voice”? That’s what I’m talking about here. It’s not prompted from the outside, but if it stimulates behavior, it’s as valid as any external prompt.
  3. A trigger can be conscious or unconscious. Conscious triggers require awareness. Hot plate – withdraw hand! Unconscious triggers are beyond our awareness. Most people are oblivious to how much the weather influences their moods. Respondents to the question, “How happy are you?” claimed to be happier on a perfect weather day than respondents to the same question on nasty weather day.
  4. A trigger can be anticipated or unexpected. Anticipated triggers are visible a mile away. For instance, we know right now that the National Anthem will be played at the Super Bowl next year. Unanticipated triggers take us by surprise, and often stimulate unfamiliar behavior, possibly even a drastic desire to change!
  5. A trigger can be encouraging or discouraging. Encouraging triggers push us to maintain or expand what we are doing. They reinforce us – like the finish line for a marathon runner. Discouraging triggers push us to stop or reduce what we are doing. Chatting in a theater and hearing a barrage of “Shhh!” is one such discouraging trigger.
  6. A trigger can be productive or counterproductive. This is an important distinction. Why? Because productive triggers push us toward becoming the person we want to be. Counterproductive triggers pull us away from that goal.

And, there you have them. Six distinctions of behavioral triggers that will help improve our understanding of how triggers influence our behavior.

Now it’s your turn. Try this exercise. It will make you smarter about specific behaviors and help you connect them directly to your behavioral successes and failures.

  • Pick a behavioral goal you’re pursuing: losing weight, being more patient, calling your parents once a week, etc.
  • List the people and situations that influence the quality of your performance / progress towards these goals. Stick to the trigger or two that relate to one specific goal. Define them. Are they encouraging or discouraging, productive or counterproductive, etc.?
  • Chart the triggers to see if you are on the positive or negative side of your goals.

While this exercise may not solve the puzzle of achieving behavioral change – it will point you in the right direction.

And, starting off in the right direction may be the greatest payoff in identifying and defining our triggers. It is an occasional but necessary reminder that no matter how extreme the circumstances, when it comes to our behavior, we always have a choice!

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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How To Be Your Best and Achieve Your Goals!

It sounds grand I know, “How to be your best and achieve your goals,” but it’s not. It’s simple. It’s a process and it takes time, but I have a tool that will help you if you’ll just decide to use it!

Time and again with my clients, students, and friends, I’ve shared this tool and the power that it has had to change my life and that of those who use it. It is a triggering mechanism, and its objective is to alter our behavior – for the better.

What is this tool? It’s called the Daily Questions Process. I do this self-questioning exercise every day, and I have for years. Every day I challenge myself by answering 32 questions that represent behaviors that I feel are important, but that are easy to neglect given the pressures that surround me every day. The number 32 isn’t magic, the idea is to just ask the number of questions that seems ‘right for you’. (If you’d like a copy of my questions, email me at marshall@marshallgoldsmith.com. There’s also a free app on iTunesthat you can use if you’re more digitally savvy!)

Each question is put on an Excel spreadsheet and is answered with a ‘yes’ (use a 1 to represent this on the spreadsheet) and ‘no’ (use a 0 on the spreadsheet) or a number. The process moves very quickly!

Here are some of the questions that I ask myself. Please remember my questions reflect my values, and might not work for you. Please use these just for example and write your own.

Did I do my best to:

Increase your happiness?

Find meaning?

Be engaged?

Build relationships?

Set clear goals?

Make progress toward goal achievement?

Here are more of the questions that I ask myself:

  1. How meaningful were your activities?
  2. How many minutes did you watch TV?
  3. How many hours did you sleep?
  4. How many sit-ups did you do?
  5. What is your weight?
  6. Did you say or do something nice for Lyda?
  7. Did you say or do something nice for the kids?
  8. How many alcoholic drinks did you have?
  9. How many minutes did you spend trying to change things you can’t control?
  10. How many clients are not up-to-date?

Some of my questions are about health, such as “How many sit-ups did you do?” (This works. Today I did 200 sit-ups at once. Not bad for a 68-year-old guy!)

Disciplined follow-up is the key to the success of my teaching and coaching. One question is “With how many clients are you current on your follow-up?”

My relationship questions include, “Did you say or do something nice for your wife? Your son? Your daughter?” I am certainly not a perfect husband or dad, but this process helps me get better.

This process works, because it forces me to look at and live my values every day. If I believe something matters I put it on the list and do it! If I really don’t want to do it, I can see the long string of 0s next to my daily attempts, face the reality that it isn’t going to happen, and let it go.

Now, you try it. What questions would you want to ask yourself, every day? Write them down. Even the process of writing questions will help you better understand your own values and how you live or don’t live them on a daily basis. If you really have courage, recruit a coach or friend and start asking daily questions to each other. You will be as amazed at the results!

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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What You Should Know about Making Excuses at Work

There is simply no excuse for making excuses at work – or anyplace else for that matter.

When you’re late to an appointment and you hear yourself saying, “I’m sorry I’m late but the traffic was murder,” stop at the word “sorry.” Blaming traffic doesn’t excuse the fact that you kept people waiting. You should have started earlier. You certainly won’t have to apologize for: “I’m sorry I’m early, but I left too soon and the traffic was moving along just fine.”

If the world worked like that, there would be no excuses.

I like to divide excuses into two categories: blunt and subtle.

The blunt, “dog ate my homework” excuse sounds something like this: “I’m very sorry I missed our lunch date. My assistant had it marked down for the wrong day on my calendar.”

Translation: “You see, it’s not that I forgot the lunch date. It’s not that I don’t regard you as so important that lunch with you is the unchangeable, non-negotiable highlight of my day. It’s just that my assistant is inept. Blame my assistant, not me.”

The problem with this type of excuse is that we rarely get away with it — and it’s hardly an effective leadership strategy. After reviewing thousands of 360-degree feedback summaries, I have a feel for what qualities direct reports respect and don’t respect in their leaders. I have never seen feedback that said, “I think you are a great leader because I love the quality of your excuses,” or, “I thought you screwed up, but you really changed my mind after you made that excuse.”

The more subtle excuses appear when we attribute our failings to some genetic characteristic that’s apparently lodged in our brains. We talk about ourselves as if we have permanent genetic flaws that can never be altered.

You’ve surely heard these excuses. Maybe you’ve even used a few of them: “I’m impatient.” “I always put things off until the last minute.” “I’ve always had a quick temper.”

Habitually, these expositional statements are followed by saying, “I’m sorry, but that’s just the way I am.”

It’s amazing how often I hear otherwise brilliant, successful people make willfully self-deprecating comments about themselves. It’s a subtle art because, in effect, they’re stereotyping themselves and using that to excuse otherwise inexcusable behavior.

Our personal stereotyping frequently comes from stories or preconceived notions about ourselves that have been preserved and repeated for years, sometimes going back as far as childhood. These stories may have little or no basis in fact. But they imprint themselves in our minds and establish low expectations that become self-fulfilling prophecies.

The next time you hear yourself saying, “I’m just no good at …” ask yourself, “Why not?”

This doesn’t just refer to our aptitudes at mathematics or mechanics. It also applies to our behavior. We excuse our tardiness because we’ve been running late all our lives, and our family, friends and colleagues let us get away with it. These aren’t genetic flaws. We weren’t born this way, and we don’t have to be this way.

If we can stop excusing ourselves, we can get better at almost anything we choose.

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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Three Things Successful People Do!

If you’ve read my best-selling book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, you know that most of us are successful in spite of certain behaviors. For instance, most highly successful people have the bad habit of Winning Too Much.

Winning too much is the #1 challenge for most people, because it underlies nearly every other behavioral problem. If we argue too much, it’s because we want our view to prevail (in other words we want to win). If we put other people down, it’s our way to position them beneath us (again, winning). If we withhold information, it’s to gain an edge over others. If we play favorites, it’s to gain allies so “our side” has an advantage. Our obsession with winning crosses the spectrum of our lives. It’s not just an issue in our professional lives, it works its way into our personal lives as well. It is incredibly difficult for smart, successful people not to constantly win.

Another classic behavioral challenge of smart, successful people is Adding Too Much Value. This bad habit can be defined as the overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion. A slight variation on Winning Too Much, Adding Too Much Value is common among leaders who are used to running the show. It is extremely difficult for successful people to listen to other people tell them something that they already know without communicating somehow that (a) they already knew it and (b) they know a better way.

These are just a couple of the behaviors that the most successful leaders I know work on to become even better. A lot of leaders choose to forego change, believing that they are “successful enough” and that change therefore isn’t necessary.

What makes the most highly successful leaders different is what makes them some of the greatest leaders in history. I believe there are three characteristics that differentiate good leaders from great leaders.

The first thing successful people do is have Courage. Great leaders have the courage to get feedback and to look at themselves in the mirror, honestly. This isn’t an easy task. To truly look at yourself and to ask for, accept, and act on feedback you receive from others, you have to have courage.

The second thing successful people do is have Humility. If you’re going to get better, then that means you probably don’t think you’re perfect. This is a great place to start. Think about it. It is very hard for perfect people to get better! For someone to change, he or she first has to have the humility to admit there is room for improvement.

The third and final thing that great leaders do is they have Discipline. To be a great leader, you have to have the discipline to follow up and do the hard work to keep getting better.

There you have it: the three must-have characteristics of very great leaders: Courage, Humility, and Discipline. Are you a great leader? Do you know a great leader? How would you describe a great leader? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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One Powerful Way You Can Stand Out!

Here is one powerful way that I stand out as an executive coach. I have a unique compensation system – I only get paid if my clients get better. And, “better” means my clients achieve positive, measurable change in behavior, not as judged by themselves but by their key stakeholders. This process usually takes about 18 months and involves an average of 16 stakeholders.

My coaching approach has been described in several major publications, such as Forbes and The New Yorker. Here it is in brief:

My mission is to help successful leaders achieve positive, long-term, measurable change in behavior: for themselves, their people and their teams. When the steps in the Marshall Goldsmith coaching process are followed, leaders almost always positive behavioral change — not as judged by themselves, but as judged by pre-selected, key stakeholders. This process has been used around the world with great success — by both external coaches and internal coaches.1

I always use the same proven process. At the beginning of any coaching relationship, I get an agreement with my coaching clients and their managers on two key variables:

  1. What are the key behaviors that will make the biggest positive change in increased leadership effectiveness, and
  2. Who are the key stakeholders that can determine (six to eighteen months later) if these changes have occurred?

Then I get paid only after my coaching clients have achieved positive change in key leadership behaviors and become more effective leaders. Unlike many other coaches, I do not get paid if my clients do not get better. And, as noted above, better is not determined by me, it is not determined by my clients, it is determined by my client’s key stakeholders. It is in this “pay-for-results” fee arrangement that I truly stand out from other coaches.

Paying only for results is a good way to test if someone really believes what they’re teaching you. Ask them one question, “Do you want to bet on it?” If they say, “I believe it but I wouldn’t bet on it,” they don’t believe it that much. If they say, “Here’s the money,” they believe it! My coaching process is based on something I believe in and I bet on it every time!

Many coaches are paid for the wrong reasons. Their income is a largely a function of “How much do my clients like me?” and “How much time did I spend in coaching?” Neither of these is a good metric for achieving a positive, long-term change in behavior.

In terms of liking the coach, I have never seen a study that showed that clients’ love of a coach was highly correlated with their change in behavior. In fact, if coaches become too concerned with being loved by their clients. They may not provide honest feedback when it is needed.

In terms of spending clients’ time — my coaching clients’ are all executives whose decisions impact billions of dollars — their time is more valuable than mine. I try to spend as little of their time as necessary to achieve the desired results. The last thing they need is for me to waste their time!

How do you stand out? What makes you special? What are you willing to bet on? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Please send me a message on LinkedIn! I am looking forward to your comments.

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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8 Steps to Super Charge Your Career!

The one thing you need to have a super-charged career today is – drum roll please – an executive coach. People often ask me: Why do top level, successful executives need a coach? They are already so successful, why would they need to get even “better”? Doesn’t having a coach mean they are not that good?

My answer is simple – think Serena Williams, James Harden, Tom Brady. They are good. Can you imagine that any of them do not have a coach? Of course not! Why shouldn’t successful executives have a coach? They are trying to get better or maybe to develop the next level of leadership and help them get better.

I’m very proud of the fact that how people view coaching has changed over the years. Thirty years ago, no CEO or executive would admit to having a coach. They would have been ashamed! Today, many CEOs share their experience with the world. For instance 27 CEOs endorsed my book Triggers. I coach these 27 people. They are working on getting better and they are not ashamed to state it publicly (in my book).

My coaching process doesn’t just work with the super-successful. My partners and I have trained hundreds of external and internal coaches who work with people at all levels. There may be no correlation between an individual’s standing in the corporate pyramid and what his or her co-workers think of his or her interpersonal skills. Middle managers can be just as arrogant and stubborn as CEOs – or just as open-minded. My target audience is the huge cohort of human beings who are already successful in their own way and want to become even more successful. You may be in this group!

So, say you have admitted you need a coach and your organization supports you. What does coaching look like? This depends on the type of coach you hire. If you hire a behavioral change coach like me, I won’t help you change strategy or business practices. I will help you achieve a positive, long-term, measurable change in your behavior. I’ll help you see that the behaviors and habits that have taken your to your current level of success might not be the behaviors and habits that will take you to the next level of success.

I train people to improve their behavior in the workplace – by enrolling them in a simple, yet challenging regimen. Here are the steps.

  1. First, I solicit 360° feedback from my client’s colleagues – as many as can provide valid information – from up, down and sideways in the chain of command, often including family members – for a comprehensive assessment of their strengths and challenges.
  2. I then let my clients know (in a way that protects the confidentiality of the interviewees) what everybody really thinks about them. Assuming that they accept this information, agree that they have something to improve and commit to changing behavior – I go to work and try to help them get better – at what they have chosen – and as judged by whom they have chosen.
  3. My clients learn to apologize to people concerning any mistakes from the past (because this is a great way to erase negative baggage associated with prior actions) and to ask their co-workers for help in getting better.
  4. My clients then advertise their efforts to change. As opposed to keeping their change efforts a ‘dark secret’, they tell everyone around them what they are trying to improve. If we don’t let people know that we are trying to change – and recruit them in our change process – they may never notice or appreciate what we are doing.
  5. My clients follow-up with all of the people around them to get ongoing suggestions. We have research on follow-up that involves over 86,000 respondents in eight major corporations. The findings from this research are crystal clear, leaders that follow-up in a disciplined way get better, those that don’t follow-up are not seen as changing any more than random chance.
  6. As an integral part of the follow-up process, I teach people to listen without prejudice to what their colleagues, family members and friends are saying – that is, to listen without interrupting or arguing.
  7. I teach people to express gratitude to everyone around them for what they are learning. Learning how to simply say “thank you” without qualifiers or embellishments can make a big difference.
  8. Finally, I teach people the value of feedforward, which is my “special sauce” methodology for eliciting advice from colleagues on how they can improve in the future.

It can sometimes be difficult for super-achievers to get over the hump and admit that they can benefit from changing behavior. If behavioral change can help them become more effective in their role, and if they are willing to stick with the steps in our coaching process and if they are given a fair chance – they will almost always get better – not only in their own minds but, more importantly, in the opinions of everyone they impact.

And, that is the spirit underlying all of my coaching. It is aimed at anyone who wants to get better – at work, at home, or any other venue. It will help anyone who wants to supercharge his or her career!

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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So, You Want to Be an Executive Coach?

As an executive coach, I help people understand how our beliefs and the environments we operate in can trigger negative behaviors. Through simple and practical advice, I help people achieve and sustain positive behavioral change.

My mission is simple. I want to help successful people achieve positive, lasting change in behavior; for themselves, their people, and their teams. I want to help you make your life a little better. With four decades of experience helping top CEOs and executives overcome limiting beliefs and behaviors to achieve greater success, I don’t do this for fame and accolades. I do this because I love helping people!

A number of years ago, a wonderful writer wrote an article about me which was published in The New Yorker. The writer’s name is Larissa McFarquhar and the title of the article is “The Better Boss.” In her article (the whole of which you can find here), Larissa describes me as an executive coach and a human being. It’s funny, entertaining and true. I get a great kick out of it. I hope that you enjoy it too!

Marshall Goldsmith is a happy man. He started out happy, he worked on his happiness, and now, at the age of fifty-three [I am 67 now!], he is very happy. He is, in fact, a happiness professional.

His official job description is “executive coach”: he trains executives to behave decently in the office, by subjecting them to a brutal regimen. First, he solicits “360 degree feedback” — he asks their colleagues and sometimes their families, too, for comprehensive assessments of their strengths and defects — and he confronts them with what everybody really thinks. Then he makes them apologize and ask for help in getting better. It’s a simple method — “I don’t think anybody’s going to say I’m guilty of excessive subtlety,” he says — but it works. It had better work. If it doesn’t, the client gets his money back.

Goldsmith is so extraordinarily buoyant and extroverted (he scored a perfect E on his Myers-Briggs personality test) that he seems to enter a room in a tinkle of magic dust. If he were shorter (he is nearly six feet), he would look like a leprechaun. His head is round and pink and bald, his eyes are blue, and his chin juts out and upward to meet his nose, like the chin of a wooden puppet. He skips more than walks, and when he is in a bouncy mood (which he usually is) he dances along with his arms straight out and swinging. When he laughs (which he does often), he sounds like a goose. He wears the same outfit every day: green polo shirt, khakis, and moccasins. His favorite movie is “The Wizard of Oz,” and his favorite song is “Over the Rainbow.” He ends his e-mails and his conversations with what has become his signature phrase: “Life is good!”

The leprechaun quality is one of the reasons Goldsmith is successful. It is a rare executive, after all, who welcomes a man sent by his boss to reform his personality. But people who have worked with Goldsmith call him “disarming,” and say that he seems so happy with his life that when he says he is not judging them personally they believe him.

Goldsmith won’t take on a client who doesn’t want to change — someone who, as he puts it, has not a skill problem but a don’t-give-a-shit problem — but, short of that, the more obnoxious the better. “My favorite case study was in the 0.1 percentile for treating people with respect,” he says. “That means that there were over a thousand people in that company and this person came in dead last. This person would be in an elevator and someone would come up and say, ‘Hey, how’s it going?,’ and he wouldn’t even respond. He was hardworking and brilliant; he didn’t lie, cheat, or steal. He was just a complete jerk. The case was considered hopeless, but in one year he got up to 53.7 per cent.

“You know how I helped the guy to change? I asked him, ‘How do you treat people at home?’ He said, ‘Oh, I’m totally different at home.’ I said, ‘Let’s call your wife and kids.’ What did his wife say? ‘You’re a jerk.’ Called the kids. ‘Jerk.’ ‘Jerk.’ So I said, ‘Look, I can’t help you make money, you’re already making more than God, but do you want to have a funeral that no one attends? Because that’s where this train is headed.”

And, it was at that moment when the executive realized what was truly important and began making an effort to change. This is what I do. I help people who really want to change do just that, change.

When I started executive coaching in the 1980s, I was a pioneer in the field and many clients kept the coaching a secret. Today executive coaching is seen as a privilege afforded to executives that companies wish to invest in to keep long-term. I am proud of this. I am proud to have helped coaching come into its own as an industry. And, if you want to be an executive coach, I hope I can be of help to you!

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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Why Some People Really Love Their Jobs! #1 Percentage of Likes!

Recently, I had the honor to interview one of the greatest leaders of our time, Frances Hesselbein. Frances is the former executive director of the Girl Scouts of America and is currently the chairman of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute. She is also one of my best friends.

Not only do I think Frances is an extraordinary leader, the great management thinker Peter Drucker once noted that she was perhaps the most effective executive he had ever met. As a tribute to her leadership skills, President Clinton awarded Frances with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award that can be given to a U.S. civilian.

Following is a short excerpt from our interview. In this brief discussion, Frances and I discuss our hopes for the future and she gives us her thoughts on what is really important in life and what makes her love her work so much.

MG: What are some of your hopes for the future? What opportunities do you see for leaders in the future?

FRANCES: I see a bright future. Leaders of the future are not content with repeating the past, so we must ask ourselves: How can we make a greater difference in the future? How can we support one another more? We do not want to repeat the past, so I want us to work very hard individually at describing the future that we desire.

MG: Frances, we’re in your office and the walls are lined with your amazing achievements. For instance, 23 honorary PhDs, many books and awards and pictures of you with presidents you’ve met. After all of these achievements you still come into work every day. Why is it that, after all you’ve done, you’re still working every day, doing your best?

FRANCES: Marshall, work is love made visible. I can’t wait to get to work every day. I’m here in the New York Office Monday through Thursday. Thursdays I often leave in the afternoon and go to my home in Easton where I spend Friday and Saturday, and Sunday morning come back. It is a wonderful balance for me.

You see, to me, work is love made visible. I can’t wait to get to work every day I am here. It seems impossible, but for either years our journal, the Leader to Leader Journal, has been the number one journal in the US and that is out of 1500 journals!

We give away as much as we can. For instance, we do global webinars. The other day we spoke to 400 women in 40 countries, leaders of the future, women in action. During the webinar, I had a message from six men who were leaders in one of the poorest African countries, one of the smallest countries. It said, “Dear Lady Hesselbein, may we register for your webinar for women? We are men who are leaders but we are hungry for your message. Please may we register?” Three minutes later, they had my reply: “Gentlemen, please know how welcome you are. Please register. There is no fee. And if you know any other men who are leaders in Africa who would like to register, please tell them how welcome they are.” Marshall, it’s such fun to give it all away.

MG: You know, Frances, one thing you said that really struck me–work is love made visible. Can you talk about your inner drive–the reason that you come to work every day, the reason that you want that love to be visible?

FRANCES: To serve is to live, Marshall. Just think how long that we have been battle-buddies. Just think when that cute little blond kid walked into my Girl Scout office with his plan for organizations. That was the beginning of our great adventure. I rarely worked abroad without my friend Marshall finding a way to move things around so that we could see each other. We are partners. Your family is as close to me as my own family. It is a beautiful life because we work together – that is “work is love made visible”.

If all we ever had together were lovely social occasions, it would have been very nice and lots of fun. But Marshall, you and I have worked together for…I can’t even count how many years, maybe 25 with this organization, and probably ten with the Girl Scouts. (I hasten to mention we were both 12 at the time began.) For us to be able to work together, for me to see the way you change lives, and the spiritual depth you bring to your work as well as your great intellectual gift. Our work together Marshall is love made visible.

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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How to Successfully Leave Your Job

Transitions such as quitting one job for another opportunity or retiring from your current career are usually far harder than we imagine. It’s easy to talk about letting go, but when the time comes, it’s hard to do. The emotional aspect of departing is difficult to fathom, but at a recent meeting I attended, a marketing exec put the dilemma in succinct terms to a group of us.

She said, “My job was my best friend. It’s very hard to leave your best friend,” I watched the expressive face of this fantastic leader as she shared her personal feelings about leaving her job and her organization. The other people in the room hung on her every word. “It seemed like I was getting promoted every few years. I loved the company, my co-workers, and our customers. Going to work was a joy for me,” she said, sighing. “And then one day, it was time to leave. It hurt,” she said. “An opportunity arose that I couldn’t pass up. I had to go.”

No matter where you are in your career or how you feel about your current job and colleagues, it is good to think about what you might want to do if you leave your present position and how it will feel to leave. For some people who are unhappy in their current position, they might think leaving will be only a happy experience. While this could be true, there may be a person or two you will miss when you go or a specific part of your job that you really enjoy doing. For those like our marketing exec, who love their jobs, leaving for another opportunity can be a very emotional experience, and it’s important to think these through before you make the jump.

Below are three questions to ask yourself as you consider taking the new opportunity.

  • Will I be making a contribution?
  • Will I find meaning?
  • Will it make me happy?

Next let’s think about retiring: today people live a lot longer than they used to, and they are a lot healthier at 65. Think about it: if you have the drive and energy to become a successful leader, it is unlikely that these traits will immediately stop when you leave your company, so you better plan for an active retirement!

I have found that most people don’t want to “do nothing’ all day. We have hopes and dreams, goals and ambitions. We want to contribute to the world, make it a better place, not “retire” from it to a life of “leisure”. For most of us, sleeping in late, lounging on the beach, improving our golf scores, and lazing about all day are great for a short time, but they hold little allure in the long-term.

The happiest “transitioned” executives I have met are still making a contribution to the world, they are finding meaning and contentment in what they do today—not just reflecting on what they did yesterday.

Think about “life after work,” and ask yourself these three questions:

  • How can I continue to make a contribution?
  • How can I find meaning?
  • What will make me happy?

You might have 20 or more years to live after your primary work is finished. How can you make this time count for yourself and the people around you?

Now is a good time to start planning.

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

Posted in Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog | Comments Off on How to Successfully Leave Your Job