Marshall Goldsmith at AHRI National Convention

Marshall Goldsmith opened the 2010 AHRI National Convention with a highly interactive and thought provoking talk looking at how to be a better coach. Marshall began the session by saying his focus is to teach leaders what to STOP doing instead of teaching them what to do.

Marshall provided us 5 key challenges of successful leaders that they all need to overcome to be truly great:

  1. Winning to much
  2. Adding too much value
  3. Telling the world how smart we are
  4. “I already knew that”
  5. Passing judgement

He then went on to demonstrate that the key to solving each of these challenges is starting to think more about others than about you. For example, when you try to add additional thoughts and ideas someone’s idea the quality of the idea might go up 5% but their commitment to the idea goes down 15% as it is not longer their idea. Further focusing just on achievement is really all about focusing on me, whereas leadership is all about focusing on other people.

Marshal provided an amazing statistic that the percentage of all interpersonal communication time spent on people talking about how smart they are and people talking about how stupid, bad, inept others are is around 65%!! He did a quick survey of the room and found we felt the average was around 70%, very close. Essentially if business wants to increase productivity then just look to reduce this number as these activities are not revenue generating.

A great coaching tip from Marshall is he has found that creating an environment where people lose small amounts of money creates very large changes in behavior. For example, fining yourself $1/$5 or $10 whenever you do one of the following:

  • Start a sentence with no, but, or however
  • Start a sentence with Great, but or however
  • Give destructive comments about someone

He asked everyone in the room to raise their hands if they had said something negative about someone else in the last month that they didn’t really need to say, hands in the whole room went up. He then fined us all $1 we had to place it on the floor, proceeds went to breast cancer research. He had several very interactive and entertaining activities where we all learned how to give and receive feedback.

He suggests a really good question to ask to your coworkers and family is “How can I get better at work/home?” Unfortunately we don’t ask it enough as we don’t want to know the answer.

Marshall wrapped up the session talking a lot about while these practices are good in business they are critical in your personal life. The guy sitting next to me even mentioned how emotional he had felt during the session when talking about creating better relationships with your partners, parents and children.

All in all an awesome session.

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