By Dr. Marshall Goldsmith
Most of us have difficulty articulating our struggles in a public forum, especially in the presence of our boss and peers. This probably stems from history we may have with bosses who said things like: “Don’t come to me with a problem, come to me with a solution!”
When you think about it this creates exactly the opposite of the environment an effective leader wants. If people have problems, you want to get them out on the table so you can help them find solutions.
The practice of executive coaching introduced corporate culture to an exciting new idea: the end of shame when it comes to needing help.
Under the guidance of a coach, it’s OK to admit what you don’t know and ask for help. My coaching process brings my clients’ shortcomings into the light, through a process of accumulating confidential feedback from their key stakeholders (colleagues, direct reports or board members, for example). If that sounds terrifying, it’s because most of us have been conditioned to hide our flaws for fear of punishment, reprisal or a rival seizing a competitive advantage.
A good coach takes away that fear, and uses feedback and self-analysis to guide clients toward positive and lasting behavioral change. The process works – which is one reason that I have seen the perception of coaching shift over the last three decades: Instead of a punishment, it’s now a mark of prestige to have a coach. It means you’re probably going places in your career.
Target transparency and applaud when you get it.
What I find so remarkable about my friend and colleague Allan Mulally is that he put these ideas into practice in across an entire organization – and in an intense, high-stakes setting. When he took over as Ford’s CEO in 2006, the company was in dire straits, with market share down 25 percent since 1990 and its very existence threatened by the great recession.
The story of how Alan turned Ford around is now well documented. The company was the only big-three automaker to emerge from the recession without a government bailout. When Alan retired from Ford in 2014, Fortune magazine ranked him as the third greatest leader in the world, behind only Pope Francis and Angela Merkel.
Dr. Marshall Goldsmith was recognized as the #1 Leadership Thinker in the World and the top 5 Management Thinker in 2015, as well as one of the top ten Most-Influential Business Thinkers in the World and the top-ranked executive coach at the 2013 biennial Thinkers50 ceremony in London. Dr. Goldsmith is the author or editor of 35 books, which have sold over two million copies, been translated into 30 languages and become bestsellers in 12 countries. His newest book is Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts—Becoming the Person You Want to Be, on sale May 2015 from Crown Business.
He has written two New York Times bestsellers, MOJO and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There – a Wall Street Journal #1 business book and winner of the Harold Longman Award for Business Book of the Year.