Marshall Goldsmith’s 3-Step Process to Be a Better Leader

Famed executive coach Marshall Goldsmith explains why effective leadership can depend on how you respond to feedback.

The best advice is easy to understand, but difficult to execute, according to Marshall Goldsmith, executive coach and author of Triggers, mojoand What Got You Here Won’t Get You Therand.

In a virtual speech to Inc. 5000 honorees, Goldsmith explained that while coaching leaders from companies like Ford, Pfizer and the Mayo Clinic, he learned that it’s easy to dismiss the simplest leadership strategies because they seem too easy. But it’s often the simple strategies that make the biggest difference for founders because they’re easier to commit to over the long term.

«You are a CEO, you are a very busy person, you don’t have much time. “If I give you things that take up too much of your time, you’re not going to do them anyway.”says Goldsmith, adding that this proven method is still one worth teaching today because of its proven success.

Here, Goldsmith shares a simple method for becoming a more effective leader.

Goldsmith argues that leaders don’t ask themselves a simple question enough: How can I be better? Leaders should get into the habit of asking how they can be better managers, team players, and salespeople. Many times, your employees and peers will point out things that aren’t even on your radar.

Something he learned from management consultant Peter Drucker set Goldsmith apart when it comes to asking for feedback. “He said, ‘The leader of the past will have to (explain) to the leaders of the future when they ask why we manage knowledge workers when they know more than us,” says Goldsmith. In other words, never stop learning from your employees and peers.

Once you ask for an opinion, Goldsmith says to fight any urge to give your opinion and instead listen carefully. Whatever feedback you receive, take note, say thank you, don’t judge, and don’t make too many promises. Instead, Goldsmith suggests you say: “I’m going to involve you and the others involved and I’m going to follow up.”

Something important for leaders to keep in mind is that leadership is not a popularity contest and therefore you should not feel obligated to please everyone. “You never promised as a leader to do everything people suggest”says Goldsmith. “You promised to ask and listen.”

This is where you act on what you promised. The key to making change, according to Goldsmith, is that you have to track it and stick with it.

«You don’t get better when you listen to a speech. “You don’t get better because you read a book,” says. “You have to work at it, keep track of it, and stick with it.”