Marshall Goldsmith: ‘You Can Be More’

byDan Bigman, editor, Chief Executive.

Many people consider Marshall Goldsmith the best CEO coach in the world. And in his most recent column for Chief Executive, written with co-author Kelly Goldsmith, he shares one of the best coaching tips he’s ever received—and how you can deploy it successfully while leading your company.

What is it? Simple. Use four challenging words: “‘You can be more!” As the Goldsmiths write: “The greatest return on training and development can come from coaching top performers and encouraging them to be even better, as opposed to ‘fixing’ problem employees who are performing poorly.”

For chief executive officers, “it can be tempting to spend most of your coaching time working with people who have problems. There is nothing wrong with this, but you may be missing a much bigger opportunity.” Instead, they write, try this simple change in your leadership SOP:

  • Change your focus. Make a list of the highest potential leaders in your organization. People who are already doing a great job. They are “on a roll,” hitting the numbers and doing great work. They are not only comfortable; they are feeling great about their performance.
  • Challenge the best. For each one, think how you can deliver a “you can be more” message that might change their life in a positive way. Communicating that “you can be more” to a top performer is the ultimate form of positive recognition. You are recognizing how great they are doing now and communicating your belief that they have the capability of becoming even more.

Finally, they write, never stop applying “you can be more” to yourself. “Never get too comfortable,” they write. “If you want [your team] to become the leaders that they have the potential to be, let them watch you do the same thing.” Read the full column >

— Dan Bigman, editor, Chief Executive.

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