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Ownership, words by Marshall Goldsmith

April 21, 2016

Marshall Goldsmith, a bestselling author and world-renowned executive coach, has published a new book called Triggers.  In the book, Goldsmith examines the environmental and psychological triggers that can derail us at work and in life.

“Triggers provides the self awareness you need to create your own world, rather than being created by the world around you.”
— Alan Mulally, CEO of the Year (US) and #3 on Fortune magazine’s 50 Greatest Leaders in the World (2014)

Reading Triggers is like talking with Marshall. You get clear, practical, and actionable suggestions.”
–Ian Read, CEO, Pfizer

“Triggers inspires us to be better people, better leaders, better fellow travelers. ‘Creating behavior’ is our new battle cry for a bright future.”
Frances Hesselbein, President and CEO, The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute, 1998 Presidential Medal of Freedom Award Recipient

by Marshall Goldsmith

Marshall_GoldsmithOne of the biggest mistakes in all of leadership development is the roll-out of programs and initiatives with the promise that “this will make you better”. A classic example is the performance appraisal process. Many companies change their performance appraisal forms on a regular basis. How much good does this usually do? None! These appraisal form changes just confuse leaders and are seen as annual exercises in futility. What companies don’t want to face is the real problem – it is seldom the form – the real problem is the managers who lack either the courage or the discipline to make the appraisal process work. The problem with the “this will make you better” approach is that the emphasis is on the “this” and not the “you”. Coaching clients need to understand that ultimately only you can make you better.

Successful people tend to have a high need for self-determination. In other words, the more that leaders commit to coaching and behavior change because they believe in the process, the more the process is likely to work. The more they feel that the process is being imposed upon them or that they are just casually “trying it out” – the less likely the coaching process is to work.

Coaches and companies that have the greatest success in helping leaders achieve long-term change have learned a great lesson – don’t work with leaders who don’t “buy in” to the process. As coaches, we need to have the courage to test our client’s commitment to change. If clients are just “playing a game” with no clear commitment, we need to be willing to stop the process – for the good of the company and for the good of the coaching profession.

In goal-setting coaches need to ensure that the change objectives come from “inside” the person being coached and are not just externally imposed with no clear internal commitment. Coaches need to let clients know that they are ultimately responsible for their own lives. As coaches we need to make it clear that we are there to help our clients do the work – not to do the work for our clients.

Talent Management Strategist is the official blog of The Nielson Group.

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