Can leaders improve?
Marshall Goldsmith is a management guru who regularly helps executives improve their leadership skills. He is a professor at Alliant International University, which named its graduate college of business after him. His major business innovation was "360-degree feedback," a method by which employees invite criticism. Time Magazine named Goldsmith one of the 100 most influential people in 2005.
He has co-edited or authored over 20 books, including the 2007 New York Times best-seller and Wall Street Journal #1 business book What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful. Goldsmith has a bachelor's degree from Rose- Hulman Institute of Technology, an M.B.A. from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. from the University of California Los Angeles.
Question: Are leaders born or made?
Goldsmith: Great question. Are leaders born or are leaders made? The answer is you have to have certain innate qualities to be qualified to be a leader. Once you are a leader, you can’t- the real deep question to me is can leaders get better? The answer is definitely yes. Everybody I work with is already a leader. Whether they should or should not be a leader you can debate but they’re a leader anyway. They are leaders. Well, the question is can they get better? If you look at our research with 86,000 people, the results are obvious. Leaders can make huge positive change in behavior. They can make huge positive change in effectiveness. Leaders can get better. Should everybody be in a management or leadership role? No. Some people have no interest in it. I have no interest in being in a management role. I have a company named after me. I neither own it nor manage it. I have a college named after me. I neither own it nor manage that. If you want to name your children after me, it’s okay as long as I neither own nor manage your children. Well, I just enjoy coaching, I enjoy teaching and I enjoy writing. That’s all I do. It doesn’t make a good person or a bad person. Some people like management. You know what they should do? Manage. Once you’re in leadership though, the question is can you be a better leader? Definitely yes. That’s what I do for a living and that goes back to what I talked about earlier. I help them figure out what they want to be, find out how they’re doing, get feedback, develop a rigorous and disciplined process for follow-up, and I actually measure do they get better. We have a very simple process called the mini survey process. We measure, do people get better at the right behaviors as judged by the right people and are they seen as becoming more effective overall as leaders? That’s what I do for a living.
Marshall Goldsmith provides insight into whether leaders can improve
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