What Got You Here Won't Get You There

August 18, 2010 at 11:21 AM

As Executive Coaches we very often meet highly competent, ambitious, hard-working people who have enjoyed successful careers with regular promotions, but then, in a new role, that successful person seems to struggle. These people, who are still as intelligent, skilled and charismatic as they have ever been seem to fall at this hurdle.

Some people have referred to this syndrome as the 'Peter Principle' where it is argued that many people get promoted one step beyond them. This book helps to illustrate that it is very small nuances in behaviour that will make significant differences.

Marshall Goldsmith is arguably the pre-eminent Executive Coach in America, who charges six figure fees for working with many of the senior executives in leading companies and he has a vast experience in this field. You do need to get beyond the constant references to how much he does charge for working with people who themselves earn staggering amounts, but it is worth the effort.

Inevitably in a book of this nature he has to be relatively generalist in his approach, but the key to the book is to understand that there are small 'transactional flaws' performed by one person against another and that these can easily be identified and easily changed. These could be as simple as not saying 'thank you' or 'sorry' or not listening to people. He identifies 20 and it was actually pretty depressing for me to tick off all of those that I could identify in myself!

His advice for identifying and correcting these flaws is very straightforward and common-sensical but, as they say, the problem with common sense is that it's not all that common! For example, he identifies as one of the common issues in our relationships (whether in the boardroom or personal) is that we don't ask. Yes, that might sound simplistic, but how often do we actually try to solve issues without asking the other parties for their input?

What struck a real chord with me was his analysis that the easiest way, and consequently often overlooked by many people, to establish better relationships is to apologise. Apologise to those who have been hurt or let down by your flaws or shortcomings. This is simple certainly, but brilliant. Goldsmith says "I regard apologising as the most magical, healing and restorative gesture humans can make..."

There is plenty in this book, not just for senior executives, but for everybody who is concerned about their own flaws and how to identify them and how to correct them.



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Posted by Gracyn on
Hey, that post leaves me feenlig foolish. Kudos to you!
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Posted by Eternity on
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