Today I listened to a 15-minute Harvard Business Review IdeaCast interview featuring executive coaching guru, teacher, and author Marshall Goldsmith, author of the Ask the Coach blog on HarvardBusiness.org and the recent book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.
In the interview, Goldsmith answers some questions that have come up on his blog.
One of the issues he covers is how to influence your boss. The assumption is that the challenge here is not related to managing a team, but rather dealing with the boss and upper management in general. Goldsmith says one important concept that is “incredibly simple” is nonetheless very poorly understood. Everything, he says, revolves around one variable: who has the power to make the decision. It’s not about who is right or better looking or anything else, but who has the power to decide. “As obvious as that sounds, it’s amazing how few people get this.” When you’re dealing with your boss, or bosses, you have to sell the idea. They have the power. “The first thing to do when selling to upper management is think like a salesperson.”
In another part of this same interview, Goldsmith addresses the changing nature of leadership. He describes a study of qualities of leadership past and future. Some of the elements were the same — integrity, for example, and communicating a vision. But they found five new qualities of leaders in the future:
A blog reader suggested that another quality of leadership is “learning agility.” Given that the world we live in seems to change more quickly than ever, leaders have to be able to adapt more quickly, and that means learning fast and well. Goldsmith adds also that asking — as in asking people for input, listening to opinions and suggestions of others — is a critical factor in leadership in today’s world. Leaders who ask for input, listen, respond, and follow up are the new leaders. They don’t just communicate down,they listen up.