Successful Leadership 101

May 12, 2014 1 Min Read

Recognised one of the Top 10 most influential business thinkers in the world and ranked top executive coach at the 2013 biennial Thinkers50 ceremony, Dr Marshall Goldsmith is without a doubt one of the most sought after speakers in the business world today.

In line with his upcoming Masterclass session on “Helping Successful Leaders Get Even Better: Developing Ourselves, Our Team and Our People” at the Asia HRD Congress in June, we asked Dr Goldsmith for his take on successful leadership.

Question: What are the three key attributes people must possess to continually develop themselves as a leader?

The three key attributes that are critical for continuous development as a leader are:

1. Courage – In order to develop themselves, leaders need to have the courage to ask for input on their performances and to listen to these input with an open mind.It is far easier to “hide from the truth” and pretend that everything is fine – even when it isn’t

2. Humility – In order to learn, leaders should have the humility to admit that they need to improve.With each successive promotion, humility becomes more difficult for two reasons:

• As we get more positive feedback – and feel better about ourselves – it becomes increasingly difficult to hear “bad news”.

• As we become more powerful, it becomes increasingly difficult for others to give us bad news.

3. Discipline – My research paints a clear picture. The leaders who develop themselves have the discipline to follow-up on their feedback and “stick with the plan”. The leaders that lack this discipline seldom achieve positive, lasting change.

Question: What are the three key attributes people must possess to continually develop themselves as a leader?

Three key misconceptions of what it means to be a successful leader are:

1. Always winning – At the lower levels of the organisation, it may be necessary to prove that you are a “winner”. At higher levels of leadership, we need to make other people “winners” and quit trying to always prove that we are right. Winning too much is a major challenge at the top

2. Always adding value – Effectiveness of execution is a function of:

(The quality of the idea) x (the implementers commitment to make it work)

3. Having all of the answers – Great leaders know how to delegate. One of the greatest leaders that I have ever met said, “Achievement may be all about me, but leadership is all about them. It is very difficult to make the transition from being a great achiever to being a great leader. Peter Drucker noted, “The leader of the past knew how to tell – the leader of the future will know how to ask.”
Leaders can get so wrapped up in trying to improve the quality a little (and adding too much value) that they may damage the commitment a lot.

Dr Marshall Goldsmith will be speaking at the Asia HRD Congress from June 9 to June 10 at the Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur. For more information please call Kim at +603 22969199 or email Click here for more articles.

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Hyma is a Special Education Teacher who is passionate about making an impact on the lives of children through education. Her hopes is to save the world, one child at a time. She was previously part of the Editorial team at

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