What I Learned from a Near-Death Experience By Marshall Goldsmith...
“The morning got off to a good start. I am the mentor of one of the brightest, most enthusiastic young leaders in our firm. With her I was in the role of a positive and supportive coach – helping a great young person on the way up. It felt great.
My next meeting was with one of the top analysts in our industry. I need to be positive in projecting the future of our firm, but very careful to be realistic and not over-promise. With him, I was in the role of a serious communicator to our present and future stockholders.
My next interaction was fun. One of our divisions made record numbers. I had the pleasure of getting to thank them for all of their contributions. With them, I was in the role of a motivational speaker.
Then things got serious. I met with the Board and one of the members disagrees with me on a key element
of our strategy for the future. I think that he is wrong on this one, but I respect him, both as a person and as a representative of the ownership of our firm. At this meeting I was largely in the role of good listener.
The next one was really tough. Harry has been with us for twenty-five years. He has made a great contribution to the company. His performance has taken a huge dip in the last couple of years. To be honest, I have been avoiding having the tough discussion that I had with him today. With him, I was in the role of a manager who had to point out the painful potential consequences on non-performance.
My final half hour was even harder. Janet, who was one of everyone’s favorite marketing leaders, died unexpectedly at age 48. I just finished writing a letter to her family, communicating what a great person she was and telling them how much we will miss her. I was in the role of a mourner who was communicating his and his team’s deep sadness and loss with respect.”
Randy is a very thoughtful and caring leader. He said, “To deal with all of these scenarios every day, I have to learn to block out ‘where I have been’ and to be fully engaged in ‘where I am’. This is a lot easier in theory than in practice. In my world this takes incredible effort and can be exhausting.”
Randy is a great professional. This short narrative reveals how difficult it is for us to be positive and upbeat in one moment and then sad and reflective a few minutes later. As a leader, this is your job. You have to be a pro and you have to be authentic. Being the person that you need to be, when you need to be that person, does not mean that you are a phony. It does mean that you are a professional.