Master the ‘Earning Response’ By Marshall Goldsmith Building good habits...
When I chose the 50 people for the first 10-week LPR experiment, I modeled myself on Noah filling his ark, with two of each species at most. A typical session had Jan Carlson, the CEO of Europe’s largest manufacturer of seat belts and other auto-safety systems, calling in from Stockholm; Gail Miller, a grandmother leading a sprawling family business in Utah; Nankhonde van den Broek, a 39-year-old nonprofit professional in Zambia taking over her late father’s business; Pau Gasol, the 39-year-old NBA star at the end of his career; Dr. Jim Downing, a surgeon running St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis; Margo Georgiadis, the CEO of Ancestry in Boston, who was in the process of working herself out of the job by selling Ancestry to a private equity group; and Marguerite Mariscal, the 31-year-old CEO helping David Chang reorganize his restaurant empire.
You might not seat these seven people at the same wedding table, but in a weekly group meeting where everyone shared the same self-improvement objectives, the chemistry was palpable. Diversity does that.
Group size is more a function of bringing in the right people and leaving out the wrong people. If you have any doubt that a possible choice will add value to the group, don’t ignore your concerns simply to fill out the group to achieve your idea of a proper head count. Better to leave out a candidate than to allow him or her to kill the group’s vibe. I’d recommend a group of no fewer than five people, no more than eight. And don’t let the meeting run longer than 90 minutes.
The LPR is not therapy. It’s a gathering of successful people with shared goals for the future, not a gripe session for unsuccessful people with problems. And by “successful” I don’t mean people measured solely by their impressive status, power, and paycheck. You’re looking for people of any and every stripe who share the same optimism about getting better. They are not victims or martyrs. Do that, and you’ll always have a roomful of equals where no one is too intimidated to speak up or too self-satisfied to listen.
Someone has to lead the group. If the LPR group was your idea, then you’re responsible for running the meeting, preferably with a light touch rather than a heavy fist. Otherwise, your LPR can become, as a fellow coach put it, “over-structured and under-facilitated.” In the same way that Alan Mulally was always the facilitator of his BPR meetings at Boeing and Ford (because it was his idea), my partner Mark Thompson and I were the facilitators in our LPRs. It’s more an administrative task—calling on people, moving things along, enforcing the “no judgment” rule, maintaining the safe space environment—than a coaching role.
Until the group learns to be self-governing, assume that everyone is looking to you to keep the train running on time.