Leadership Is a Contact Sport
The “Follow-up Factor” in Management Development
by Marshall Goldsmith and Howard Morgan
Leadership is not just for leaders anymore. Top
companies are beginning to understand that sustaining peak performance requires a firm-wide commitment to developing leaders that is tightly aligned to organizational objectives — a commitment much easier to understand than to achieve. Organizations must find ways to cascade leadership from senior management to men and women at all levels. As retired Harvard Business School professor John P. Kotter eloquently noted in the previous issue of strategy+business, this ultimately means we must “create 100 million new leaders” throughout our society. (See “Leading Witnesses,” s+b, Summer 2004.) Organizational experts Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard have defined leadership as “working with and through others to achieve objectives.” Many companies
are stepping up to the challenge of leadership development and their results are quite tangible. In Leading the Way: Three Truths from the Top Companies for Leaders (John Wiley & Sons, 2004), a study of the top 20 companies for leadership development, Marc Effron and Robert Gandossy show that companies that excel at developing leaders tend to achieve higher long-term profitability. But it sometimes seems there are as many approaches to leadership development as there are leadership developers. One increasingly popular tool for developing leaders is executive coaching. Hay Group, a human resources consultancy, reported that half of 150 companies surveyed in 2002 said that they had increased their use of executive coaching, and 16 percent reported using coaches for the first time.
Illustration by Robert Goldstrom
Marshall Goldsmith (marshall @marshallgoldsmith.com) is a founder of Marshall Goldsmith Partners, a leadership coaching network. He has worked with more than 70 major CEOs and their management teams and is the author or coauthor of 18 books on leadership and coaching. His most recent book is Global Leadership: The Next Generation (Financial Times Prentice Hall, 2003).
Howard Morgan (howard@ howardjmorgan.com) is the founder of 50 Top Coaches, a collective of many of the world’s leading executive advisors. He specializes in executive coaching as a strategic change-management tool. He is co-editor of the forthcoming book The Art and Practice of Leadership Coaching: 50 Top Executive Coaches Reveal Their Secrets (John Wiley & Sons, December 2004).
Yet even “executive coaching” is a broad category. In reviewing a spate of books on coaching last year, Des Dearlove and Stuart Crainer identified at least three types of coaching: behavioral change coaching, personal productivity coaching, and “energy coaching.” (See “My Coach and I,” s+b, Summer 2003.) Our own upcoming book, The Art and Practice of Leadership Coaching: 50 Top Executive Coaches Reveal Their Secrets (written with Phil Harkins, to be published by John Wiley & Sons in December 2004), includes discussions about five types of leadership coaching: strategic, organizational change/execution, leadership development, personal/life planning, and behavioral. Given the increasingly competitive economic environment and the significant human and financial capital expended on leadership development, it is not only fair but necessary for those charged with running companies to ask, “Does any of this work? And if so, how?” What type of developmental activities will have the greatest impact on increasing executives’ effectiveness? How can leaders achieve positive long-term changes in behavior? With admitted self-interest — our work was described in the Crainer–Dearlove article, and is frequently cited in reviews of and articles about leadership coaching — we wanted to see if there were consistent principles of success underlying these different approaches to...