Leaders: Stop Adding Too Much Value!

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Do you know who Marshall Goldsmith is? While some of you may already be familiar with Marshall (he only happens to be one of the most preeminent Executive coaches in the world), I first saw his work only 2 weeks ago, which is no surprise given my recent shift to executive/professional coaching. However, after my first taste of his content I know I will be back for repeat helpings. He has some great stuff and can squeeze it down to concentrate…..just the juice….and I want to share the wealth with you here.

This post on his video blog (after which this blog post is titled) caught my eye and is part of the series “Teaching Leaders What to Stop”.  The subtitle “Adding Too Much Value”had me scratching my head a bit. My first reaction was “Excuse me?” How can a leader add too much value?!018 AddValue1

Here’s how: When someone shares an idea with a smart, successful leader, the leader often has a pearl or two (some times many) that might truly improve that person’s idea. In fact, they usually do and are quick to share their thoughts with all good intentions.


Here is the reason: While the quality of the idea goes up 5%, the person’s commitment to executing the idea may go down 50%; it’s no longer my idea its your idea. It’s a classic example of wanting to help but doing just the opposite. The exponential negative effect on the person and their ability to execute shouldn’t be surprising, as it is the exact opposite of the Active Constructive Responding (ACR) principle (affirming and positively acknowledging what someone shares with you). The effectiveness of execution equation (following two bullets)given by Goldsmith makes it easy to weigh whether anything other than an affirming response from you will improve the likelihood that execution will occur:

  • What is quality of the person’s idea?
  • What is the person’s commitment to making it work?

When I reflected on how often I’ve done this to others I grow embarrassed and uncomfortable. But more importantly, I am aware of the need for change and how to go about it. Now I just need to execute.

Here is what you can do. Ask yourself:

  • How can I respond in an Active Constructive way?
  • Is what I am about to say worth it’s impact on execution?
  • Did they ask for my input?

Now, go execute and add some real value to those you influence.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

2 thoughts on “Leaders: Stop Adding Too Much Value!

  1. What a great wake up call. I can think of three or four times in the past month at my clinic where colleagues have proposed novel ideas only to see me add my two or three cents worth to decorate the idea to my liking. The sad part is I ASSUMED that because they were telling me about it they were asking for help, in reality they never did any such thing! I realize now that they were simply telling me to get my OK on the project and that my “advice” did nothing but deflate their enthusiasm and I saw of two of these projects dwindle quickly over the next few weeks. Apparently my leadership could use a good dose of zipping my lip every now and then! Thanks for turning the lights on this!

    • Jeff,

      Great job not only on the new awareness piece, but in then being able to connect the dots! Also a great example of perhaps improving things maybe 5 – 10%, but then seeing the dramatic drop in buy-in and the effect on results.

      Now that the “lights are on” for you here, the next switch to flip is “what’s one small next-step I want to take to do things different?”

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