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Helping successful leaders get even better

Marshall Goldsmith (Professor at the Alliant International University, Santa Fe, California, USA.)

Business Strategy Series

ISSN: 1751-5637

Article publication date: 25 April 2008




This paper aims to describe the steps used to help any successful person change their interpersonal behavior at work and at home.


Provides a review of “before‐and‐after” studies with tens of thousands of coaching participants from large corporations, each in a different sector with very different competitive pressures.


There are four key beliefs that tend to differentiate more successful people from their peers, and some specific coaching approaches that are more effective in working with this population.

Research limitations/implications

While much more research needs to be done on this topic, there is a clear body of knowledge that can help make the best performers even better.

Practical implications

If successful people see the connection between their behavior change goals and their personal goals, they will be much more likely to change. Have the successful person receive input on one to two important, self‐selected behaviors as perceived by important, self‐selected raters. Then have the person involve these respected colleagues in the behavior change process. Finally, teach the successful person's colleagues to be helpful coaches, not cynics, critics or judges.


Most research on behavioral change has focused on dysfunctional behavior. In this paper, the author presents knowledge on the unique challenges involved in helping successful people, rather than focusing on dysfunctional people.



Goldsmith, M. (2008), "Helping successful leaders get even better", Business Strategy Series, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 95-103.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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