Guest AuthorMarshall Goldsmith

Coaching – A Super Idea for Any Startup!

By | Dr Marshall Goldsmith | #1 Leadership Thinker, Exec Coach, NYT Bestselling Author. Dartmouth Tuck Professor Mgmt Practice

Recently, my good friend, voted one of Boston’s Top 10 coaches by Women’s Business, executive coach and Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coach, Alisa Cohn and I sat down to talk about her area of expertise, coaching entrepreneurial leaders and startup organizations.

Below is the first of a series of excerpts from our interview, where we discuss the highlights of coaching entrepreneurial leaders and how it is different from coaching larger more established organizations.

I learned a lot from my conversation with Alisa, and I think you will too!

Marshall: First let me share some of my observations about coaching. One of the first things I’ve learned in coaching is that the most important part of coaching is picking great clients. In my coaching process, I work with people for a year or so, and focus on results. The great learning I’ve had is that I don’t get great results if I don’t work with great people.

So, to me getting great clients is very important. Alisa, what are some of your observations, reflections on coaching that you can share?

Alisa: Your point about picking people who want to change is so important. I love when people open up to changes and find possibilities they’d never considered. That is very rewarding to me. We all have blind spots. And, many of us are trying to overcome them, especially if you are into self-development, which of course, we are.

Marshall: One thing that I’m proud of is that 27 major CEOs endorsed my book Triggers. Thirty years ago, no CEO would have admitted to having a coach. They would have been too ashamed or embarrassed. Today, rather than be embarrassed, leaders are proud to have a coach.

Alisa our roles have been different in coaching. You’ve worked in big companies and you’ve also done a lot with startups. My experience with smaller companies is much more limited than yours. What are some of the experiences that you’ve had working with startup CEOs and startup companies?

Alisa: I agree with you that coaching has come out of the closet. The generation of people that I work with quite a bit are people who have lived with coaching and welcome it. These first-time leaders and founders recognize that they need help. Also, the venture capitalists and their boards are interested and engage with them in the coaching process. The culture values, appreciates, and accepts coaching.

The leaders I work with talk about their conversations with their coaches and they are really comfortable with the concept of this type of mentoring and growing. It translates to the organization as a whole and builds a culture where people want to get better and coaching is the way they see to do that.

Today, especially in startups, the environment is one in which people recognize that we’re all here to learn ourselves and from each other, and this creates a learning organization, which coaching really supports. Coaching has become the tool for organizational success!

Republished with permission and originally published at

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