In a virtual keynote address to Inc. 5000 honorees this week, Goldsmith explained that while coaching leaders at companies such as Ford, Pfizer, and the Mayo Clinic, he learned that it's easy to dismiss the simplest of leadership strategies because they sound too easy. But it's often the simple strategies that make the biggest difference for founders because they're easier to commit to long-term.
"You're a CEO, you're a very busy person, you don't have a lot of time. If I gave you stuff that sucks up too much of your time, you're not gonna do it anyway," Goldsmith says, adding that this tried-and-true method is still one worth teaching today because of its proven success.
Here, Goldsmith shares a simple method to becoming a more effective leader.
1. Get in the habit of asking for input.
Goldsmith argues that leaders don't ask one simple question enough: How can I be better? Leaders should get in the habit of asking how they can be a better manager, team player, and salesperson. Many times, your employees and peers will point things out to you that aren't even on your radar.
Something he learned from management consultant Peter Drucker stood out to Goldsmith when it comes to asking for feedback. "He said, 'The leader of the past will have to [explain] to leaders of the future when they ask why we manage knowledge workers when they know more than we do," Goldsmith says. In other words, never stop learning from your employees and peers.
2. Listen to the input--don't debate it.
Once you ask for input, Goldsmith says to fight every urge to give your opinion and to instead listen intently. Whatever feedback you get, take notes, say thank you, don't judge, and don't make too many promises. Instead, Goldsmith suggests you say, "I'm going to involve you and the others involved and follow up with you."
One important thing for leaders to keep in mind is that leadership is not a popularity contest, and therefore you shouldn't feel obligated to satisfy everyone. "You never promised as a leader to do everything people suggest," Goldsmith says. "You promised to ask and listen."
3. Follow up.
This is where you act on what you promised. The key to making change, according to Goldsmith, is that you have to follow up and stick with it.
"You don't get better when you listen to a speech. You don't get better because you read a book," he says. "You have to work at it, follow up and stick with it."