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Published on: Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Follow the Leader: Marshall Goldsmith


"Mojo" is not among the words executives and recruiters use when we survey them about the specific attributes of leadership, yet executive coach and management expert Dr. Marshall Goldmsith claimed it for his latest book, MOJO: How to Get It, How to Keep It and How to Get It Back When You Lose It.

Goldsmith defines Mojo as "that positive spirit — toward what you are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside," and he associates identity, achievement, reputation and acceptance as the four key factors that impact personal and professional Mojo.

Recently, Goldsmith presented an interactive program for ExecuNet members, as well as an interview with our editorial team on the issues that were most pressing to senior-level corporate leaders and talent managers. Here's an excerpt:

Q: Does having Mojo guarantee business and career success?
Goldsmith: Definitely not. There are few guarantees in life. For example, you may have incredibly positive Mojo toward leading your sales force. If your competitors come up with substantially better products — at substantially lower prices — it really won't matter.

We all have real physical, intellectual or environmental limitation. There is no amount of Mojo that can lead me to becoming a professional basketball player. Mojo will never guarantee your success. It can substantially improve your odds!

Q: How should anyone in the business of recruiting executive talent measure candidates' Mojo? Can you interview and select top talent based on their Mojo? Is it really a determinant of future success in a senior management role?
Goldsmith: In recruiting candidates, ask questions about their experience of happiness and meaning in prior work that closely resembles the work that they will be doing with your organization.

The greatest leaders of people that I have ever met all have exceptionally high Mojo. They love what they are doing. They are not "victims" or "martyrs." They communicate this positive spirit to the people they lead.

Mojo is clearly a key determinant for success in any people leadership role. What message does any leader send when their Mojo is low? Being with you and in this company makes me miserable. I find this work and being with you meaningless. Why would anyone want to be led by someone with low Mojo?

Q: Executives sometimes have to "coach up" and give feedback or guide their more senior counterparts. How can one "Mojo up?"
Goldsmith: Several pages of the book are dedicated to this topic. My summary advice is simple: Learn to sell. Treat important decision-makers as customers. Enjoy the process of "selling up." Sell what you can. "Make peace" with what you cannot sell.

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Robyn Greenspan's avatarRobyn Greenspan
Robyn Greenspan is ExecuNet's Chief Content Officer, where she is responsible for setting and driving the editorial content engagement strategy across the private business network's publications and expert-led programming. She is also a Huffington Post blogger. You can follow her on Twitter @RobynGreenspan

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