Leader as Facilitator

Marshall Goldsmith
4 min readDec 17, 2021

You know, someone who tells you what to do, how to do it, and when to do it? Someone who seems to have all the answers — even when they’re not asked!

Don’t be surprised; you’re not alone. And, worse yet, not only do leaders often assume the know-it-all position, many of us work with people who think they know everything. It is epidemic.

This style of leadership is based on the old model of “authoritative leader” in which the leader plays the role of “boss” and tells employees what to do and how to do it. This type of leader is the historic norm. Leaders can even go so far as to think that if they don’t do this, they aren’t leading well.

Let’s take a closer look at this starting with one of my favorite Peter Drucker quotes. Peter provided an excellent perspective on the authoritative leader when he said, “While the leader of the past knew how to tell, the leader of the future will know how to ask.”

I’ve never seen anyone live these words to the degree that my friend Alan Mulally did. And, it was of great benefit of those around him. So great was that he was recently ranked as the third Greatest Leader in the World by Fortunemagazine. Prior to that he was recognized as the Best CEO in America by CEO magazine.

Here is a little more history about Alan. After an incredibly successful career at Boeing, where he rose to the role of CEO of Boeing Commercial Aircraft, Alan became the CEO of Ford and helped the company achieve one of the most positive turnarounds in the history of corporate America. The amazing story of Ford is well documented in the book, American Icon. When he left Ford, Alan had a 97% approval rating from all employees.

HOW DID HE DO IT?

Let’s start with a little history about me: For over forty years I have been a student of leadership. I have a Ph.D. from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. I am the author of editor of 35 books. My written material or videos have been read or viewed over 25 million times. I served on the Advisory Board of the Peter Drucker Foundation for ten years. In 2011, I was ranked by Thinkers 50, in London, as the Most-Influential Leadership Thinker in the World. I have had the honor of coaching over 150 of the most important organizational leaders in the world. Needless to say, I know a little about leadership.

In my long career, I have never observed an approach to leadership that matches Alan’s. His style is as unlike…

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Marshall Goldsmith

My mission is simple. I want to help successful people achieve positive, lasting change in behavior; for themselves, their people, and their teams.