Mark Goulston, M.D., is a prominent psychiatrist, business advisor, and executive coach. He is co-founder of Heartfelt Leadership whose mission is: “Daring to Care.” He is the author of the bestselling Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone (AMACOM, 2009) and subject of the PBS special “Just Listen with Dr. Goulston.” Featured in major media from Harvard Business Review to Oprah Radio, he also writes a Tribune syndicated career column and blogs for Fast Company, Huffington Post, and Psychology Today. Goulston’s education includes a B.A. from UC Berkeley, an M.D. from Boston University, and residency in psychiatry at UCLA. He went on to be a professor at UCLA for more than twenty years.
John Ullmen, Ph.D., is an internationally acclaimed executive coach who is on faculty at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He oversees MotivationRules.com and conducts popular feedback-based seminars on influence in organizations. Ullmen began his career as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, where he served as a lead systems engineer for a top-secret Joint Chiefs of Staff intelligence program. He holds a B.S. from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
They are the co-authors of Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In, published by AMACOM (January 2013), and both live in Los Angeles, California.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of them. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Before discussing Real Influence, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?
Goulston: The Dean of Students at my medical school who, when I hit a wall, or rather a wall fell on me, stood up for me when I couldn’t, believed in me what I didn’t, saw a future for me that I couldn’t see, and refused to let me fail.
Ullmen: My parents, though it took me a long time to realize it. They had very difficult childhoods, hard working lives and a challenging marriage. When I finally gained a long-overdue perspective on the sacrifices they made for me and my sister, I changed.
Morris: The greatest impact on your professional development? How so?
Ullmen: My mentor, colleague, dear friend and fellow erratic golfer Professor Sam Culbert. He gives me unconditional love and support, but also kicks in the caboose when I need do more or better.
Goulston: I am blessed to have leadership guru Warren Bennis as a mentor. I love Warren and he has told me that he loves me. Every day that gives me something to live up to.
Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.
Goulston: Actually it was in the past couple years when I realized I couldn’t work with people that I didn’t like, trust or respect and that I didn’t think I could come to like, trust or respect. Essentially I can’t and don’t want to work with people I can’t root for. I have made some exceptions with people who do great things for the world or others.
Ullmen: I was stressed for many years by my lack of career clarity, until a chance meeting and conversation w/the Chairman of a large organization that turned into an impromptu coaching session helped me discover it was there all along.
Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?
Ullmen: Earlier I mentioned my parents, who worked so hard to afford to live in a neighborhood with a good school so my sister and I could have a quality education. That had a ripple effect that led to opportunities at amazing institutions for my undergrad, masters and PhD. I’ll never repay enough what those teachers, coaches and mentors gave me.
Goulston: I don’t know if it is so much what I learned, but how I learned and I have used my education to be a life long learner and to do learn from many angles. That has enabled me to more easily go to the other person’s “there.”
Morris: What do you know now about the business world that you wish you knew when you when to work full-time for the first time? Why?
Goulston: To listen “into” people sooner and hear what they were not saying that was critical to understanding them.
Ullmen: Organizational politics and invisible lines of influence that are “off the org chart.” Learning to see those dynamics is like in the movies when they use smoke to show where the laser beams are that trip the alarms. It’s sometimes frustrating, but helps you get safely from here to there.
Morris: Of all the films that you have seen, which – in your opinion – best dramatizes important business principles? Please explain.
Ullmen: You’ll think I’m joking, but I’m not, mostly. I love how Meet the Parents highlights the compounding problems of being inauthentic—in this case it’s about family systems but there are parallels to organization systems. Ben Stiller’s character contorts himself hilariously in ill-fated attempts to impress his girlfriend’s father, a tough guy ex-CIA agent played by Robert DeNiro. Through this lens, the family dinner scene is a must-see.
Goulston: I don’t know if it’s because it is recent, but Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg has to be near the top. In the movie Lincoln seemed so principle and duty bound, that it gave him the perseverance he needed to make it through the Civil War and to not compromise on passing the 13th Amendment in order to end it sooner.
Morris: From which non-business book have you learned the most valuable lessons about business? Please explain.
Goulston: Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls by Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis is a wonderful explanation about the importance of judgment to leadership. Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business and Influence Others by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas which shows the power of asking great questions to get people to open up and to connect with them.
Ullmen: Frank McCourt’s amazing Angela’s Ashes reminds me how there is so much more to the people around us at work than we realize. We bring our whole selves and whole lives to work with us, and show a portion. The un-shown parts matter too.
Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Lao-Tzu’s Tao Te Ching:
“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”
Ullmen: What a coincidence. I use the last four lines in my MBA leadership class as the finale in a series of over a dozen quotes on leadership. (The first one is Machiavelli on how it’s “better to be feared than loved.”) Great leaders eventually work themselves out of a job, and take pride in it, because they develop the confidence and capabilities of people around them.
Goulston: When you enable your people to self-discover what’s important to their organization and themselves they take ownership of their lives instead of feeling that it belongs to others. This adds a wonderful sense of vitality to their lives.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Mark and John cordially invite you to check out the bonus resources by clicking here.
Here is an especially clever as well as valuable article that Andrew Sobel posted at his website. To read the complete article, check out other resources, and sign up for his free monthly newsletter, please click here.
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A client of mine, a Fortune-100 company, had a longstanding relationship with IBM for the provision of a variety of technology services. They told me that IBM’s then-CEO Sam Palmisano decided to visit my client’s CEO.
A week ahead of the visit, my client’s relationship manager for IBM called his counterpart to discuss the upcoming CEO summit between their companies. Apparently he did not get a return phone call during that week! The story goes that when Palmisano met with their CEO, he opened by saying “My people tell me we have an ‘A’ relationship with your organization.” My client’s CEO responded, “Well, my team tells me your relationship with us is a ‘C.’”
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for the ensuing conversation!
The story ends well—they don’t always—and apparently this was a wakeup call for the IBM team to dramatically improve the relationship. Within a year, my client tells me, the relationship was indeed an “A,” and today they view IBM as a key trusted partner in operating their business.
IBM is a great company that has been quite innovative in the way it builds long-term client relationships. But as this story illustrates, even well-managed firms can dramatically misread the health of a key client relationship!
In the medical profession, there is continual debate about the value of the annual health “checkup.” Most doctors, however, firmly believe that certain types of regular screening tests are essential and help save lives. As the IBM anecdote illustrates, similar “screenings” are necessary when managing client relationships.
In fact, you should absolutely review the “health” of your cient relationships on a regular basis. Here’s why. Most clients simply vote with their feet. They don’t tell you they are unhappy—they simply start to give their business to your competitors. The successful firms I work with all have some type of process in place to determine the health and strength of their most important client relationships. Often, they have multiple layers of feedback that they seek. These sometimes include periodic but structured conversations held by the relationship manager, senior executive visits, independent surveys, and client forums (virtual and in-person).
Here [is the first of] ten questions the Relationship Doctor would ask about each of your clients:
1. Do you have access?
If there were such a figure as a “client relationship doctor,” Lloyds Banking Group Chairman Sir Winfried Bischoff would be the archetype. The former Schroder’s CEO and Citigroup Chairman is a renowned trusted advisor who has calmly and wisely guided hundreds of CEOs through bet-the-company transactions and deals. Last year I asked Sir Win, “How do you know when a relationship is not going well?” His first response was, “If it’s taking a very long time to set up a meeting, that’s usually a bad sign!”
Can you actually get in to see important executives in your client’s organization? Some leaders are notoriously busy, and it does take time to get on their schedule. But if you don’t have access, you may not be considered relevant! PS: If you think you have a good relationship, but the client says “There’s nothing going on, it doesn’t make sense to meet,” that’s still a bad sign. It means they don’t really value your ongoing insight and perspective.
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Andrew Sobel (www.andrewsobel.com) helps companies and individuals build clients for life. He is the most widely published author in the world on the topic of business relationships, and his bestselling books include Power Questions, All for One, Making Rain, and Clients for Life. All for One was recently voted one of the top 10 sales and marketing books of the decade by a major marketing publication. His clients include many of the world’s leading companies such as Citigroup, Hess, Cognizant, Ernst & Young, Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, Experian, Lloyds Banking Group, and many others. Andrew’s articles and work have appeared in publications such as the New York Times, USA Today, strategy+business, and the Harvard Business Review. He spent 15 years at Gemini Consulting where he was a Senior Vice President and country Chief Executive Officer, and for the last 15 years he has led his own consulting firm, Andrew Sobel Advisors. Andrew has been married for 30 years and has three children. He can be reached at www.andrewsobel.com.
To read my reviews of two of Andrew’s books, All for One and Power Questions, please click here.