The 3 Most Important Actions Start-Up Leaders Can Take


In this final installment of my recent interview with my good friend, entrepreneurial coach Alisa Cohn, I asked her for her final thoughts and suggestions about working with corporate, entrepreneurial, and start-up leaders. And she provides us with the three most important actions a leader can take. The excerpt from our conversation is below.

Marshall: You’ve had a lot of experience working with corporate leaders, also with entrepreneurial leaders. Any final thoughts or suggestions you’d like to share?

Alisa: My final bit of advice is for leaders to step back and think about what the goal is. What are they trying to do? What are they trying to accomplish?

So often, we’re in like the malaise or the muck and the mire of being upset or frustrated, or very often, just nervous, like constant anxiety. When you’ve got a team of 20, 50, 100 or 500 people who are looking at you to set the example and lead, you’ve got to step back and recognize that you’re on stage every single minute. How you act, not just what you say, but how you are being, affects them.

My advice is for leaders to step back and gather emotional self-control, and think about, what they want to do and how they want to be, because everyone is looking to them as the leader. These three things are what I have experienced are the most important actions anyone can take as a leader:

  1. Step Back
  2. Plan
  3. Be in Control of Your Emotional State

Marshall: That’s great advice! It reminds me of two quotes from two of the greatest leaders I have ever met.

The first is from my great friend Frances Hesselbein, former CEO, Girl Scouts of America and the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute (formerly the Peter Drucker Foundation), and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor that can be given to a US civilian, who said,

“Leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do.” – Frances Hesselbein

The second is from my friend Alan Mulally, the former CEO of the Ford Motor Company, who was named the third greatest leader in the world, behind Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, by Fortune magazine. Alan spoke these memorable words:

For the great achiever, it’s all about me. And for the great leader it’s all about them.” – Alan Mulally

And, that is the final portion of our interview. I hope everyone has enjoyed it and learned as much from it as as I have. Thank you, Alisa!

After one year, the first 100 leaders in Marshall’s ‘pay it forward’, 100 Coaches project have been selected (out of over 16,000 applicants). Learn more about this amazing group of people who are dedicated to making a positive difference in the world at www.marshallgoldsmith.com/Welcome. In 2018, 100 Aspiring Coaches will be selected based on their potential to make a positive difference and pay it forward in the future. Please apply at MarshallGoldsmith.com/application. We look forward to receiving your applications!