What Got You Here Won't Get You There

Note from the Leadership Hub Coach:

20 Bad Habits of leaders: a bit of self-analysis for the start of the New Year. What will you look to tackle as part of your Resolutions?

Enjoy these extracts from our January Book of the Month.

“We can’t see in ourselves what we can see so clearly in others. As human beings we almost always suffer from a disconnect between the self we think we are and the self that the rest of the world sees in us.”


The 20 Bad Habits

Leaders commonly manifest 20 specific bad habits. Anyone of them can contribute to creating a destructive, unhappy or adversarial workplace. However, leaders can easily correct these flaws with a slight tweak in behavior. Most leaders are guilty of only one or two of these faults:

  1. Winning too much – The most common behavioral problem among successful people is the all-consuming need to win, even when winning doesn’t matter.
  2. Adding too much value – When someone comes to you with an idea and you immediately feel the need to improve it, you are guilty of adding too much value.
  3. Passing judgement – Offering an opinion in a business setting is okay. But asking people for their opinion and then making a comment about it is not okay. Nobody likes to be judged.
  4. Making destructive comments – Many successful people believe they are straightshooters and pride themselves on their candor. Comments that undermine someone are never instructive or funny; they only cause pain and humiliation.
  5. Starting with ‘no’, ‘but’ or ‘however’ – No matter how well intentioned you are, when you listen an idea, suggestion or comment, and begin your reply with no, but or however, you are communicating that you know better.
  6. Telling the world how smart [you] are – If you use phrases such as ‘I already knew that’, you insult and alienate people. Before you speak, simply ask yourself, ‘Is anything I might say worth saying?’
  7. Speaking when angry – The problem with losing your temper at work is that you also lose control. If you get angry, you’ll gain a reputation for being volatile and unbalanced.
  8. Negativity, or Let me explain why that won’t work – Some people’s first response to any input is to point out that it won’t work and why. IF your first response is always negative, people will become reluctant to present you with new ideas.
  9. Withholding information – In the chess game of power in the workplace, withholding information is a favorite, albeit devious, gambit. This power play only breeds mistrust.
  10. Failing to give proper recognition – People need to experience the emotional payoff of having their hard work, contribution and success acknowledged and appreciated.
  11. Claiming credit that [you] don’t deserve – To avoid this workplace crime, just decide that the group’s achievement matters more than your individual achievement.
  12. Making excuses – A blunt excuse is ‘Sorry I’m late; I got caught in traffic’. A subtle excuse is when you blame some inherent failing like ‘I’m bad at returning phone calls’. Ask yourself why you have such failings, and do something about them.
  13. Clinging to the past – This is an offshoot of the general tendency to place blame; assigning the fault for mistakes to someone or some event that happened years ago.
  14. Playing favorites – When an employee gets the boss’s approval based on something other than performance, favoritism is often the cause.
  15. Refusing to express regret – When do you apologize, you enable people to release ill feelings from the past and forge a new relationship in the future.
  16. Not listening – Not listening is a common problem. Leaders are often guilty of this tendency because they feel they already know what someone is about to say.
  17. Failing to express gratitude – Your automatic response to any suggestion should be ‘Thank you’. Gratitude is a skill that we can never display too often.
  18. Punishing the messenger – The fault of responding with anger when someone tells you something you don’t want to hear. Again, the best response is ‘Thank you’.
  19. Passing the buck – Exceptional leaders take responsibility, not only for themselves but for the people who work for them.
  20. An excessive need to be ‘me’ – Transforming a failing into a virtue is the result of feeling that the flaw is an essential part of your make-up. When you excuse negative or destructive behavior with this attitude, it keeps you from deciding to change.

It's not all bad

The 7 Steps you can take to correct any of the above bad habits are:

  1. Feedback,
  2. Apologizing,
  3. Telling the world (or advertising),
  4. Listening,
  5. Thanking,
  6. Following up, and
  7. Practicing ‘feedforward’.

Extracts copyright Marshall Goldsmith. 

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