compelling results through coaching, training & organizational development

What Got You Here Won't Get You There

Is the title of a great new book by Marshall Goldsmith. Marshall, probably the most well known executive coach in America, is one of the sweetest and most down to earth people I've ever met. In his new book, he discusses the 20 workplace habits that executives (business owners, managers and leaders) need to break. I'd like to touch on the high points below. TIP: ask yourself...Do I do this?

Winning too much - being obsessed with winning even when it really shouldn't matter by: arguing too much, putting others down, ignoring people (so they will fade away), withholding information to give yourself the edge and playing favorites to win over allies.

Adding too much value - saying things like, "Great idea, but it would be even better if you did it this way." What you gain by adding to the idea, you lose in your employees loss of confidence and commitment to the idea. It's important that the higher up you go, you make it point to make others winners. TIP: When tempted to add value, take a breath and ask yourself, is what I am about to say really worth it?

Passing judgment - people don't like to be critiqued; stop passing judgment and be curious instead; or adopt the position of an observer. TIP: For one week, treat every idea from another person with complete neutrality. Don't take sides. Don't express an opinion. Don't judge the comment. Just acknowledge. If you can't self-monitor - hire a friend.

Making destructive comments - Before speaking ask: Will the comment I'm about to make help our customers, our company, the person I'm speaking to or the person I'm speaking about? Starting with No, But or However - Don't say these period. Any of these mean 'you're wrong; I'm right' and nothing productive happens after these words.

Telling the world how smart you are - this is another version of your need to win. You're doing this when your body language suggests that you already know what you're hearing (drumming your fingers, nodding your head) or if you say: "I didn't need to hear that, I know that, or somebody else told me that."

Speaking when angry - emotional volatility is the most unreliable leadership tool. It's hard to lead people when you've lost control. Once you get the reputation for emotional volatility; you may be branded for life or it may take years to change such a reputation. It's a flaw that is solely your own.

Negativity or "let me explain why that won't work" - this habit is always negativity under the guise of being helpful. You do this to establish that your expertise or authority is superior to someone else's. What you say is a great indicator of what you're doing to turn others off.

Withholding information - in the age of knowledge workers, information is power. Withholding destroys trust. We do this by not getting back to someone, forgetting to include someone, or delegating without enough detail. Even if we're just too busy to share, it can be seen as withholding.

Failing to give proper recognition - not only treating people unfairly, but depriving them of the emotional pay-off that comes with success. Claiming credit we don't deserve - this goes with # 10. Not only do you deprive others and hog it for yourself; this is a sibling to your need to win.

Making excuses - there is no excuse for making excuses. "Once people reach the age of accountability, no matter what people do to them; it's not an excuse for the mistakes they make." , Bill Clinton. He should know. Clinging to the past - you can't change the past, all you can do is accept it and move on. Set the intention of what you want it to look like today and tomorrow.

Playing favorites - leaders can stop this behavior by admitting we favor those who favor us; even if we don't mean too. Rank your direct reports into 3 categories: 1) how much do they like you ; 2) what is their contribution to the company & customer; and 3) how much personal recognition do you give them? Is the correlation stronger between 1 & 3 or 2 & 3?

Refusing to express regret - admitting your wrong, saying you're sorry and seeking forgiveness; apologizing. If you can't do any of these, what it says is: "I don't care about you."

Not listening - means I don't care, I don't understand, you're wrong, stupid, wasting my time or all of the above. When you act impatient, you might as well be screaming, "Next!" People today are not likely to tolerate this behavior. You are not so important that you can't hear people out; it won't make you dumber; you might even learn something. So listen and say 'Thank You.'

Failing to express gratitude - the sweetest words may be: Thank You. They are disarming, pleasant to hear, and avoid many problems. It is also the appropriate thing to say when you have nothing nice to say.

Punishing the messenger - we do it many times a day without even noticing. A snort of disgust, the slamming down of a pen, the tossing of a paper, an expletive in a meeting. If you want to stop people from giving you ANY input, continue to perfect this habit.

Passing the buck - blaming others for our mistakes. A leader who cannot shoulder the blame is NOT someone we will follow into battle. An excessive need to be 'ME" - the habit of defining ourselves (excusing our flaws) by, "Hey, that just me. Deal with it."

The Bonus 21.....Goal Obsession - becomes a problem when you get so wrapped up in achieving the goal that you do it at the expense of a larger mission. Ask yourself: Am I putting results ahead of people? Goal obsession can even confuse your sense of right and wrong. It can also cause you to 'hog the spotlight' and even claim credit when you don't deserve it. Do you want to be star or an effective leader? Our quest for a successful outcome could end up doing harm to our organization, our families and ourselves. Step back, observe and ask yourself am I obsessed?

Thus far I'm only half finished with the book, so you'll be hearing more or I recommend you purchase it. It's a worthwhile investment.

Blessings, see you next time! Judy


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