If you do nothing else over the holidays, pick up Marshall Goldsmith’s simple yet consistently Marshall-esque and direct book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful. I recently had a chance to meet Marshall at the Vistage International 50th anniversary conference. His unassuming presence completely disarms you with the fact that he is the personal coach to some of the Fortune 500’s most elite CEOs.
Early on in his book, he references the most annoying interpersonal issues in the workplace today. We thought these might be a relevant reference point as many deter you from developing intentional, strategic, and thus quantifiable business relationships.
For example, he talks about the importance of knowing when to stop. Have you ever thought about the stupid things top people do that they need to stop doing now? Get out a notepad and instead of the usual “to do” list, start a “to stop” list.
Goldsmith points out that not all behaviors can be categorized as good or bad. Many are simply neutral. In 2008, if you choose to be nicer, for example, instead of creating a long list of positive actions such as complimenting people, saying please and thank you, listening more patiently, and treating them with verbal respect (often a daunting task), a simpler way that doesn’t require much effort at all is to just stop being a jerk! You don’t have to think of ways to be nicer, all you really have to do is nothing! When someone offers a less than stellar plan, don’t criticize – just say nothing! If your decisions are challenged, don’t argue or make excuses – just quietly consider it and keep your critiques to yourself.
Before fixing bad behavior, you first have to identify the most common faults. These are not flaws of skill, intelligence, or unchangeable personality, but often challenges in interpersonal and leadership behavior. Many of our flaws are transactional and performed one person against another.
The 20 Habits That Hold You Back from the Top
- Winning too much. The need to win at all costs and in all situations even when wining doesn’t really matter and is totally beside the point.
- Adding too much value. The overwhelming desire to add our opinion to every discussion.
- Passing judgment. The need to impose our standards on others.
- Making destructive comments. Needless sarcasm and cutting remarks that we think make us sound sharp and witty.
- Starting anything with “no, but or however.” Seldom anything good comes after these and as negative qualifiers, they secretly say to everyone, “I am right and you are wrong.”
- Telling the world how smart we are. The need to show people we are smarter than they think we are.
- Speaking when angry. Using emotional volatility as a management tool.
- Negativity. “Let me explain why that won’t work” is a need to share our negative thoughts even when we were not asked.
- Withholding information. The refusal to share information in order to maintain control or an advantage over others.
- Failing to give proper recognition. The inability to praise and reward.
- Claiming credit that we don’t deserve. The most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success.
- Making excuses. The need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it.
- Clinging to the past. The need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto events and people from our past.
- Playing favorites. Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly.
- Refusing to express regret. The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we’re wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.
- Not listening. The most passive aggressive form of disrespect of colleagues.
- Failing to express gratitude. The most basic form of bad manners.
- Punishing the messenger. The misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually only trying to help us.
- Passing the buck. The need to blame everyone but ourselves.
- An excessive need to be “me.” Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they make us who we are.
Check yourself against the list. Though it is unlikely you are guilty of all of these annoying habits, you can probably narrow the list to 1-2 vital issues that will show you where to begin in 2008 and beyond.