Many years ago, Stephen Covey wrote about the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. That book is a classic. Another book which has become a classic is Marshall Goldsmith’s, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.
Goldsmith identified the 20 (plus one) most common pitfalls of leaders. The following are quoted from chapter four:
- Winning too much:
The need to win at all costs and in every situation.
- Adding too much value:
The overwhelming desire to add our own two cents to every discussion.
- Passing judgment:
The need to rate others an impose our standards on them.
- Making destructive comments:
The needless sarcasms and cutting remarks that we think make us sound sharp and witty.
- Starting with “No”, “But” or “However”:
The overuse of theses negative qualifiers which secretly say to everyone, “I’m right. You’re wrong.”
- Telling the world how smart we are:
The need to show people we’re smarter that they think we are.
- Speaking when angry:
Using emotional volativity as a management tool.
The need to share our negative thoughts even when we aren’t asked.
- Withholding information:
The refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others.
- Failing to give proper recognition:
The inability to praise and reward
- Claiming credit 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: a subset of blaming everyone else.
- 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 for 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’re who we are.
- Goal obsession:
When we get so wrapped up in the goal that we lose sight of the mission.
Of course, recognizing one’s own bad habits is a starting point. The next vital step is to wean ourselves off the habits and replace them with more effective leadership behaviors.
I highly recommend this book.
aka The Leadership Strategist