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Leadership Ideas Worth Reviewing

November 30, 2019

According to executive and leadership coach, Marshall Goldsmith, a flaw in your interpersonal behavior is keeping you from reaching your highest potential inside of your organization.  After decades of coaching, Goldsmith explains the 20 bad habits that he has encountered over and over again.  You likely won’t recognize one of these in yourself, but your supervisor, peers and direct reports do, and it is impacting your career.  Other interesting parts of the book include tips for giving recognition, better listening, gratitude, feedback and feedforward.  Remember, all leaders are readers.  Pick up the book and learn some new ideas to use in your personal and professional life!

20 Habits That Hold You Back From The Top

1. Winning too much.  The need to win at all costs in all situations, when it matters, when it doesn't and when it's totally beside the point.
2. Adding too much value.  The overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion.
3. Passing judgment.  The need to rate others and impose our standards on them.
4. Making destructive comments.  The needless sarcasms and cutting remarks that we think make us sound sharp and witty.
5. Starting with no, but, or however.  The overuse, which secretly says to everyone: I'm right, you're wrong.  
6. Telling the world how smart we are.
7. Speaking when angry.
8. Negativity or “let me explain why that won't work”.
9. Withholding information.
10. Failing to give proper recognition.
11. Claiming credit that we don't deserve.
12. Making excuses.
13. Clinging to the past.
14. Playing favorites.
15. Refusing to express regret.
16. Not listening.
17. Failing to express gratitude.
18. Punishing the messenger.
19. Passing the buck.
20. An excessive need to be me.

Peter Drucker said we spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do.  We don't spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop.  Work on stopping one or more of these bad habits in yourself! 

Technique For Providing Recognition

Make a list of all the important groups of people in your life: friends, family, direct reports, customers, and then write down the name of each important person in that group.  Twice a week on Wednesday morning and Friday afternoon, review the list of names and ask yourself did someone on this page do something that I should recognize?  If the answer is yes, give them some very quick recognition either by a phone call, email, voicemail or a note.  If the answer is no, no action required.  



Gratitude Can’t Be Practiced Enough


Gratitude is the skill that we can never display too often and yet for some reason, we are cheap and charry with gratitude as if it were a rare Bordeaux wine and that we can serve only on special occasions.  Gratitude is not a limited resource nor is it costly.  It's as abundant as air.  We breathe it in but forget to exhale.  


No one expects us to be right all the time, but when we are wrong, they certainly expect us to own up to it.  In a sense, being wrong is an opportunity to show what kind of person and leader we are.  


Four Commitments For Giving Feedback

Let go of the past, tell the truth, be supportive and helpful, not cynical or negative.  Pick something to improve yourself so everyone is focused more on improving than judging.  Interpersonal behavior is a difference maker between being great and near great, between getting the gold and settling for the bronze.  Feedback comes in three forms: solicited, unsolicited and observation.  In soliciting feedback for yourself, the only question that works, the only one, must be phrased like this: how can I do better?  Two great lessons that shaped Goldsmith’s professional work:  It's a lot easier to see our problems in others than it is to see them in ourselves.  Even though we may be able to deny our problems to ourselves, they may be very obvious to the people who are observing us.  

For the great leaders, there's no on and off switch for caring, empathy and showing respect.  It's always on.  They don't rank personal encounters as A, B, or C in importance; they treat everyone equally and everyone eventually notices.  

Guide To Better Listening

Listen, don't interrupt, don't finish other people's sentences.  Don't say I knew that; don't even agree with the other person even if he praises you, just say thank you.  Don't use the words no, but, and, however.  Don't be distracted.  Don't let your eyes or attention wander elsewhere while the other person is talking.  Maintain your end of the dialogue by asking intelligent questions that (a) show you're paying attention, (b) move the conversation fowar­­­­d and (c), require the other person to talk while you listen.  Eliminate any striving to impress the other person with how smart or funny you are.  Your only aim is to let the other person feel that he or she is accomplishing that.  


Not Feedback, Feedforward


Feedforward works, because while successful people don't like hearing criticism or negative feedback, successful people love getting ideas for the future.  Here's how feedforward works:

1. Pick the one behavior that you would like to change, which would make a significant positive difference in your life.
2. Describe this objective in one-on-one dialogue with anyone you know.  Ask that person for two suggestions fo the future that might help you achieve a positive change in your selected behavior.  In this case, become a better listener.  Listen attentively to the suggestions, take notes if you'd like.  Your only ground rule: you're not allowed to judge, rate or critique the suggestions in any way.  You can't even say something positive such as that's a good idea.  The only response you're permitted is thank you.  


Why Your Team Members Stay Loyal


After interviewing thousands of high potential leaders, here are the top three answers to “If you were to stay in this company, why are you going to stay?”  1) “I am finding meaning and happiness now; The work is exciting, and I love what I'm doing; I like the people, they're my friends.”  2. “This feels like a team; it feels like a family; I can make more money working with other people, but I don't want to leave the people here.”  3) “I can follow my dreams.  This organization is giving me a chance to do what I really want to do in life.”


Make people say those things for the teams that you lead and good luck!


Thank you to Commercial Attaché, Chip Peters, for recommending this book to me. 



As a former Foreign Service Officer and Air Force pilot, I’m passionate about continuing to serve those in government and the military.  Our services and publications are designed for individuals and families in these communities.  Follow me – Chris Cortese - on LinkedIn  or like our page on Facebookso you can continue to benefit from our daily commentary and content.


Chris Cortese, CFP®
Logbook Financial Planning, LLC


“Investment advisory services are offered through Logbook Financial Planning, LLC, a Licensed Investment Adviser in the state of Maine and Registered Investment Adviser in the state of Virginia” “All written content is for information purposes only. It is not intended to provide any tax or legal advice or provide the basis for any financial decisions.” Logbook Financial Planning, LLC is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.

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