Tuesday, April 01, 2008

** What got here, won't get you there by Marshall Goldsmith

A highly subjective and opinionated executive coach shares his wisdom on the fatal flaws of the successful corporate titans of America. The Top 21 flaws of leaders are something we can all learn from as people dealing with other people - including loved ones.

The higher up you go, the more your suggestions become orders. P4

I polled 3 business partners to estimate the percentage that each of them contributed to partnership’s profits… Their combined estimate was over 150%! Each man thought he was contributing over 50% of the firm’s profits… This is true of any workplace. If you asked your colleagues to estimate their percentage contribution to your enterprise, the total will always exceed 100%. There’s nothing wrong with this. You want to surround yourself with confident people. If your total ever comes to less than 100%, I suggest you find new colleagues. P19

If you survey successful professionals (as I have done with over 50,000), 80 to 85% will rate themselves in the top 20% of their peer group and 70% will rate themselves in the top 10%. 90% of physicians, bankers, and pilots will rate themselves in the top 10%. P20

Superstition is merely the confusion of correlation and causality. Humans, like animals, tend to repeat behavior that is followed by positive reinforcement. The more we achieve, the more reinforcement we get. Sounds silly… but from my experience, hungry business people repeat certain behavior all the time, day in and day out, when they believe large pellets of money and recognition will come their way because of it. P26

People will do something – including changing their behavior – only if it can be demonstrated that doing so is in their own best interests as defined by their own values. P29

There is a simple way to achieve the goal of ‘being nicer’. All you have to do is ‘stop being a jerk’… When someone offers a less than brilliant idea, don’t criticize it. Say nothing. When someone challenges one of your decisions, don’t argue with them or make excuses. Quietly consider it, and say nothing. When someone makes a helpful suggestion, don’t remind them that you already know that. Thank them and say nothing… Ceasing to be a jerk doesn’t require learning new positive behaviors. You simply have to stop doing negative ones, and in effect do nothing at all. P39

The 21 Bad Habits:

  1. Winning too much: the need to win at all costs and 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 one’s 2 cents worth 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. Staring with No, But or However: These negative qualifiers secretly say to everyone “I’m right. You’re wrong.”
  6. Telling the world how smart we are: The need to show people that we’re smarter then they think we are.
  7. Speaking when angry: Using emotional volatility as a tool.
  8. Negativity or let me explain why that won’t work: The need to share negative thoughts even when we weren’t asked.
  9. Withholding information: The refusal to share information in order to maintain advantage over others.
  10. Failing to give recognition: The inability to praise and reward
  11. Claiming credit that we don’t deserve: The most annoying way to overestimate our contributions.
  12. Making excuses: Repositioning our behavior as permanent so people excuse us for it.
  13. Clinging to the past: Deflecting blame away from ourselves onto events and people from our past (subset of passing the buck).
  14. Playing favorites: failing to see what we are treating someone unfairly.
  15. Refusing to express regret: inability to admit we’re wrong or recognize how are actions affect others.
  16. Not listening: Passive aggressive form of disrespect
  17. Failing to express gratitude: Inability to say thank you; most basic form of bad manners.
  18. Punishing the messenger: Attacking the innocent, and thereby blinding us from receiving bad news.
  19. Passing the buck: blaming everyone but yourself
  20. The need to be ‘me’: exalting our faults as virtues
  21. Goal Obsession: Losing sight of your mission and values in the attempt to achieve a goal. Not tying your goals back to your mission and values.

If you keep your mouth shut, no one can ever know how you really feel. P64

How to improve recognition:List all the important people in your life

  1. Twice a week, review the list and ask “Did someone on this list do something I should recognize?”
  2. If yes, give them immediate recognition. If no, do nothing. P73

There’s nothing wrong with understanding the past if your issue is accepting the past. But if your issue is changing the future, understanding will not take you there. My experience tells me that the only effective approach is looking people in the eye and saying “if you want to change – do this.” P80

Do you like suckups? No you say. Well then answer this question.
At home, who gets most of your unabashed attention: a) your spouse b) your kids c) your dog? The dog wins 80% of the time. Do people love their dog more than their spouse or children? The answer is always a predictable but resounding ‘No!’. So why does the dog get most of your attention? The replies are always the same “The dog is always happy to see me, he never talks back, he gives me unconditional love.” In other words the dog is a suck up… If we aren’t careful we can wind up treating people like dogs. Rewarding those who heap unthinking admiration upon us. What behavior do we get return? A virulent case of suck ups. P82

Problem accepting other people’s comments? No matter what someone tells you, remind yourself that you won’t learn less. What that means is when somebody makes a suggestion or gives you ideas, you’re either going to learn more or learn nothing, but you’re not going to learn less. Hearing people will not make you dumber [it could waste your time]. So thank them for trying to help. P90

One of the most ironic examples of goal obsession was the 1973 Princeton Good Samaritan experiment… As part of the research, one group of Theology students was told they were go to across campus to deliver a sermon on the topic of the Good Samaritan. Some students told to hurry up because they were late, and that people were waiting for them to arrive. Along their route they encountered a ‘victim’ who needed help. 90% of the late students ignored the needs of the suffering person in their haste to get across campus. “On several occasions the student going to give his talk on the parable of the Good Samaritan literally stepped over the victim.” P102

360 degree feedback boils down to 5 main questions around whether the executive does the following:

1. Clearly communicate a vision

2. Treat people with respect

3. Solicit contrary opinions

4. Encourage people’s ideas

5. Listen to others p119

For 1 day, write down all comments that you hear people make to you or about you. For example “Oh that was really smart”, “You’re late.”, “Are you listening to me?”, “Do you understand?”, etc. At the end of the day, review the list, and maybe some patterns will emerge. You’re learning something about yourself without soliciting active feedback, which means these comments are agenda free. It’s honest and true. Do it at home to see if you’re the same person there too. P128

Stop trying to change people who don’t think they have a problem. Have you ever attempted to change the behavior of a successful adult at work who has no interest in changing? How much luck have you had? The answer is always the same: No luck. Have you had any luck trying to change a spouse who has no interest in changing? Again, same answer… If people don’t care about changing, don’t waste your time. P218

Stop trying to change people who are pursuing the wrong strategy for the organization. If they’re going in the wrong direction, all you’ll do is help them get there faster. P219

Stop trying to change people who should not be in their job. If you pick up only a tiny vibe that a person is not right for the job ask them “If we shut down today, would you be surprised, sad, or relieved? More often than not, they’ll say relieved. Take that as your cue to send them packing. P219

Stop trying to help people who think everyone else the problem. P219

Imagine that you’re 95 years old and ready to die. Before taking your last breath you’ve been given the ability to travel back in time and talk to the person (yourself) who is reading this… What advice would the wise old ‘you’ have for the present ‘you’? Take your time to answer the question on 2 levels: personal advice and professional advice… I can make a rough prediction about what some features of your advice will look like… One them was to reflect on life, to find happiness and meaning now, not next month or next year… Many old people say they seldom appreciated what they did have. They often wish they would have taken more time to enjoy the present… A second recurring them was friends and family… Your friends and family will probably be the only people who will really care about you, not your coworkers. Appreciate them now and share a large part of your life with them. Another them was to follow your dreams… Figure out your true purpose in life and go for it! … Few of us will achieve all of our dreams. Some dreams will elude us, so the key question is not ‘Did I make all my dream come true?’, but rather ‘Did I try?’p222

If you’re going to stay in this company, why are you going to stay?

  1. The work is exciting and I love what I’m doing
  2. I like the people. This feels like family.
  3. I can follow my dreams here in this organization. P223