You have worked hard and have sacrificed and devoted yourself to your career. Now, you are enjoying your success, feeling confident and, yes, even a bit smug. But don’t get too comfortable—take note of your behaviour as you enjoy your success. Why would people at the height of their success and productivity need behaviour modification? Leadership expert Marshall Goldsmith reminds you that the very traits that enabled you to become successful might very well lead to your downfall.
Now that you are a leader, your behavioural quirks and weaknesses take on more weight and significance and can do more harm than they could when you were merely an up-and-comer. Unfortunately, many people have no clue how their behaviour affects their bosses, co-workers, employees and clients. When behavioural quirks become behavioural crises, the time has come to seek a cure. Goldsmith’s simple process requires identifying negative behaviour, showing the damage it causes and making adjustments to solve the problem.
Goldsmith identifies some of the most common behavioural shortcomings, ranging from giving destructive advice to speaking in anger, not giving people recognition and punishing the person who gives you information or advice. One typical habit is being obsessed with one particular goal that becomes more important than your overall mission. While this is not a bad habit in and of itself, it can instigate questionable practices such as causing people to lose their manners, adopt less than honest work methods or take advantage of others.
Luckily for you, this book also offers a seven-step solution process to kick these bad habits. Usually, making a small adjustment or simply stopping the negative behaviour is all it takes to change your behaviour. First, he suggests identifying areas of strength and weakness through 360-degree feedback from people at every level of the organization about how you are doing at work. Gather feedback by observing people’s behaviour and asking those closest to you for input. Second, apologize. That way you claim responsibility for past mistakes and announce your commitment to change.
The third step is to announce loudly and clearly that you are committed to changing. The fourth step is to be a good listener. Make the person you are listening to feel important. Fifth, simply say “Thank you”. Conveying sincere gratitude is a talent, an asset, and it helps diffuse potentially volatile situations.
The sixth step is a follow-up; without it, real, lasting change cannot occur. It shows you are serious about the process and that other people’s opinions matter to you, and allows you to measure your improvement. In the seventh step, you seek “feedforward”.
Unlike feedback, feedforward is not about past behaviour. You can’t change the past. But you can use sincere suggestions to shape a better future. Choose behaviour you would like to change, explain in a one-on-one conversation why you want to change, ask for two suggestions on how to make the change and implement these suggestions.
Goldsmith is respected as a savvy, insightful executive coach. The clarity, humour and down to earth style of his book demonstrate why. GetAbstract recommends it to those who want to improve their leadership skills and keep climbing up the corporate ladder.
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful!
Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter
Hyperion, 2007, 276 pages
List Price: $24.95
Rolf Dobelli is the chairman of getAbstract.