What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (Marshall Goldsmith)

This book by executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith, discusses the weaknesses in leadership behavior that eventually catch up with most leaders and lead to their downfall.

Use this list of weaknesses to evaluate your own behavior and those of your key people. Then, select the 1 – 2 most egregious weaknesses and manage yourself and your key people to each person’s weakness.

Weaknesses in Leadership Behavior

  1. Winning too much
    1. The need to win at all cost and in all situations – when it matters, when it does not , and when it is totally beside the point
  2. Adding too much value
    1. The overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion
  3. Passing Judgment
    1. The need to rate others and impose our standards on them
  4. Making Destructive Comments
    1. The needless sarcasm and cutting remarks that we think make us sound sharp and witty
  5. Starting with “NO”, “BUT”, or “HOWEVER”
    1. The overuse of these qualifiers which secretly say to everyone, “I’m right. You’re wrong.”
  6. Telling the world how smart we are
    1. The need to show people we’re smarter than they think we are
  7. Speaking when Angry
    1. Using emotional volatility as a management tool
  8. Negativity
    1. The need to share our negative thoughts even when we were not asked
  9. Withholding Information
    1. The refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others
  10. Failing to give proper recognition
    1. The inability to praise and reward
  11. Claiming Credit that we don’t deserve
    1. The most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success
  12. Making Excuses
    1. The need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it
  13. Clinging to the past
    1. The need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto events and people from our past; a subset of blaming everyone else
  14. Playing favorites
    1. Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly
  15. Refusing to express regret
    1. The inability to take responsibility for our actions; admit that we are wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others
  16. Not Listening
    1. The most passive aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues
  17. Failing to express gratitude
    1. The most basic form of bad manners
  18. Punishing the messenger
    1. The misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually only trying to help us
  19. Passing the buck
    1. The need to blame everyone but ourselves
  20. An excessive need to be “me”
    1. Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they are who we are
  21. Goal Obsession
    1. Bridge on the River Kwai: Alec Guinness was so focused on building the bridge that he forgot the larger mission was winning the war


Other Thoughts and Ideas from the Book

  1. The sub-title to the book could be: “Stupid things top people do that they need to stop doing now!”
  2. The less we focus on ourselves and the more we consider our people the more it benefits us
  3. Stop acting as if you are managing you. This is the Golden Rule Fallacy. You are leading and managing people who are different from you and thus need to be managed differently than you would want to be managed.
  4. “Not Listening” is likely one of the most common weakness. Some suggestions on listening effectively:
    1. When listening before we speak we need to ask ourselves: “Is it Worth It?”
    2. Great listeners not only listen well they make the speaker feel like he or she is the only person in the room.
    3. In listening, eliminate any striving to impress the other person with how smart or funny you are. Don’t say “I knew that.” Don’t use the words “no”, “but”, “however.”
  5. Don’t kid yourself; your flaws at work do not vanish when you walk through your front door at home. Ask your spouse or children, they will be able to tell you your weaknesses in a New York minute.

About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
This entry was posted in Business Acumen, Leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (Marshall Goldsmith)

  1. Pingback: The 4 Secrets to Great Business Leadership Already Known by the Ancients | David Shedd's Blog

  2. Pingback: The ‘Crack Cocaine’ of Leadership | David M. Shedd – Move Your Company Forward

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