The 20 Bad Habits : Marshall Goldsmith

17 Jul

Marshall Goldsmith is a leading executive educator and a preeminent coach to world’s best executives and corporations. Marshall Goldsmith in his book” What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” points out following Twenty bad habits( challenges in interpersonal behavior), which could impediment great people’s otherwise very successful careers.He says they are ” minor” work place foibles which begin to chip away goodwill we’ll all accumulated in life, they are:

                                    The 20 Bad Habits

( Challenges in Interpersonal behavior)

1. Winning too much: The need to win at all costs and in all situations.

2. Adding too much value: The overwhelming desire to add our 2 cents to every discussion.

3. Passing judgment: The need to rate others and impose our standards on them.

4. Making destructive comments: The needless sarcasm and cutting remarks that we think make us witty.

5. Starting with NO, BUT, HOWEVER: The overuse of these negative qualifiers which secretly say to everyone that I’m right and you’re wrong.

6. Telling the world how smart we are: The need to show people we’re smarter than they think we are.

7.Speaking when angry: Using emotional volatility as a management tool.

8. Negativity, or “Let me explain why that won’t work”: The need to share our negative thoughts even when we weren’t asked.

9. Withholding information: The refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others.

10. Failing to give proper recognition: The inability to give praise and reward.

11. Claiming credit that that we don’t deserve: The most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success.

12. Making excuses: The need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it.

13. 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.

14. Playing favorites: Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly.

15. Refusing to express regret: The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we’re wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.

16. Not listening: The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues.

17. Failing to express gratitude: The most basic form of bad manners.

18. Punishing the messenger: The misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually only trying to help us.

19. Passing the buck: The need to blame everyone but ourselves.

20. An excessive need to be “me”: Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they’re who we are.

Source :

I am not a fan of management books. Leadership development is an area of interest and would like to recommend Marshall Goldsmith’s two books  dear friends. They are ” What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” ( Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter) and the other  for career transition ” Mojo How to Get It, How to Keep It, How To Get It Back,If You Lose IT” ( Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter). The title’s seems in the genre of self help but they they have good real time content by a leading practitioner. My friend once gave me a nice suggestion saying you should read one book for six months,talk to it,refine your leanings and live with it. I think that’s a cool idea and these could be useful books, as Dame Vivienne Westwood  says “”Buy less, choose well.

I want to share an extract from Marshall Goldsmith’s book ( What Got You Here Won’t Get You There) , here is a case study:

” Case 1. Carlos is the CEO of a successful food company. He is brilliant,hard -working, and an expert in his field. He started on the factory floor and rose through sales and marketing to the top post. There is nothing in his business that he hasn’t seen first hand. Like many creative people,he is also hyperactive, with the metabolism and attention span of a hummingbird. He loves to buzz around his company’s facilities,dropping in on employees to see what they are working on and shoot the breeze. Carlos loves people and he loves to talk.All in All, Carlos presents a very charming package,except when his mouth runs ahead of his brain.
One month ago his design team presented him with their ideas for the packaging of a new line of snacks. Carlos was delighted with the designs. He only had one suggestion.

” What do you think about changing the color to baby blue?” he said,” Blue says expensive and upmarket.”
Today the designers are back with the finished packaging.Carlos is pleased with the results. But he muses aloud,” I think it might be better in red.”

The design team in unison roll their eyes. They are confused. A month ago their CEO said he preferred blue They’ve busted their bumps to deliver a finished product to his liking,now he’s changed his mind. They leave the meeting dispirited and less than enthralled with Carlos.

Carlos is a very confident CEO. But he has a bad habit of verbalizing any and every internal monologue in his head. And he doesn’t fully appreciate that this habit becomes a make -or -break issue as people ascend the chain of command. A lowly clerk expressing an opinion doesn’t get people’s notice at a company. But when the CEO expresses that opinion,everyone jumps to attention.The higher you go,the more your suggestions become orders.

Carlos thinks he’s merely tossing an idea against the wall to see if it sticks.His employees think he’s giving them a direct command.

Carlos thinks he’s running a democracy,with everyone allowed to voice their opinion. His employees think it’s a monarchy,with Carlos as king.

Carlos thinks he’s giving people the benefit of his years of experience.His employees see it as micromanaging and excessive meddling. Carlos has no idea how he’s coming across to his employees. ”

He is guilty of Habit #2: Adding too much value

Hope the above was useful in illustrating the point.  Hope you like these  20 pointers!

Many years ago, as a young person going to meet a business client, did not know much about hierarchical organizations and still don’t. I met with a General manager of a semi conductor company, finding me young he regaled me with some jokes. The idea was perhaps to make me comfortable. I in my  naughty youthful folly got so excited and carried away with jokes and told him my own collection of  jokes which my idiot friends had shared with me. While me was happy , his face grew pale.The meeting ended. I never got the client.  I learnt my first lesson ” my job was to listen to his jokes and not recount my own” 🙂 Ever since my effort is to get better with superiors, because  have tendency of sharing my own ideas and fun, my purpose is to get better and better in working relationships with superiors. Guess a little mature now,but have to always be on guard 🙂  Thank you dear friends and have a lovely day!


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