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What Got You Here Will Not Get You There!

I just finished reading executive coach Marshall Goldsmith’s excellent book “What Got You Here Will Not Get You There.” Mr. Goldsmith identifies 21 destructive habits that grow out of successful careers and stifle future success (i.e. need to win at all costs; need to show people we are smarter than they think we are; need to blame anyone but ourselves) and he recommends very pragmatic approaches to overcoming these bad habits (i.e. each time you talk down to a person there is a $10.00 fine).

I just finished reading executive coach Marshall Goldsmith’s excellent book “What Got You Here Will Not Get You There.” Mr. Goldsmith identifies 21 destructive habits that grow out of successful careers and stifle future success (i.e. need to win at all costs; need to show people we are smarter than they think we are; need to blame anyone but ourselves) and he recommends very pragmatic approaches to overcoming these bad habits (i.e. each time you talk down to a person there is a $10.00 fine). His premise is before successful people can become more successful and reach their full potential, they must overcome the challenges of interpersonal behavior. Not only do I agree with Mr. Goldsmith, but I see the application of his approach to successful organizations as well.

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I define successful organizations as 80/20 Companies – 80% of what the company does is spot on and the leaders of an 80/20 Company are continually working to improve the other 20% of the organization because they know that what it take to thrive, not merely survive, in the WorkQuake™ of the Knowledge Economy. But, as in the case of individuals, 80/20 Companies can become victims of their own success. To continue to improve and grow, 80/20 Company must realize What Made Them Successful in the Past, May Not Keep Them Successful in the Future! Over the next several articles I’m going to examine the 21 Destructive Habits I have seen successful companies develop that will inhibit their future success unless they are overcome.

Destructive Habit #1: Leaders Who Don’t Look in the Mirror!

An article by Jack Zenger & Joseph Folkman in the June 2009 Harvard Business Review highlighted this Destructive Habit when they listed “Ten Fatal Flaws That Derail Leaders.” Those Ten Flaws, with my accompanying comments, are:

1. They lack energy & enthusiasm. Energy + Enthusiasm = Passion! If the company’s leaders are not passionate about what they and the company do how can they expect anyone else to be passionate?

2. They accept their own mediocre performance. Setting standards of excellence and establishing expectations for the company requires leaders to exceed those same standards and expectations if they expect others to meet them.

3. They lack clear vision & direction. If the leaders don’t know where they want the company to go, why should anyone else follow them?

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4. They have poor judgment. No one expects leaders to be right all the time, but every decision they make has to be solely in the best interest of the company.

5. They don’t collaborate. They fly solo because they believe they know it all – even when it is apparent they don’t.

6. They don’t walk the talk. Their mantra is “do what I say, not what I do!” and their behavior destroys trust and respect.

7. They resist new ideas. Their failure to see the potential of the future condemns them and the company to living in the past.

8. They don’t learn from their mistakes. In fact, they don’t even admit they made a mistake!

9. They lack interpersonal skills. Their arrogance leads them to believe if there is a problem in a relationship it rests solely with the other person.

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10. They fail to develop others. They either see no potential in others or they fear the potential they see in others.

The Bottom Line: Poor leadership in good times can be overlooked; poor leadership in the unforgiving environment of the WorkQuake™ of the Knowledge Economy is a disaster waiting to happen. And it will.

Question: When was the last time you and the other leaders of the company “looked in the mirror” (i.e. participated in a 360 degree review)?

Go to www.trainingeverydayleaders.com for more information about how to be an 80/20 Company in the Time of the WorkQuake™.

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