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January 18, 2007

20 Common Mistakes of Eager Leaders

Did you read the BusinessWeek sidebar article where Marshall Goldsmith, superstar executive coach and prolific author, shares common mistakes made by eager leaders? I did and I found them to all be thought-provoking. I also found the complete list inside the BusinessWeek website.

These 20 mishaps are culled from Goldsmith’s newest book, WHAT GOT YOU HERE WON’T GET YOU THERE. Good stuff. Enjoy …

20 Common Mistakes of Eager Leaders

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 our two cents 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. Starting with “No,” “But,” or “However.” The overuse of these qualifiers, which secretly say to everyone, “I’m right. 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. 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 praise and reward.

11. Claiming Credit 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 protect 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 exemplify who we are.

*** NOTE: The following list was compiled and written by Marshall Goldsmith. ***
SOURCE: BusinessWeek article (sub. req'd) | Jan. 8, 2007


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Best list I've seen lately. It's in my research for my next book. Thanks!

Hey, John! A shorter version of this list might be, "Don't be a jerk!" Most, if not all, of the mistakes you've listed are manifestations of the most negative aspects of ego. The gift of great leaders is that they rally the collective passion of the enterprise toward a better future. As I'm reading each of the mistakes you highlighted in your post I'm asking myself - "Does THAT rally the collective passion of the enterprise toward a better future?" Not so much.
As always, love your work, John.

Nice add-on Jack. And yeah, being humble and being considerate goes a long way to being a respected/effective leader.

Dear John,

I really appreciate you mentioning my newest book, What Got You Here Won't Get You There. I hope that your readers find the 20 Workplace Habits You Need to Break to be as thought-provoking as you did. Also, I'm excited to announce that on January 22, 2007, What Got You Here Won't Get You There was rated the #1 most popular book on Thank you for your support.

Life is good.
Marshall Goldsmith

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