What’s Wrong With Us?

Occasionally I come across a piece of “internet inspiration” that actually speaks to me. It echoes the feelings and sentiments I have so closely that I feel compelled to print it off, cut it out, and hang it in my line of sight. I’m gullible in this way.

I was scanning my desk this week, looking at photos of family and taking down papers, project schedules, etc…just cleaning up a bit when lo and behold, I ran across one of those articles. Once again, it moved me. It moved me enough to a) keep it up, and b) blog about it. I think it’s brilliant and I continue to believe, and try my hardest to heed, these well written words.

I obtained this from a magazine that (truthfully) I can no longer identify, but the original content is from Marshall Goldsmith. If you recognize some of these because you “do” them, or because you “experience” them, feel free to print, cut, hang, or share. I hope you find this smacks you in the face as completely and painfully as it did me.

The following is the article adapted from MarshallGoldsmithLibrary.com


Whats Wrong with Us?

I find that the 20 flaws that hold most people back are rarely flaws of skill, intelligence, or personality. They are challenges of interpersonal behavior, often leadership behavior:

  1. Winning too much: the need to win all all costs and in all situations – when it matters, when it doesn’t, and when its totally beside the point.
  2. Adding too much value: the 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 sound witty.
  5. Starting with “No”, “But”, or “However”: The overuse of these negative qualifiers which secretly say to everyone, “I’m right, you’re wrong”.
  6. Telling the world how smart you 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 wont work”: the need to share our negative thoughts, even when we aren’t asked.
  9. Withholding information: the refusal to share information to gain or maintain an advantage over others.
  10. Failing to give proper recognition: the inability to praise and reward.
  11. Claiming credit 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.
  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 trying to help us.
  19. Passing the buck: the need to blame everyone else but ourselves.
  20. An excessive need to be “Me”: exalting our faults as virtues simply because they’re who we are.

Command and Control (a leadership anti-pattern)

I’m not sure about others, but in my career, there has been no debate about the use of the “command and control” leadership style. It’s just bad. More than bad, it’s completely ineffective when the intended outcome is lasting, cultural change and commitment.

Have you ever witnessed an attitude of “chest-puffed” dominance that some leaders hold when it comes to leading others.

“I don’t want to have long winded discussion on this. This is how it’s gonna be!”

“If we just force them to do it, we will get results!”.

Yes. You will get results, but I doubt the kind you intend.

Over the years, at almost every turn, I am reminded of the power of collaborative leadership…of common goals and shared purpose. And I’m also reminded how difficult it is to stay above the notion and allure of forcing teams to “just do it” (whatever “it” is). It is a shortcut, a cop out of sorts.

The short cut always seems so clear. Come up with an edict and the hard work is done. However, “cultures” simply will NOT change when commanded to do so. They will comply, but will not change. That means that real commitment to a common purpose will never be achieved. This is especially true of knowledge workers.

Cultural change requires others to reach conclusions on their own, and my ability to edict change is no substitute for the hard work of leadership. This particular anti-pattern, however unsavory, seems to capture my vision of leaders who fall victim to this shortcut when they should know better.