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Pointing in a different direction |

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Pointing in a different direction

COMMONNESS - Bong R. Osorio - The Philippine Star

You aim to always change for the better. In order to achieve that you must recognize your flaws, and flaws haunt everyone, even very successful people. They are challenges that impact on your interpersonal and leadership behavior.

In the book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, executive coach and author Marshall Goldsmith makes sense of how you can do it. Using his understanding and familiarity with the most irksome relationship concerns in the workplace, he identified 20 habits that can deter you from moving to the top rung of the corporate ladder.

Just a little trivia on the tome’s title: While meeting with his publisher, the author was asked, “What’s the book about?” He said, “It’s kind of like, ‘What got you here, won’t get you here’” — pointing in a different direction. Somebody in the room said, “That seems stupid. You should say, “What got you here, won’t get you there.” And that started this long list of what to stop to make a difference.

• Winning too much causes nearly every other behavioral problem. It is your number-one challenge. You should be aware of the fine line between being competitive and over-competitive, between winning when it counts and when no one’s counting — and you cross that line with disturbing regularity. If you argue too much, it’s because you want your view to prevail. If you put down other people, it’s your way of putting them under you.

• Adding too much value to oneself must be regulated. The higher up you go, the more you need to make winners out of other people and not confine to yourself the aspect of winning. This entails personally keeping an eye on how you deliver support to your team.

• Passing judgment is counterproductive. There’s nothing wrong with offering an opinion in the normal give-and-take of business discussions, but it’s not appropriate to pass judgment when you specifically ask people to voice their opinions about anything. When you don’t critique a concept, no one can debate with you. You have to be convivial — someone with an open-door policy.

• Making destructive comments is simply harsh and unhelpful. These cover sarcastic remarks that run the gamut — from a thoughtless jab in a meeting to comments about how someone looks to elaborately planned critiques of people’s past performances that everyone but you has forgotten. Before speaking, ask: Will this comment help the customers, the company, the person I’m talking to, or the person I’m talking about?

Starting with “no,” “but” or “however” signals a “you’re wrong” response. When you open your sentence with any of these words or a variation of these expressions, no matter how friendly your tone is or how many appeasing comments you pitch to recognize the other person’s sentiments, the message to the other person is — “you’re mistaken.” Stop trying to defend your take on an issue and start observing how many times you begin your remarks with those three words that dampen people’s spirit and enthusiasm.

• Telling the world how smart you are is not a smart thing to do. It’s your choice to project that you’re the smartest person in the room, but it usually boomerangs. You do it whenever you nod your head impatiently while people are talking, or when you drum your fingers on the table. You do it more openly when you tell someone, “I already knew that,” or utter alternative phrasings such as, “I didn’t need to hear that,” or “I’m five steps ahead of you.” These are insulting comments, but putting a stop to this behavior is not difficult. You can do this three-step drill: Pause before you open your mouth to ask yourself, “Is anything I say worth it?” If you conclude that it isn’t, say “thank you.”

• Speaking when angry makes you out of control. It’s hard to direct people who are on the warpath. The most awful thing about anger is how it holds back your facility to change. Once you get labeled as emotionally unstable, that brand sticks with you for life. Pretty soon that is all people remember about you. To avoid a reputation as a person who gets angry easily or most of the time, just follow one simple rule: “If you keep your mouth shut, no one can ever know how you really feel.”

• Negativity, or “Let me explain why that won’t work” is a downer.  Watch out for pessimistic words that reveal pure, unadulterated negativity under the pretext of being ready to extend a hand. If you find yourself being pessimistic most of the time, you know what needs repair. Seeing how people relate to you gives evidence that your defect is serious — how you project your personality and character matters to them and it’s a predicament that you can alter by intentionally bringing out the sunshine in your speech.

• Withholding information intentionally is the opposite of adding value. Reflect how you feel about these events: a meeting you weren’t told about, a memo or email you weren’t copied on, or when you were the last person to learn something. Not sharing information hardly ever achieves the preferred result. In fact, the outcome could be worse than you imagine. Keep people in the loop, stop withholding information, and just share it.

Failing to give proper recognition spreads unfairness. It also treats people wrongly and denies them of the emotional payoff that comes with success. They feel forgotten, ignored and pushed to the side. And these feelings can reflect negatively on your relationship and leadership styles.

• Claiming credit that you don’t deserve is an empty declaration. When you steal the credit for the success someone else created, you are doing the most anger-inducing person-to-person felony in the workplace. It builds a bitterness that gets stuck in the memory. People can pardon you for not acknowledging their stellar performance, but they can’t pardon you for not acknowledging it and shamelessly claiming it as your own. Share the wealth. It’s the best way to stop being a credit hog.

• Making excuses can either be blunt or subtle. Blunt excuses make you blame somebody else. The problem with this type is that you rarely get away with it, and it’s hardly an effective leadership strategy. The more subtle excuses appear when you attribute your failings to some inherited DNA like your impatience, or “that’s just the way I am” syndrome. The next time you hear yourself saying, “I’m just not good at…” ask yourself, “Why not?”

• Clinging to the past can’t change, rewrite, or make excuses for what has already been done. All you can do is accept it, learn from it and move on. But for some reason, you may enjoy living in the past, especially if going back there lets you blame someone else for anything that’s gone wrong in your life. And that can slow things down or stop you completely.

• Playing favorites encourages wrong behavior. If you aren’t careful, you can end up treating people at work like dogs — rewarding those who pile thoughtless, unqualified approbation or respect on you. The net result is clear: You’re supporting activities that serve you, but not necessarily in the best interests of the company. Ask: If everyone is playing sycophant, who’s getting the work done?

• Refusing to express regret causes as much animosity in the workplace as any other interpersonal failing. When you tell someone “I’m sorry,” you turn people into your allies. The best thing about apologizing is that it compels people to unleash the past. When you apply it on colleagues it can have an immense effect on how they feel about you and their own selves.

• Not listening sends out an armada of off-putting messages. People will tolerate all types of insolence, but the failure to pay attention holds a special place in their hearts. The reality for leaders of the past and leaders in the future is that in the past, brilliant people would endure rude behavior, but in the future they will simply go away.

• Failing to express gratitude is a failure of character. The two most satisfying words in the English language are “Thank you.” Although there’s no art to saying it, people have a tough time carrying out this basic expression. If you don’t know what to say, your default reply to any proposition should be “thank you.” Any response other than this is most likely to rouse trouble. Deliberately or not, you emerge as if you are attacking the person talking to you.

• Punishing the messenger is totally unreasonable. It is not just the unwarranted retaliatory action you take versus a whistle-blower or the fuming diatribe you heap on an employee who tells you something you don’t relish hearing. It’s also the tiny retorts you make all through the day whenever you are hassled or upset. It’s the curse you utter at a meeting when a subordinate announces a deal that fell apart. If you had calmly asked, “What went wrong?” no damage would be done. The subordinate would explain and everyone in the room would be the wiser for it. But if you show a flash of temper, it sends a different signal that says: “If you want to tick off the boss, surprise him or her with bad news.” To stop this bad habit, all you need to say is “Thank you.”

• Passing the buck is the dark flipside of claiming credit that others deserve.  If you are a leader who cannot bear the blame, you are someone who will stumble blindly into battle. Instead of depriving others of their due credit for a successful program, you wrongfully burden them with the embarrassment of your failure. You’re not duping anyone — except perhaps yourself — and no matter how much you think you’re saving your hide, you’re actually killing it.

• An excessive need to be “me” is detrimental to your relationships. This is one of the toughest obstacles to making positive long-term change in your behavior. But it doesn’t need to be. That’s because it’s not about you. It’s about what other people think of you. The less you focus on your need to “be me” and the more you consider what your underlings are feeling, the more it will benefit you.

If you’re serious about improving yourself, this book has a great deal to share. The advice may appear basic or nothing you don’t already know, but they serve as stark reminders to help you work yourself to the top.

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