Bad habits – we all have them. What’s key is that we’re aware of them, and make efforts to minimize or eliminate them.

“One of the greatest mistakes of successful people is the assumption ‘I behave this way, and I achieve results. Therefore I must be achieving results because I behave this way.’ This belief is sometimes true but not across the board.”
–Marshall Goldsmith

21 Bad Habits

Marshall Goldsmith, a renowned “Business Thinker” and author, identified the following 21 bad habits that challenge leadership success.

  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 is 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: needless sarcasm and cutting remarks that we think make us sound sharp and 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 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 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 for colleagues.
  17. Failing to express gratitude: The most basic form of bad manners.
  18. Punishing the messenger: The misguided need to attach the innocent who are usually 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.
  21. Goal obsession: Doggedly pursuing tasks or goals instead of paying attention to relationships or the personal needs of others.

If you’re like us, when you read through the list you either identified with the bad habit, or recognized the behavior in a fellow co-worker, client, or business partner. You can only change you; what bad habit do you no longer want to “own”?


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