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Coaching Leadership

The 20 unrecognizable leadership habits

The following are transactional communication patterns (flaws) that we humans often let become unnoticeable habits (to us) that create challenges and roadblocks in our interactions with others. I compiled this list below from Marshall Goldsmith’s book “What got you here won’t get you there.” 

Personally, it’s an essential list because I use it while onboarding new clients for mid to long-term engagements. Does any of these resonate with you?

  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 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 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: “Let me explain why that won’t work”: The need to share our negative thoughts even when we were not asked.
  9. Withholding information: The refusal to share information with others to maintain an advantage over them.
  10. Failing to give proper recognition: The inability to praise and reward.
  11. Claiming credit that we do not deserve: The most annoying way to overestimate our contributions to any success.
  12. Making excuses: The need to reposition our annoying behaviour 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 to 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 help.
  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.

I’ve written about each of these 20 habits on this website. Search for the titles, and you may find them. But most importantly, sit down and reflect on each of these habits because, more often than not, people think they’re immune to these behaviors. There’s a reason why they’re “unrecognizable” leadership habits.