This is a series of posts on the Marshall Goldsmith listicle: “The 20 Bad Habits” and my take on how to break them.

I’ve covered habits one through four and five through eight.

Today we’ll explore the nine through twelve chunk of the list.

9. Withholding information: The refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others.

If you’re new to the business world and saying to yourself, “Do people really do this?” Yup, unfortunately they do.

I’ve seen management suppress information. I’ve witnessed peers conceal data.  Why? It’s all about feeding their ego.

By holding their cards close to the vest, in their minds they maintain control. They love the game of manipulation. Using people like pawns on a chess board to gain the slightest edge.

Break the Bad Habit:  The most important attribute of a leader is trust. Once you have the trust of your followers, they’ll bust down doors for you.

If your team senses you’re withholding something from them, it’s very difficult to regain their trust. In the back of their minds they’ll always think you’re up to no good.

Transparency is vital to building and maintaining trust. Be open with your team, colleagues, and management. Nobody likes to be blindsided. Consistently demonstrate through your actions that you have nothing to hide.


10. Failing to give proper recognition: The inability to give praise and reward.

There are managers who believe you should never give kudos to the troops. This behavior is rooted in how they were treated by leaders before them.

Once I coached a manager for nine months. Each month their performance improved both from a quantitative and qualitative perspective. The whole time the boss wasn’t willing to give this team member a single congratulatory remark. This employee eventually left the company.

Break the Bad Habit:  One of the five practices of exemplary leadership I teach in my leadership workshop, The Leadership Challenge, is Encourage the Heart.

For many this isn’t easy to do. Certain bosses believe if they’re too nice to their followers they’ll appear weak.

Human capital is your most important asset. Human beings like to be stroked. They like to be told they’re doing a good job. They like to know they’re valued.

Love em and lead em. They’ll view you as a confident leader.


11. Claiming credit that that we don’t deserve: The most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success.

Doesn’t it make your skin crawl when the leader boasts how they did this or that and showers themselves with accolades? Talk about insecurity.

I’m surprised these leaders don’t have broken arms from patting themselves on the back every day.

Break the Bad Habit:  This is another difficult habit to break. Like most of these habits you’re going to have to experiment. Shine the spotlight on your team while you stand in the wings. Then watch what happens to their future performance. I’ll guarante you they’ll go above and beyond the call of duty and make you look like a rock star.


12. Making excuses: The need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it.

For years I’d say to myself, “I’m just not mechanical.” In fact, it was true.

I grew up in the hood. In the projects of the inner city. Most of my focus was on getting good grades, playing sports, and surviving the concrete jungle.

I never had a reason to tinker, or fix, or come up with a new gadget.

Then, a few years ago, something changed within me. I became more and more curious about how things worked.

One day the garbage disposal broke and for some crazy reason, I decided to go to the hardware store, purchase a new unit, and install it myself.

Part of my motivation was I didn’t want to pay a plumber a few hundred bucks to put a new one in.

At first glance, a garbage disposal is extremely complicated in nature. It’s mechanical, electrical, and there’s plumbing involved. What was I thinking that I’d be able to successfully install this bad boy?

Long story short, I installed the garbage disposal and it worked the first time! I said to myself, I must have made a mistake! Ha!

Break the Bad Habit: I have no other way of saying it but, simply stop making excuses. If you continue to make excuses, your team will do the same. Model the way. Make incremental upleveling changes in your behavior and watch your followers do the same. Believe me, you and your team will be changed forever.

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