Over the last month or so we’ve examined The 20 Bad Habits, Challenges In Interpersonal Behavior listicle by Marshall Goldsmith.

This is the fifth and last in the series so let’s bring it home:

17. Failing to express gratitude: The most basic form of bad manners.

What is it about today’s society that showing you’re thankful, appreciative, and grateful has a weakness connotation to it?

For some reason, managers think if they show their nice side their followers will look for ways to circumvent the system and not give 100%. “My manager is so nice they won’t do anything to me” the follower says to themselves.

Break the Bad Habit: 

In Breaking Bad Habits Part 4, I made note that a true leader is grateful. A true leader is vulnerable. A true leader is humble.

In today’s environment where the acquisiton of A players is an ongoing competitive battle, as the leader, you need to be doing everything well.

Most importantly, being a better human being.

People are picky in regards to where they want to spend 10 hours or more of their working day, week in, and week out.

Yes, they want the best compensation, benefits, meaningful work which leverages their unique skills, etc. They also want a copacetic working environment led by leaders who care about their people.

If you find this habit difficult to break, take small steps.

Make small gestures of appreciation to everyone in your circle of influence. Thank people for their time, for the great job they did on a project, for their over the top customer service skills, or maybe for getting you a cup of coffee.


18. Punishing the messenger: The misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually only trying to help us.

I once belonged to a networking group where we paid annual dues of a few hundred. I was told by the “leaders” of the group dues went primarily towards our newly buffed web site.

One problem. There wasn’t anything special about the web site nor did I hear of any plans how they were going to make it even more special.

I approached the Prez of the group. When I asked where our funds were going his eyes shifted, looking left and right, everywhere else except in my direction. He gave an incoherent answer and promised to get back to me.

He sure did.

When I got back to my home office I received a foot long scathing email message from our feared leader WRITTEN ENTIRELY IN CAPS WITH NUMEROUS EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!

In short, he told me he was in control and I should just shut up and not worry about where the money was going.

Long story short. Everyone was as curious as I was in regards to the lack of transparency by the leader. Shortly thereafter, the group disbanded.

Break the Bad Habit: 

If you continue to ridicule your followers they’ll eventually leave to join another organization. More than likely a competitor. Nothing will bring them greater satisfaction then to kick your butt in a business deal.

President Lincoln filled his cabinet with enemies and those who didn’t particularly agree with his point of view. It’s healthy to have an abundance of differing perspectives. There isn’t a definitive answer all the time. Hear from all sides.The truth is always somewhere in the middle.

Most importantly, create a transparent open door policy where your team is encouraged to share what they’re thinking without any embarassing repercussions.


19. Passing the buck: The need to blame everyone but ourselves.

The worst boss I ever worked for had this habit down to a T. Let me change that. He had the majority of these 20 bad habits well ingrained in his miserable makeup.

Yup,  this was one fugly boss.

They enjoyed the blame game. They were never wrong. There was never a reason why we shouldn’t make our sales numbers. Yes, that includes being in a recession. Delusional? Ya, tell me about it.

Break the Bad Habit: 

When I think of this former manager I wonder if there’s any hope for them.

I mean, not everyone is coachable.

Having said that, assuming you are open to a transformation, compile your personal board of directors. People you can trust. Those folks who will be candid with you and tell you how you’re showing up.

Hire a coach and have them follow you around. See how your leadership style is showing up with the team.

Last, be open to the feedback you receive from the coach. That’s only if you want to change.

20. An excessive need to be “me”: Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they’re who we are.

I’m a believer in being yourself. Being real. Being, to use a platitudinous word, authentic.

Now, there are leaders who have lots of faults and in spite of themselves still deliver the goods.

Most of the corporate world believes in one thing and one thing only. Performance and consistent outstanding results.

Why change?

Break the Bad Habit: 

That’s the question. Why change this habit or any of the others?

Because you can’t stand being the person who you’ve become.

Because you want to be known for something much bigger than yourself.

Because you want the model the way for your followers so they’ll uplevel their own behavior.

Because the employee turnover stat is slowly creeping north.

Because you want to become something of significance.

Because you want to set an example for your family.

Because nobody wants to be in your presence.

Because you want to be the leader that plays all the instruments at the highest level.


What’s your because?

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