As leaders, we must all focus on improving our skills.

Marshall Goldsmith, a renowned business coach and What Got You Here Won't Get You Thereauthor of several bestsellers, suggests another approach based on working on our flaws or, as he says, « stop being a jerk »!

How? By simply acknowledging that we have some bad behaviors that can affect our team and consequently be a barrier to excelling.

In his book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith suggests that breaking bad habits is by far easier than learning new skills, but also that consequent changes will have a positive impact on your surrounding.

I picked 5 of the 20 habits one can work on.

  • The habit of always wanting to win. Whether beating your kid at sport (!), noticing each and every mistake that falls in front of your eyes, or criticizing the meal you’ve been served in a restaurant, question yourself « what will I gain » or even « what will I lose » emitting this criticism.
    Sometimes, it’s okay that your meal is not the best ever. Just eat it and focus on having a good time with your companion instead.
  • The habit to add too much value: « Well, it’s a good idea, but I’d add that if we… ».
    What you’ll add might improve the idea by 5%, but you’ll reduce the commitment of your peer who now feels that it’s not their idea anymore.
    Let people appreciate that it’s their idea that will be implemented: they’ll work a lot more to put it in place and will be accountable for it, which in turn will reduce the need to push for results. Isn’t it a real win-win situation?
  • The habit of passing judgment:  This is a tough one to change for those who are guilty.
    When people share their thoughts with you, don’t pass judgment, whether positive or negative.
    Remain neutral, thank them for sharing and take the idea with you. If it’s a criticism, act the same way. Acknowledge their comments and thank them. If they are constructive, it’s a gift for you. If they’re abrasive and repetitive, you might want to act on it.
  • the habit to start answering with « No », « But » or « However »: Using these words is like saying « you’re wrong ».
    Refrain from using these words and invite your surrounding to be aware of how many times they do use these words.
  • The failing to give proper recognition habit: One of your primary roles as a leader is to cheer your people.
    There are so many occasions to congratulate your people for their work that it’s more a question of adding this to your schedule and making sure that you become « King Compliment ».
    Another trigger is when you need to discuss an issue with someone, ask yourself how many times it’s been since you recognize efforts that they’ve done, and make sure to correct the situation.

You want a fun way to implement these changes: do it as a team! Next week, anyone who uses « No », « But » or « However » when answering will put $1 in a bucket and this money will pay for the 4 pm beer on Friday (you might even have enough money for snacks as well…)

Then observe the positive outcome on the overall productivity.

Getting rid of one’s bad habit is definitely a great way to improve your leadership!