Learning what to stop doing…

Peter Drucker once said, “Most leaders don’t need to learn what to do… they need to learn what to stop.”

How true!  Can you imagine your boss admitting a personal failing and outlining his efforts to stop doing it?

Probably not!  And there are probably some good reasons for this.  Leaders try to maintain a positive tone and commitment to positive action for very good reason.  Recognition and reward systems acknowledge the doing of something.  Leaders get credit for doing good things-rarely for ceasing to do bad things!

So what IS wrong with us?

The top 20 flaws that hold most people back are rarely flaws of skill, intelligence, or personality. They are usually challenges in interpersonal behaviour, often leadership behaviour. They are the multitude of everyday annoyances that can make your workplace a noxious environment to be in. They are typically transactional flaws performed by one person against others.

  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 desire to add our two cents worth to every discussion.
  3. Passing judgment: The need to rate others and impose our standards on them.
  4. Making destructive comments: The needless sarcasms and cutting remarks that we think make us sound 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 aren’t asked.
  9. Withholding information: The refusal to share information to gain or 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 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 of blaming everyone else.
  14. Playing favourites: 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 recognise how our actions affect others.
  16. Not listening: The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect.
  17. Failing to express gratitude: The most basic form of bad manners.
  18. Punishing the messenger: The misguided need to attack the innocents who are only 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.

Admittedly, this is a scary pantheon of bad behaviour, and together they sound like a chamber of horrors.  Who would want to work in a culture where colleagues are guilty of these sins?  And yet we do every day.  The good news is that these failings rarely show up in bunches.  You may know one person guilty of one or two of them.  But it’s hard to find successful people who embody many of them.

So isn’t it time that you took an honest look at the things that others might find less than motivating in the way that you interact at work; that you decide what you are going to STOP doing and get on DOING the things that build successful relationships and motivated high performing teams?

It’s not always that easy, though is it?

We can’t always see or be aware of how we impact on others.  It was Robert Burns who said “If only God the gift would give us to see ourselves as others see us” – well that might be a taller order, but working with a coach can help you gain the insight and awareness needed to understand where your behaviour impacts adversely on your team… and help you move towards far more productive and motivating ways of interacting.

What have you got to lose?!