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Bad Habits For Leaders

The hardest thing for a CEO to know is what are the bad habits for leaders? Which of the many things we do are the ones that really, in the long run, add no value to the business? In other words, ‘where am I wasting my time and energy?’

The challenge is how to identify what I should I stop doing? I cannot work it out. I think if I put enough energy and effort into everything – some of it will work. But really that is a massive opportunity cost on my time.

So when asked the question by the author of ‘What got you here Won’t get you there’ Marshall Goldsmith – I was challenged to have a deeper look at my real contribution to the growth of RedBalloon. From where I sit as a leader I cannot see. So I need to ask people around me their insights.

This week I have been asking the very confronting question: ‘How can I be a better: leader/manager/wife/mother/blogger/tweeter/speaker/daughter etc –  all the roles that I play (feel free to comment on any of these). This I believe will give me a greater insight into how I can best contribute.

Goldsmith tells us that there are four classic challenges to leadership:

  1. Wanting to win too much (at the expense of bringing people with you)
  2. Adding too much value (can damage commitment with those people around you) I remember one of my bosses years ago used to rewrite every word I wrote. In the end I stopped trying because I knew he would just do it for me anyway.
  3. Telling the world how smart we are (ho-hum, get over yourself, you didn’t do it on your own)
  4. When someone brings you something of interest – responding ‘I already knew that’

Remember the old adage ‘An achiever is all about me: A leader it’s all about them.’

The greatest gift of any leader is to listen – and to give up trying to be better than anyone else. A leader is a person who unites the group based on a shared sense of purpose.

Goldsmith poses an interesting challenge: If someone tells you something –listen without judgment and give up responding with a ‘no’, ‘but’ or ‘however’. If you do start the sentence with one of these words you are effectively ‘belittling’ the other person’s contribution, because it appears as if you are trying to prove that you know more.

In addition to listening without judgment, he suggested learning as much as you can and offering as much help as you can… it will transform your leadership.

In doing this I plan to work out what I should stop doing… and do more of the things that are adding the most value.

Reader Interactions


  1. Naomi – Thank you so much for following-up on our conversation! Best wishes for great success.

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