What Do You Need to Stop?


“We spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do. We don’t spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop. Half the leaders I have met don’t need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop.”

~Management expert Peter Drucker, as quoted by Marshall Goldsmith in What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, 2007

Almost all of us delude ourselves about our workplace achievements, status and contributions. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can certainly mislead us when we are told we need to change.

It can be challenging for high-level executives to improve their interpersonal skills. We tend to believe the habits that have helped us rack up achievements in the past will continue to foster success in the future. But as the title of his recent book asserts, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, according to executive coach Marshall Goldsmith.

The more frequently you are promoted to higher levels of executive responsibility, the more important your interpersonal relationship skills to your success — and the more challenging it is to change bad habits.

It’s natural for successful people to believe that what contributed to their past accomplishments will continue to work for them. They also assume that they can –and will –succeed, no matter what.

“Just give me a goal, and let the games begin!” they think to themselves.

But when it comes to changing the way we interact with our peers and direct reports, we often fail to recognize the steps required for ongoing results.

Part of this stems from healthy denial, while part may be sheer ignorance. Only when confronted with performance or promotional issues do we begin to open our minds to change.

Instead of looking at what else we need to achieve, perhaps a better question is, “What do I need to stop doing?”

How can our relationships improve by stopping some of the things we do that may be annoying to others? Do we even know what those might be? How can we find out?

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