Let Me Tell You How It Could Be Better…

I’ve been re-reading Marshall Goldsmith’s What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. In it, he lists 21 habits most successful people need to stop. There are some real gems on the list. I’ve already mentioned not saying “thank you” or “I’m sorry”.

Here’s another one: adding too much value. It’s when someone comes to you with an idea, and you respond by telling them how it would be even better. Here’s how the conversation goes.

Imagine you’re the CEO. I come to you with an idea you like. You say, “That’s a great idea, good suggestion.” But instead of saying “Thank you for that,” you can’t resist adding value.

You say, “And it’d be even better if we do this, instead.” You may improve the value of the idea by 5 percent, but you’ve just reduced my commitment to it by 50 percent. You’ve taken away my ownership of the idea. It’s now become your idea, based on something I said.

Whatever the gain is in the form of an improved idea has now been lost in terms of commitment to executing it.

For bosses, this means it’s really important to monitor how you hand out encouragement. The higher up in an organization you go, the more crucial it is to make other people winners. It’s not about winning yourself.

Perhaps a way to become a better leader is to say less, add less. It doesn’t mean you should stifle your ideas. But how can you get your people to come up with better ideas themselves.

Often asking a good question and remaining silent is an effective way of stimulating others to think and come up with ideas and solutions.

It’s hard to remain silent when we are always thinking, always creating, always improving on ideas. Don’t let your tendency to add value stifle someone else’s creativity and commitment to execution.

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