I was out with my friend Larry recently and we were discussing children. I don’t know how we got there, but he said, “you are being recorded,” and I knew exactly what he meant. That line started a very useful train of thought for me.
Whatever we do and say is being recorded, either consciously or unconsciously, by our children and others around us. This realization reminded me of a great book I read when first published (in 1986) by my friends Ken and Linda Schatz, “Managing By Influence”. My big take-away was: “You Can Never Not Lead.” (The way to get that book these days is by writing to Ken at ManagingByInfluence@gmail.com.)
My next stop on this train of thought was recalling Marshall Goldsmith’s recent classic, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”. He asks leaders to rev up their game in order to grow into being better leaders. I love this book. Goldsmith points to habits which unwittingly hold you back, and also hold back your company. Here is one example from my own life.
Early in my career I was a computer programmer and a systems analyst. I always looked for things that could go wrong; I had to make sure my programs were able to handle anything. Fast forward several years to running my computer distribution company. It was bugging me in a creative brainstorming session that some people were being pretty negative. “Oh, that won’t work” or “that’s really risky” were some of the comments. I asked what was going on, why so negative, and one person had the wisdom to say, “Hey, Lowell, you made us that way.”
A big a-ha for me.
Of Goldsmith’s 20-plus habits that inhibit your growth, I’ve chosen just four for you to consider. For more self -awareness, see the book.
1. Passing judgment. After asking people to voice their opinion, do you express a negative opinion of their opinion? You may be stifling them. Try simply saying “thank you”.
2. Making destructive or sarcastic comments. Your excuse that your critical statement is true is no excuse. A more useful concern is whether your statement adds some value. (I have a tendency to be sarcastic myself.)
3. Withholding important information. This is common when you expect or assume your subordinate “should know” or be able to read your mind. Check in to make sure they know exactly what you want accomplished – and by when.
4. An excessive need to be “me”. Do you honestly believe you get away with “I’m just not good at returning phone calls or emails”? Nope. You are setting a pretty low standard.
Again, whether you know it or not, your actions and attitudes are being recorded and people are noticing. You can never not lead.
If anything you read here suggests a personal behavior that needs a tune-up, why not make an agreement to do something about it? Admit to the habit and send us a Comment. Tell us what you realized about yourself. You might even tell us what you will do about it. If you want privacy, just send an email directly to me: Lowell[at]CoachLowell.com. I will follow up with you, gratis, and do my best to guide you to developing and practicing a more productive habit.