Book Review: What got you HERE won’t get you THEREPosted on October 21st, 2009 by Paul McArdle – 5 Comments
Having completed our business autopsy back in July and implemented a number of changes resulting from this, we have not left it at that. Rather, in a similar way to our philosophy of lifetime learning, we also support a principle of lifetime improvement (from a combination of numerous small increments, or larger step-changes).
This had been read and reviewed many months ago by someone else, but I did not recall the details**.
** This is one reason why we have instituted the process of having book reviews posted on the blog, for future reference as memory joggers (basically, to ensure we actually gain better value from what we read).
1) Binary Review
Maybe because I could not recall the previous review, this book was not what I expected….
What we thought
“What got you here won’t get you there - how successful people become even more successful”by Marshall Goldsmith
… but I found it excellent!
|Full Disclosure – yes, that’s a tracked link to Amazon shown above. We buy quite a large number of books on a wide range of topics, all relevant to our business in some way. If you did happen to purchase the book from Amazon, they’d throw a few shekels our way, which would help us to buy (and hence publish reviews of) even more books. Hence, Karma would return the benefits to you…|
2) Basic Principle
The book has been written to provide assistance to successful executives who may have risen rapidly in their organisation only to find their future progression is seriously hampered (perhaps unbeknownst to them) by one or more bad habits that is materially impacting on their prospects for enhancement.
“Get out your notepad. Instead of your usual “To Do” list, start your “To Stop” list. By the end of this book, your list might grow” (p37)
I have started mine, and am looking to fine-tune it, as discussed below.
Stage 1 = The other party must be confused
Stage 2 = We go into denial mode (i.e. if this is a shortcoming, why am I so successful?)
Stage 3 = We attack the messenger.
Hence the pretext to the book:
“Four key beliefs help us to become successful:
Belief 1 = I have succeeded (i.e. proof)
Belief 2 = I can succeed (i.e. belief)
Belief 3 = I will succeed (i.e. motivation)
Belief 4 = I choose to succeed (i.e. self-determination)
Each can make it tough for us to change. These beliefs that carried us here may be holding us back in our quest to get there” (p17)
I find it a little ironic that there are 7 habits of highly effective people (which are so difficult to master), but there are so many (at least 20, it seems) bad habits that hamper your performance – and these are difficult to shake!
4) The 20 Bad Habits
The author makes it clear that the book does not address flaws in skill, in intelligence or in personality. Instead, I’ve inferred from the book that, generally speaking, people suffering significant suffering significant flaws in these areas probably will not have advanced very high up the ladder anyway.
Rather, the author points out that the book is written to address “challenges in interpersonal behaviour, often leadership behaviour” (p39)
The author lists 20 bad habits as follows:
|1||Winning too much||You need to win at all costs and in all situations – when it matters, when it doesn’t, and when its totally beside the point.
|2||Adding too much value||The overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion|
|3||Passing judgement||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 sharp and 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 weren’t asked|
|9||Withholding information||The refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others|
|10||Failing to give proper recognition||The inability to praise and reward|
|11||Claiming credit 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 when we’re wrong, or recognise how our actions affect others.|
|16||Not listening||The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues|
|17||Failing to express gratitude||The most basic form of bad manners|
|18||Punishing the messenger||The misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually 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.|
Note that the book contains about 50 pages of explanations of the above – I would strongly urge you to buy and read the book to get the fuller picture.
When I read through this list the first time, I was struck with two main thoughts:
1) Firstly, I could recall examples of when I had slipped into most (if not all) of the bad habits over the course of my career.
2) Secondly, I was more amazed to see that – no matter whose image I conjured up (employees, partners, customers, friends, etc…) – it was generally only 1 or 2 (or at most 3) of the habits that immediately sprung to mind.
Hence, it was no surprise (on reflection) that the author echoed my conclusion – whilst it may be that we sometimes fall over in a large number of ways, it will generally be in only a select number of areas in which our failures are significantly impacting on our performance.
The extension of this conclusion, then, is that:
1) We only need to focus on improving (for now) those failures which are having the greatest negative impact on our performance.
2) It is impossible for us to work out, on our own, what those areas are – to identify these, we must ask other people (customers, employees, managers, friends, etc…)
5) Effecting Change
More time is devoted, in the book, to this topic than to the details of what the 20 shortcomings are.
This is deliberate, in my view, as this is where the “going gets tough”. It’s also where the real value lies.
For internal stakeholders, I will link more here about how to progressively remove our bad habits – eventually!
6) What it Means for Us
I found the book to be a very useful wake-up call – both for myself personally, and also for the company (as a collection of individuals, each with their own shortcomings to address).
In order that we can actually benefit from the book, it’s clear that we’ll need to be canvassing a range of people for feedback on our performance, to date.
Hence, if you are a client, employee or friend, then you might look forward to hearing further from us (once we’ve identified the simplest methodology to put in place).