Saturday, August 18, 2007

Good Manners is Good Management

I came across this book while reading a Knowledge @ Wharton article/review. I highly recommend reading the article. If you are like me, it will make you run out and buy the book.

The author of the book, Marshall Goldsmith, is a veteran executive coach. He is ranked highly by Forbes and the Wall Street Journal for his work as a coach. His book is a best seller on multiple charts.

This book is elegant in its simplicity. There is no cheese moving here. The K@W review makes a comparison to the Who Moved My Cheese phenomenon. (I remember walking into a staffing agency one day. They were trying to land me as a client. They had a whole area devoted to that book. Banners, inflatable cheese. Sigh.)

As the article says: a certain professional level, neither intelligence nor skill accounts for the fact that some people continue to advance while others plateau. What differentiates the one from the other...has nothing to do with one's abilities, experience and training - and everything to do with behavior.
The focus is on emotional intelligence. It might even be more basic than that. It is about basic etiquette. Miss Manners for corporate executives. Goldsmith lists 20 habits that hold us back from the top. He then dives into methods and techniques for going about how to improve. Goldsmith calls the 20 - "transactional flaws". They are:

1. Winning too much: The need to win at all costs and in all situations - when it matters, when it doesn't, and when it's 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 that we don't deserve: The most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success.

12. Making excuses: The need to reposition our annoying behavior 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 favorites: Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly.

15. Refusing to express regret: The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we're wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.

16. Not listening: The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for our 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.

Bonus 21: Goal Obsession: The force at play when we get so wrapped up in achieving our goal that we do it at the expense of a larger mission.
I just went through leadership training at work. This book would have been an excellent take away. The training really focused on the practice of "mindfulness". Being aware of yourself and your environment. Not getting caught up. The book has helped me in a couple of ways - and I expect it to continue to be valuable to me throughout my career.

First, it is helping me be more mindful of how I act and present myself to my teams. Second, it is helping me continue to define what I am looking for out of my "path". Lastly, I find Goldsmith completely compelling. I WANT to change. I WANT to improve myself. I WANT to do better.

I will close with a quote from the K@W article:

The beauty of Goldsmith's approach lies not just in the simplicity of his insights, but also in the clarity of his advice. Because it is our behavior that holds us back, he argues, we can change our future by changing how we act. The key to a better future comes from learning to listen to what others have to tell us about our behavior.
You DID learn everything you need to know in kindergarten. So true. So true.

1 comment:

Stacy said...

This book by Marshall Goldsmith is great ... really sets the theme excellently .. I highly recommend this as much as generic viagra ...