What Got You Here Wont Get You There Book Review

Note: Whilst this post is in part a book review for you the reader it is really aimed at me hence some of the commentary is ‘personal’

The What Got You Here Won’t Get You There book states that a handful of bad habits can hold successful people back from making their next step forward in their career.

The author, Marshall Goldsmith, is a leadership guru and is well worth listening to (disclaimer: I have only skim read the book and have also borrowed bits for this summary from across the web e.g. wiki’s)

Section One: The Trouble With Success

Do not believe the hype 😉 Do not become complacent. Do not become cocky as a result of you being successful thus far as that does not guarantee future success in a different role. Be humble. Be grounded.

Section Two: The Twenty Habits That Hold You Back From The Top

  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 judgment: 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. Neativity, 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 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 recognize 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 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.

I need to focus on 2, 3, 6 & 20.

Some people also need to focus on the 21st habit which is goal obsession. Basically people lose sight of ‘the now’ by focusing too much on long term goals.

Section Three: How We Can Change For The Better

The book offers 7 good behaviours to deal with the above 20-21 bad behaviours:

Feedback – seek it and do not argue with it. Suck it up and ponder on it with a cool head. Be grateful for it even if it is scathing (disclaimer: as long as it was not given with ulterior motives) .

Apologise – Just do it.

Telling the world – After apologising tell the (relevant) world what you are going to do to change your behaviour.

Listening – When someone speaks, actively listen without interrupting. Understand and ponder before responding.

Thank people – Does what it says on the tin.

Following up – After working on your bad habits follow up on them with the people you were ‘practicing’ them on. Are you improving?

Practicing “feedforward” – Ask for future feedback; seek counsel on areas you could improve upon for future development.

Section Four: Pulling Out the Stops

Section Summary: Be Honestly (where necessary; Sensitively) Candid.

Be clear with those reporting to you what is expected of them and also be clear with your boss on what is expected of you.

If you see the above 20-21 issues popping up in those individuals provide feedback mano et mano by nipping problems in the bud early.

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