S. Amir Kohan

The 21 Bad Habits That Derail a Leader’s Effectiveness

In Marshall Goldsmith’s work, he identifies the 21 habits of behavior that derail
a leader’s effectiveness and holds them back. These behaviors have to change and adapt
to the level of leadership a person’s career grows into. The 21 bad habits are as follows:

1. Winning too much The need to win at all costs and in all situations.
2. Adding too much value A desire to add two cents to every discussion.
3. Passing judgment The need to evaluate others and impose our standards/values
on them.
4. Making destructive comments Sarcasm and cutting remarks.
5. Starting with “no,” “but,” or “however” The overuse of these negative
qualifiers, which conveys “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 in communications.
8. Negativity (“Let me explain why that won’t work.”) The need to share our
negative thoughts.
9. Withholding information The refusal to share information for an advantage
over others.
10. Failing to give proper recognition The inability to provide praise, rewards,
and compliments.
11. Claiming credit we do not deserve The overestimate of our contribution to
some success.
12. Making excuses The need to excuse annoying behavior as a permanent fixture
so others will excuse us for it.
13. Clinging to the past The need to deflect blame away from ourselves; this is a
subset of blaming everyone else.
14. Playing favorites Failing to see that we treat someone unfairly.
15. Refusing to express regret The inability to take responsibility for our actions.
16. Not listening to The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for others.
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
providing information.
19. Passing the buck Blaming everyone but ourselves.
20. An excessive need to be “me” Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they
embody who we are.
21. Refusing to accept any responsibility for needing to change “That’s just the
way I am. Take it or leave it.”


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