What Will You Give Up?

Sometimes when you focus on improving skills to get better at your job, you neglect thinking about whether there is something that you ought to eliminate.

This is especially important as a leader, since your behavior is being observed by your employees and may be adopted as their own.

I once worked with two leaders who needed to improve their interpersonal skills. They had been so rude and abrasive to their staff that a senior level employee filed a legal complaint against them.

Neither of them thought that they were doing anything wrong, and in fact, neither was receptive to coaching. The head of the group knew that he was coarse and uncompromising but didn’t care. He was an outstanding practitioner in his field and felt that this is what mattered.

The other leader surprised me. It turned out that she mimicked the group head’s style because she assumed that this was the best way to be successful. Even though it felt uncomfortable, it had never occurred to her that harsh behavior was inappropriate.

When I asked her if she’d be willing to give it up, she agreed to do so in a heartbeat. The group head was a little tougher, but he acquiesced to lighten up when he considered the consequences of further legal complaints.

What are you doing that you can give up? I doubt that your weakness is as severe as the example I just gave, but chances are, you can change something that will make you more effective.

Think about teaming up with an accountability partner. Each of you can identify something that you want to give up, and report back to each other regularly on your progress. Not only does this help you stay on task, but your partner can give you feedback if you get stuck.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
– Henry David Thoreau

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