Tagged: leadership

The 20 habits that prevent you from getting to the top (part 5 of 5)

(this is the last [fifth] part of a five part series)

As I mentioned before, i’ll follow-up the habits with some commentary on how I see these in my daily life.

The 20 habits that prevent you from getting to the top

16. Not listening: the most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues. 

Not listening, or it’s close cousin “interrupting someone mid-sentence” is one those habits that you’ll spend a lifetime correcting if you don’t have awareness you’re doing it wrong and the tools to do it better.

Personally, I struggle more with not-interrupting as I tend to jump-in mid conversation if something didn’t quite sound right or if I (think) I know what the other person is going to say.

On the other hand, making sure other people feel listened-to is one of those things I know helps build great rapport from the start and sets relationships on a high note from the get-go.

Here’s what I think helps:

First, get back to the “now” by scanning your body for sensations from your head to your toes (i usually wiggle my toes as a result). You know those Simpson’s cartoons in where the boss is speaking and all Homer can hear is “blah blah blah”. Scanning your body tunes the moment back to the present and helps turn that voice from “blah blah blah” to something useful.

Second, paraphrase. Use your own words (or better yet use their own) to recap what you’ve heard. “Can I paraphrase to make sure I understood you right? I heard you say X and then Y. Is that right?”

Finally, apologise. If you find yourself interrupting, make sure you apologise and are the one aware of your own fault, before someone points it out to you. This does not help with the problem per say, but the first step being awareness, from that moment on you’ve committed publicly not to do it again.

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The 20 habits that prevent you from getting to the top (part 4 of 5)

(this is the fourth part of a five part series)

As I mentioned before, i’ll follow-up the habits with some commentary on how I see these in my daily life.

The 20 habits that prevent you from getting to the top

11. Claiming credit that we don’t deserve: the most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success. 

Claiming credit we don’t deserve is, if anything, severely annoying. This day and age, it’s almost delusional to think that anything worth accomplishing is accomplished alone. You know that, and believe me, other people know that as well.

Yet, what is also true is that people love faces and stories. Steve Jobs didn’t sat down to design the iPhone yet people see him as the man that brought it to the world. This attribution phenomena is a common one, and you should expect it (or even take it as an opportunity) when communicating to other people about the amazing job your team did.

Standing up and saying “my team did all the work, not me” is humble, but pointless. Does this mean that you should go in front of the camera’s and say that it’s all your invention and everybody should feel so lucky that you’re even talking to them about it? – definitely not. Bear with me while I explain further.

You see, when you say “my team did all the work, not me” the only thing people hear about that message is “not me”. That you didn’t do it and you’re just a spoke person for some huge expensive structure of people, processes and tools that somehow managed to [luck maybe?] deliver results. As one of my mentors told me, as good as this structure is, they still need someone to coordinate, provide direction and leadership, and that’s you. Leadership is either implicit or explicit. By taking ownership, directing and delivering results, you promote accountability for delivering the results. It means you can take ownership to improve things and to do so at the risk of failure. If anything goes wrong, everybody knows who’s to blame. Think football managers (they’re not the ones kicking the ball in the field you know?). The opposite is a team in where somebody is involved but not committed to be in charge. In this sort of team, you don’t do anything perceived as risky, and when things go wrong, usually fingers start pointing.

You’re only a “genius with a thousand helpers” if you start trying (and failing) to answer all questions, from UX to product features passing by operations and architecture.

Be the face that is accountable for the success or failure of what you’re doing – be the face that your stakeholders attribute to the structure of people, processes and tools that deliver success and take your core team with you to do so reliably, wherever you go. Just don’t stand in front of everybody pretending you had no help.

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The 20 habits that prevent you from getting to the top (part 2 of 5)

(this is the second part of a five part series)

As I mentioned before, i’ll follow-up the habits with some commentary on how I see these in my daily life.

The 20 habits that prevent you from getting to 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 besides the point.

This one I find mostly when there are differences of opinion between parties. Say you’re in a call, somebody says we ought do A, somebody else says doing B is so much better. Sometimes people are even agreeing but doing it so violently that it has to stem out of a need to win (in this case when it doesn’t matter). The best way to resolve these is with a common higher up purpose. We often come back to “what’s best for customers?”. Another common higher up purpose can be built by having a product plan in where you specified priorities and a framework for making decisions in advance.

What’s key for me is that sometimes it’s just ok to say “lets do B”, and move on. Energy, willpower and focus are finite resources and we are doing a disservice to the company if we debate every single detail instead of focusing on adding value to the end result. Sometimes nobody knows the answer, so A is as good as B. Discussing it to eternity is not the point, not trying to have your word as the final say however, is (specially when you end up  more time discussing than doing).

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