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Are Any Of These Familiar?

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“Habits are much easier to maintain than commitments” ~ Seth Godin

Here at the Grilled Cheese Coaching Company we’ve had the privilege to work with high-potential (HiPo) employees representing almost every major geography, role, function and career stage. As a result, we’ve been able to observe some patterns of behavior that can show up for this fascinating group of employees.

Of course, there are always many very positive habits and behaviors present, derived from a:

  • Commitment to personal and professional growth and development
  • Commitment to the success of the organization, often well above and beyond the average employee
  • Desire to increase their contribution and impact to the organization

That is, after all, why they were singled out as high-potential in the first place. However, as Marshall Goldsmith so succinctly put it with his brilliant book title ‘What got you here won’t get you there’, the very behaviors that led to that  designation can sometimes become the barriers to long term success.

Here’s a list of seven such behaviors or habits, in no particular order:

  1. Taking on too much: The saying, “If you want something done, ask a busy person” has never been more true with HiPos. Word will spread across the organization that this person gets results, and the work will flow to them. A HiPo will relish the recognition and opportunity to contribute each time and, if left unchecked, will lead to an unsustainable workload.
  2. Not saying “No”: A significant contributor to (1) is the desire of the HiPo to always say yes, both to demonstrate their commitment to the organization and their belief that they will probably do a better job than most anyway.
  3. Failing to delegate or partner: As a HiPo is often focused on delivering the very best work, it’s hard for them to partner with others, especially when they believe that this will lead to a lower quality output.
  4. Avoiding failure: Getting it right the first time, every time, can become seductive for the HiPo, to the extent that they fear failure. This can lead to stagnation as they begin to play it safe.
  5. Chasing Perfection: When the HiPo develops a sense that perfect is possible, they may pursue this like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, trying to get to the perfect answer, or to deliver the perfect work, and consuming ever more cycles in the process.
  6. Going the extra mile: When you run a marathon, you typically stop at the finish line – unless you’re a HiPo, addicted to ‘exceeding expectations’ on every project. While it’s great to do great work, sometimes ‘good enough’ is good enough.
  7. Sacrificing what really matters: A consequence of the above is that the HiPo loses track of what is really important to them, and they make choices in the short term that do not serve their long-term life-plan.

Do any of these sound familiar? We’ve witnessed every one of these situations to some degree, and often more than one in any given individual.

Here’s the good news though: None of these habits and behaviors are inevitable, and with careful management they can all be avoided, without reducing (and in most cases increasing) your impact.

This week’s inquiry…

How are your [bad] habits holding you back?

Dive Deeper…

Habits shape the course of our lives. Whether bad or good, conscious or unconscious, they are what we are. In this great talk, James Clear discusses how to take small, sustainable, daily steps towards big change.

“People think they lack motivation, when in fact they lack clarity.”

In a book title that tells you almost everything you need to know – Marshall Goldsmith offers a powerful explanation as to why our careers can stall, particularly when transitioning from Individual Contributor to Manager. It is often the case that those habits and behaviors that got us so far will become the very habits and behaviors that hold us back.

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