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The 12 Bad Habits That Hold Good People Back: Overcoming the Behavior Patterns That Keep You From Getting Ahead Paperback – October 16, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Advance Acclaim for Maximum Success
"An intelligent and insightful guide to that essential task: managing your own career."
-Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
"In a world full of self-help books, it is high time someone addressed the issue of identifying and correcting the 'fatal flaws' that derail many executives in the midst of apparently promising careers. Maximum Success takes you step by step through a process to identify and correct the key negative behavior patterns that can throw you or your high-potential employees off track. Invaluable!"
-Stephen R. Mercer, Vice President of Learning and Leadership Development, Boeing
"Dead-on accurate in its diagnoses and enormously helpful in its recommendations. A must-have for every manager and every employee."
-Eileen Grabowski, Vice President, Firmwide Recruiting, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
"Every day I have the privilege of reading about the accomplishments of some of the world's great young leaders. No matter what you aspire to do, this book should help you stay on track and reach your potential. A must read."
-Kirsten Moss, Managing Director, MBA Admissions, Harvard Business School
"Maximum Success is maximally useful. Based upon the authors' many years of experience, this book tells us about the most common mistakes people make and shows how they can correct them. Written in a strong, straightforward style, this book can save careers, save businesses, save individuals from the tragedy of wasting great talent because of a fatal flaw. It shows what to do-before it is too late."
-Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of Driven to Distraction --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The authors are both business psychologists, executive coaches for those with career problems, and directors of MBA career development at Harvard Business School. The book is well illustrated with examples of their concepts, drawn from actual cases they have worked on. I suspect you will recognize people you have met, as well as yourself, in these cases.
As the authors are well aware, a major flaw can sink someone who is otherwise a top performer. Improving an area where the person is strong will do less good than getting the substandard area up to normal or better.
Based on their years of experience they note, 'The ways people fail in their careers, however, are quite limited. People fail in the same ways, for the same reasons, over and over again, from one industry to another, from the lowest level to the highest . . . Moreover . . . many . . . people are amazingly unaware of the patterns of behavior they exhibit that are resulting in failure.' Talk about unconscious incompetence!
Part I of the book identifies 12 behaviors that can hold you back.
1. Never Feeling Good Enough (acrophobia or fear of career progress)
2. Seeing the World in Black and White (meritocrat or not seeing the relevance of loyalty, self-interest, or personality)
3. Doing Too Much, Pushing Too Hard (a hero, with an Achilles heel from overdoing it)
4. Avoiding Conflict at Any Cost (peacekeeper, who avoids even healthy conflict such as that required to overcome misconceptions)
5. Running Roughshod over the Opposition (bulldozer, a male role similar to an offensive lineman in football)
6. Rebel Looking for a Cause (rebels, who want attention more than results)
7. Always Swinging for the Fences (a home run style swinger who strikes out most of the time)
8. When Fear Is in the Driver's Seat (a pessimistic worrier, a naysayer out of fear)
9. Emotionally Tone Deaf (Mr. Spock from Star Trek, low emotional intelligence)
10. When No Job Is Good Enough (Coulda-been, who moves on because they feel inadequate, but don't want to face up to that)
11. Lacking a Sense of Boundaries (People who talk out of school)
12. Losing the Path (Alienated people who have lost their career vision of what they want from a career)
Each chapter in Part I contains a description of the dynamics of each pattern, how that role plays out in an organization, what the origins of the pattern are, and how to break the pattern. In the last case, the advice is sometimes different if the pattern is your own versus when you are trying to help someone else (such as a subordinate or peer) to do so. These are at least two examples in each section, evenly balanced between women and men.
In Part II, the authors look at the four psychological causes of these 12 behavioral problems:
1. Having a negatively-distorted self-image.
2. Not seeing the perspectives of others.
3. Not coming to terms with authority.
4. Not being comfortable with using power.
The authors describe in the chapters of Part I which of these base causes are involved with which patterns, and chapter 16 gives you help with examining your self-image. There is also a good section in Takeaways for ways to make the needed changes. The chapters also contain useful material to understand your own perceptual style from a Jungian perspective.
I found all of this material clear, and usefully directive.
But something more important was missing. I did not feel any strong desire to change, even where I could identify weaknesses. If you are like me, you will need to talk this through with your spouse, a close friend, or a colleague to help create the motivation to change. If you can afford and find an executive coach, that would be a good route also. If you cannot, you will have to rely on self-help. In this regard, you might find it useful to read or reread a book like Anthony Robbin's Awaken the Giant Within, which is excellent for helping to create the necessary self-motivation to change.
My suggestion is that you think about a situation that will probably happen in the future that you will regret for the rest of your life if you do not change. Maybe you'll have to move to another country to get a new job, and be cut off from your parents at a time when they need your help. Or perhaps your struggling teenager will have to move at a bad time in his or her high school years, harming your teenager's development. You know better than I what the risks are in your life and what you would regret. But do take the time to create a specific, realistic fear to replace the unrealistic one(s) you have today.
To depict the 12 hebavior patterns, the authors cleverly use different simple scenarios and business cases to address the orgins of the problem & pattern. They explain why the behavior patterns may limit your career advancement and how should break the behaviour patterns. I personally found that some patterns breaking approach could be helpful but some don't and lack of practical details. The authors seem to suggest most of the cases that the root of these behaviour patterns are arised out of childhood development. Well, I am not sure this is completely correct but you can certainly find more explanation in Part II of the book.
The 12 bad habits that hold good people back are listed below:
1. Never feeling good enough
2. Seeing the world in black & white
3. Doing too much, pushing too hard
4. Avoiding conflict at any cost
5. Running roughshod over the opposition
6. Rebel looking for a cause
7. Always swinging for the fence
8. When the fear is in the driver's seat
9. Emotionally tone-deaf
10. When no job is good enough
11. Lacking a sense of boundaries
12. Losing the path
To make readers easy to understand and remember these 12 behavior patterns, the authors also name these bad habits as the following easy terms:
Feeling in their heart of hearts that they don't deserve to be where they have been placed.
Seeing the world black & white, with answers that are right or wrong, all weighed on a perfectly fair scale and judged accordingly, on their merits alone.
Constantly trying to do too much and pushing too hard on both themselves and other people.
Going out of the way to avoid conflict, because of uncertainty about how it will end up.
Talking and acting tough, bullying people, taking no prisoners, and leveling anyone and anything that gets in the way.
To defy authority and everything associated with authority, including societal tradition, company custom, and good taste.
7. Home run hitter
Expecting & demanding extraordinary and immediate success.
Seeing the negative and almost nothing but the negative; and worrying about it to excess.
9. Mr. Spocks
Having a hard time recognizing and understanding fear, love, anger, jealousy, greed, compassion, and other emotions in themselves or in others.
These people have very little tolerance for hard work and little patience, not because they're lazy, but because doing the work to get to the top means that they're not already there. When they seem to be saying is "No job is good enough," but what they actually feel inside is "I'm not good enough for any job."
11. Loose Lips
The person who lacks an appropriate sense of boundaries doesn't understand that some subjects belong in the office and some belong only in certain corners of the office and definitely not outside.
12. Dig Deeper
Feeling they have lost their sense of direction, or a sense of enthusiasm that has dimished or disappeared for reasons that are not immediately clear.
If you want to know more details, you can find very rich information from Part II of the book. It includes not just a description of the core psychological issue for each behavior pattern, but tools you can use to access yourself in each area, and execrises that you can do to strengthen those weaker psychological "muscles."
Overall, this is a pretty interesting book you may want to put in your own collection.
I picked this up after searching online for a career transition book. The authors, two guys from Harvard, have written a really fantastic guide to managing your career. If you know anyone who has had negative performance review, has problems being a "team player" or if you are a manager that has an employee that everyone in the office perceives as "difficult", do yourself a favor and pick-up a copy of this book.
These guys have practical exercises and explanations for some of the bad behaviors we have at work---procrastinating, falling behind, constant feelings of stress or anxiety. Far from the "touchy feely" approach of many of the self-help schmaltz out there, these guys are from the business world and offer real steps and real solutions to modify the negative behaviors. (eg. you may be a natural worrier and never be worry-free, but you can cultivate new ways to process the worry so that it doesn't interfere with your "getting the job done.")
In my opinion, a must read!