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  • Writer's pictureJoel Adams

Bad Habits of Leaders; #20, The Trump Card of Bad Behaviors

In my work with CEOs and other executives, I encounter many different behaviors that are holding back the leader and holding back their organizations. While most of us humans are very perceptive when it comes to identifying the flaws of others, we are usually not so good in recognizing our own behavior or the negative consequences of that behavior. And our bad habits become the roadblocks in our interactions with others.

Let’s talk about this bad habit; An excessive need to be “me”. This is when we defend our faults as really virtues or because “that is just the way I am”. We can think of An excessive need to be “me” as a “second level” bad habit because it defends not changing some other bad habit. This is like the trump card of bad behaviors because it provides the excuse for not correcting any other bad habit.

Can you hear yourself saying something like, “I know I interrupt people while they are talking but that’s what we do in our family. That is the way I was raised” Or, “Of course I make quick decisions, that is why I am successful.” I met a manager many years back who, within the first minute of our conversation stated, “I know I am an A-hole. I have always been an A-hole and if somebody doesn’t like it, I don’t really care.” Now there was a guy who was proud of his bad habits!

When I hear “that’s just the way I am” I think of my many acquaintances years ago who said, “I know smoking is bad for me but I really enjoy it”. They recognized they had a bad habit but they were not ready to change. Or they did not know how. We all have bad habits. I have as many as you. And changing really is hard.

The good news about this bad habit is: if you have it, you probably can remember hearing yourself saying it. So what did you say it about? “Yes, I ____________, but I have always done that. It is just what I do! That is Me. That is the way I am”. Be especially attuned to this habit you are defending. You may believe it is really an asset. But, “what got you here” really “won’t get you there”. The fact that you need to defend your own behavior is a huge clue that it is probably a habit that needs to be modified.

Maybe your ability to dominate any conversation helped you get your first manager job. Or maybe you enjoy putting others down. Whatever it is you are busy defending, is probably not a good habit now that you are a CEO.

You may not realize how much your bad habits are holding back your organization, and having an excessive need to be me will not lead you to change them.

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