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Posts tagged ‘Failure’

That Odor – What Could Cause Me to Lose My Job? Part 2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn my previous post I shared the seven behaviors that cause job failure for people in organizations such as SpringHill. But before we dive into these seven behaviors we need to understand their root cause – arrogance and its disguise – self-righteousness.

Arrogance, by definition, is thinking of oneself more highly than merited, it’s an exaggerated view of one’s self and their contributions to an organization. Arrogance often leads to aggressive, self-centered and ultimately destructive behavior. As a result we know an arrogant person when we meet one. There is just an air about them. And, though we may respect what such a person accomplishes, we rarely like their odor.

Self-righteousness, on the other hand, is arrogance disguised as humility. And because humility is just a ruse, it never truly bottles up the arrogance inside. Yet self-righteous people can be remarkable at managing their behavior and speech to appear humble, leaving us unsure about odor we smell. But in the end managed behavior always has cracks, cracks that leak the person’s arrogance. And arrogance has an odor all its own, making it easy to distinguish from true humility and righteousness’ fragrance.

And what is this odor? It’s the seven behaviors arrogant and self-righteous people to often display and which ultimately leads to their job failure. And it’s these seven behaviors we’ll look at over the next few posts.

Lessons from Falling Short of a Goal

2013-06-01 10.10.41Late last fall I had a physical and found out that my LDL cholesterol was 175, 75 points higher than the top of the acceptable range.

As a result my Doctor recommended I take a LDL lowering drug. Instead I told him I wanted time to see if getting my health back in order would do the trick. So he gave me 6 months to see if I could move the LDL needle down.

So I set a stretch goal of lowering my LDL to 95 before my return visit. Then I created a plan which gave me the best chance to drop my LDL 80 points. Now 6 months later, having executed my plan to the best of my ability, I went back to the Doctor to learn if I achieved my goal.

And, as with many goals, I received both good news and bad news. The good news is I lowered my LDL by 53 points and the Doctor isn’t prescribing any medication. But the bad news is I’m still 27 points from my goal.

So I’m both satisfied and disappointed. Satisfied that my highest goal – taking no drugs has been temporarily avoided, disappointed because I didn’t reach my goal, all of which provides some important lessons about setting and missing  goals:

  1. Because we tend to perform up to but not beyond our goals, setting a stretch goal puts us farther down the road than we’d have gone had our goals been more conservative even if we fall short of our goal.
  2. It’s easy to be unrealistic in setting short –term goals (and to easy to be conservative in setting long-term ones).
  3. Even when we fall short of our goals there’s always residual benefits from good performance (lower weight, better sleeping, etc.).
  4. Just because we don’t achieve our goals by the date set it doesn’t mean they’re unachievable, it just means, if we stay resilient,  it’s only a matter of time before we cross the finish line.

The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful People

smart fail“Defense wins championships” is the often quoted sports proverb about what it takes to win it all. It’s this proverb and its application to my career that motivated me to read Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You Can Learn from Their Mistakesby Sydney Finkelstein. Like Jim Collin’s little book How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, it tells the stories behind the collapse of great companies run by really smart and talented people who, it turns out, focused too much on both personal and organizational offense at the expense of having a championship defense.

And every once in a while it’s good for me to have a little defensive perspective, to be reminded of the attitudes I, as a leader, can have and the actions I can take that could lead SpringHill to “lose the game”. One of the best chapters in the book’s called “Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful People”.

Finkelstein describes these seven habits in this way (as you read each one do as I did and ask yourself “am I displaying any of these habits or tendencies in my leadership?”):

  1. They see themselves and their companies as dominating their environments, not simply responding to developments in those environments.
  2. They identify so completely with the company that there is no clear boundary between their personal interests and corporate interests.
  3. They seem to have all the answers, often dazzling people with the speed and decisiveness with which they can deal with challenging issues.
  4. They make sure that everyone is 100 percent behind them, ruthlessly eliminating anyone who might undermine their efforts.
  5. They are consummate company spokespersons, often devoting the largest portion of their efforts to managing and developing the company image.
  6. They treat intimidatingly difficult obstacles as temporary impediments to be removed or overcome.
  7. They never hesitate to return to strategies and tactics that made them and their companies successful in the first place.
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