Success isn't always about dominating the landscape. Sometimes, to be successful, you have to be prepared to give up some counterproductive behaviors that are holding you back — behaviors you may not even be aware you possess.
Old habits are hard to break. And if you don't realize that you are practicing some of these behaviors, you may not see a problem. But if others perceive you as a difficult co-worker, it's time to take another look at what you are doing.
Be brutally honest with yourself or ask a trusted associate, and see if any of these traits describe you. If the answer is yes, an attitude adjustment may be in order.
The need to be right. Concentrate on getting results, not on proving your own intelligence and accuracy. Be open about your mistakes. Don't worry about who gets the credit for victory. Help others succeed, and you'll share in the glory.
Speaking first. You don't have to dominate every meeting and conversation. Ask for others' ideas and opinions. Give them the opportunity to share their thoughts, and they'll become more comfortable communicating with you.
Making every decision. Ask others what they would do, and be willing to accept that there may be more than one way to accomplish a task.
Control. You can't stay on top of every task and decision. Identify what you really need to handle, and delegate responsibility for tasks that others can do just as well.
Inflexibility. If you find yourself balking at new ideas, or resisting change with "but we've always done it this way," it's time for a change. Different situations demand different solutions.
Disloyalty. Bad-mouthing your company, co-workers, products or services never improves any situation. Disagreement is not disloyalty. It's natural to have differences of opinion. Criticism must be constructive, not destructive.
Dishonesty. Just tell the truth. If you prefer not to answer a question, say so, but don't lie or evade questions. Trust is the most important word in business, in my opinion.
Tunnel vision. Projects that require cooperation among departments should not provoke competition but teamwork. If each department sees its contribution as the most important rather than focusing on the big picture, the big picture will be way out of focus.
No sense of humor. It's important to take your work seriously, but that doesn't mean you can't have fun at work. As long as the language is appropriate, i.e., not offensive, demeaning or vulgar, a dose of humor can bring people together and make situations more comfortable.
Poor listening skills. There is a difference between hearing and listening. Pay attention to what's being said, and ask questions if you are unclear about the message. Avoid interrupting, evading eye contact, rushing the speaker and letting your attention wander.
Disorganization. A messy workspace does not demonstrate how busy you are. Clutter gets in the way of clear thinking. If you can't find what you need the moment you need it, you need to get organized.
Lack of accountability. Blaming mistakes or poor results on others, refusing to take responsibility for obvious errors, making excuses instead of finding solutions — it can't always be someone else's fault.
Poor time management. First things first. Setting priorities and meeting deadlines is fundamental to the success of an organization. If one of the key players operates on a different schedule, the whole project suffers. Wasting time is wasting money.
Impulsiveness. Learn to think before you speak or act. You can't unsay words, and apologies often ring hollow. Count to 10, count to 100, count to whatever it takes to prevent rash and regrettable actions.
Vulgarity. Watch your language. Even as more and more four-letter words creep into everyday use, they have no place in a respectable business.
Mackay's Moral: Clean up your act, or be prepared to clean out your desk.
Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.