The 20 Bad Habits template will help you identify common negative behaviors that leaders can consciously and subconsciously exhibit, determine how many of these you’re guilty of doing, and begin making positive changes. This template was created by the world-renowned leadership expert and coach, Dr. Marshall Goldsmith.
The 20 Bad Habits of Interpersonal Behavior are a group of common behaviors exhibited by leaders (both consciously and subconsciously) that can have negative effects on not only your own personal development but your entire organization. These 20 Bad Habits are all typical behavioral traits that I’ve seen exhibited by some of the most successful leaders in the world.
The 20 Bad Habits are as follows:
Winning too much: The need to win at all costs and in all situations.
Adding too much value: The overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion.
Passing judgment: The need to rate others and impose our standards on them.
Making destructive comments: The needless sarcasm and cutting remarks that we think make us witty.
Starting with “No,” “But,” or “However”: The overuse of these negative qualifiers which secretly say to everyone “I’m right and you’re wrong.”
Telling the world how smart we are: The need to show people we’re smarter than they think we are.
Speaking when angry: Using emotional volatility as a management tool.
Negativity, or saying “Let me explain why that won’t work”: The need to share our negative thoughts even when we weren’t asked.
Withholding information: The refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others.
Failing to give proper recognition: The inability to give praise and reward to others.
Claiming credit that we don’t deserve: This is the most annoying way to overestimate our contributions to any success.
Making excuses: The need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it.
Clinging to the past: The need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto events and people from our past; a subset of blaming everyone else.
Playing favorites: Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly.
Refusing to express regret: The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we’re wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.
Not listening: This is the most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues.
Failing to express gratitude: This is the most basic form of bad manners.
Punishing the messenger: The misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually only trying to help us.
Passing the buck: The need to blame everyone but ourselves.
An excessive need to be “me”: Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they’re who we are.
I decided to research these bad habits after spending 10 years as a Board Member of the Peter Drucker Foundation. During this time, Peter himself taught me some great lessons about life and leadership, with one of the most important lessons being this: “We spend a lot of time helping leaders learn what to do. We do not spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop. Half of the leaders I have met don’t need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop.”
There are plenty of good reasons for this. However, the most prominent might be that when we do something positive relating to our work, this is likely to be recognized and rewarded. On the other side of the coin, we rarely receive praise for eliminating a bad habit and this can easily go unnoticed – despite the great impact this can have on an entire organization.
Every leader can fall into the trap of developing these bad habits. Knowing exactly what these are and being able to identify whether you exhibit these behavioral traits yourself will enable you to make positive changes, so you can become a better leader. A number of these bad habits (such as ‘winning too much’ and ‘adding too much value’) can cloud your opinions and lead you to make decisions that aren’t necessarily the right ones for your business out of stubbornness. Others (such as ‘passing judgment’, ‘playing favorites’, ‘not listening’, and ‘failing to express gratitude’) can make you difficult to work with and affect morale in your team – making talented and valuable employees more likely to jump ship prematurely.
Addressing these behaviors before they have a chance to become a bigger problem won’t just be beneficial for the success of your business; it will also ensure that you’re not limiting your own potential. Everyone has the ability to grow and improve, and we need to embrace positive change in order to develop.
It’s also important to remember that if you are guilty of showing any of these behaviors in your workplace, it’s likely that you’re also making an appearance in your personal life too. By nipping these bad habits in the bud, you won’t just become a better leader – but a better friend, parent, or partner too.
My 20 Bad Habits template (which can be accessed in Ayoa) can help you to identify whether you’re guilty of any of these behaviors, how often you’re exhibiting them, and what you can do to eliminate them. Discover how to use my template below.
To access the template, sign up to Ayoa. Once you've signed up, navigate to the homepage to create a new whiteboard, mind map or task board and choose this template from the library.
The 20 Bad Habits of Interpersonal Behavior are outlined in the format of a colorful mind map that you can easily edit and add your own contributions. To begin, go through the behaviors one-by-one, identify any that you’re guilty of doing often, and change the color of these to red. To do this, click on the box you want to change the color of, then click on the blue paintbrush icon in the menu that appears above it. In the side panel, click the box next to ‘Box color’, then select the red color from the options.
Now, do the same with the behaviors you occasionally exhibit but change the color of these boxes to yellow. Then go through your mind map a third time and turn the boxes of the habits you never exhibit to green.
For any behaviors you have changed to red and yellow, list examples of how you exhibit them as new sub-branches. To add a new sub-branch from a behavior, hover over the box (or ‘branch’) that contains the behavior and click the green arrow next to it. You can then type your answer in the box that appears. Do this for as many times as you need to ensure that all the examples you give are in separate boxes.
For each example, add a connected sub-branch that explains what you should do instead of exhibiting that behavior or how you can fix it. For example, if you have identified that you didn’t say thank you to your team for completing an important project to a high standard, you could provide them with a reward for their hard work, such as paying for them to go out for dinner. To add a new branch, again, just hover over the box you want to connect it to and click on the green arrow that appears.
Tip: If you can’t think of specific examples for each habit but know that you need to address them, connect the branches that contain your suggestions of what you can do instead directly to the box that explains what the habit is.
It’s time to put these changes into action! Refer back to your mind map periodically to make sure you’re continuously improving and not slipping back into old habits.