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Marshall Goldsmith blog - Beliefs that Hold Back Change

Beliefs that Hold Back Change

01 Nov 2019

Changing behavior for the better can be a challenge, especially for very successful leaders. In fact, the same beliefs that helped them get where they are at the moment could inhibit them from moving forward and becoming even better. You can learn about this more in-depth in Marshall Goldsmith’s best-selling book, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” Today, we’ll outline some popular beliefs that hold leaders back from greater success.

 

Beliefs that Hold You Back

Successful executives, like everyone else, are prone to remind themselves of their own contributions, achievements, and status. After all, they worked hard to get where they are – being proud of one’s accomplishments is a healthy way to celebrate success. However, there are times when some leaders overestimate their input to a project and exaggerate their impact.  Or, they might have an elevated opinion of their standing among peers and their professional skills. It is only human to think this way. 

These beliefs play an inherent role in boosting confidence and help executives predict a great future for themselves. However, the role these beliefs play can make it difficult for leaders to change, even when they are hindering further success. This is why many executives show a version of the following responses when confronted with the suggestion for change:

  • They believe that the other party who is pointing out their flaws must be confused and misinformed. 
  • They might accept that the other party is right and their perception of the shortcomings is correct. However, those can’t be that important since they wouldn’t be this successful otherwise. 
  • They may discredit the other party and call their motives into question.

These might be the initial responses of leaders when they are faced with what they don’t want to hear. But often what’s uncomfortable to listen to is exactly what they need to discover the most. You, as an executive coach, can help leaders realize this fallacy and overcome it. How? We have some suggestions for you.

 

3 Ways to Improve as a Leader

  • Invite key stakeholders, such as peers and managers, to provide suggestions for change. This will ensure the validity of the feedback and create greater buy-in from your client. 
  • Prompt your client’s stakeholders to provide the leader with suggestions of behavioral changes for the future (feedforward), instead of recalling mistakes made in the past (feedback). 
  • Create the context for coaching to be about achieving greater success, instead of facing failure and judgment. You are there to support the positioning of the leader so that they can win more for their organization. 

Your coaching will support executives in balancing the confidence that got them where they are with the humility required to get them where they have the potential to go. Read our post, “4 Signs of a Challenging Leader” to learn more about the top qualities of coachable leaders and more behaviors to look out for to mitigate any challenges. 

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