Winning Too Much!

As so much of our current work is focused on helping senior leaders be the best leaders they can possibly be, this recent blog by Marshall Goldsmith (mentor/coach to some of the world’s top executives) is most highly relevant to many of our current ongoing discussions…enjoy the read!


iTS Leadership team

510UvKxV80L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_From Marshall: If you’ve read my best-selling book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, you know that most of us are successful in spite of certain behaviors. For instance, most highly successful people have the bad habit of Winning Too Much.

Winning too much is the #1 challenge for most people, because it underlies nearly every other behavioral problem. If we argue too much, it’s because we want our view to prevail (in other words we want to win). If we put other people down, it’s our way to position them beneath us (again, winning). If we withhold information, it’s to gain an edge over others. If we play favorites, it’s to gain allies so “our side” has an advantage. Our obsession with winning crosses the spectrum of our lives. It’s not just an issue in our professional lives, it works its way into our personal lives as well. It is incredibly difficult for smart, successful people not to constantly win.

Another classic behavioral challenge of smart, successful people is Adding Too Much Value. This bad habit can be defined as the overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion. A slight variation on Winning Too Much, Adding Too Much Value is common among leaders who are used to running the show. It is extremely difficult for successful people to listen to other people tell them something that they already know without communicating somehow that (a) they already knew it and (b) they know a better way.

These are just a couple of the behaviors that the most successful leaders I know work on to become even better. A lot of leaders choose to forego change, believing that they are “successful enough” and that change therefore isn’t necessary.

What makes the most highly successful leaders different is what makes them some of the greatest leaders in history. I believe there are three characteristics that differentiate good leaders from great leaders.

  • The first thing successful people do is have Courage. Great leaders have the courage to get feedback and to look at themselves in the mirror, honestly. This isn’t an easy task. To truly look at yourself and to ask for, accept, and act on feedback you receive from others, you have to have courage.
  • The second thing successful people do is have Humility. If you’re going to get better, then that means you probably don’t think you’re perfect. This is a great place to start. Think about it. It is very hard for perfect people to get better! For someone to change, he or she first has to have the humility to admit there is room for improvement.
  • The third and final thing that great leaders do is they have Discipline. To be a great leader, you have to have the discipline to follow up and do the hard work to keep getting better.

chess-1483735_1920There you have it: the three must-have characteristics of very great leaders: Courage, Humility, and Discipline. Are you a great leader? Do you know a great leader? How would you describe a great leader? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Life Above The Clouds!


Recently I had the great fortune to take my three teenage boys away on a short skiing trip.  There were several surprises and many great lessons whilst we were away, not least of which was how important Quality Time together with loved ones and those we need to work with closely is.

There is simply no replacement for face to face contact and time to relax and chat and have fun together!  All of this is so backed up by much evidence now from the expanding arena of neuroscience, but I won’t go into that here!  Nor will I go into the fact at just how much better my Benji and Dominickids are than me now, the slow coach struggling to keep up….a sign of the times I suspect!

What did strike me the most though was the beautiful scenery and clear blue skies and bright sunshine, the crispness and cleanliness of the air and the purity of the white snow coating the ground.  Even more special was as I looked into the distance and saw clouds covering the lower regions and valleys below.  I felt invigorated, excited and privileged to have the clarity before me together with some compassion for those in the valley below who were living in darker times. I had a longing for them to see what we could see; I felt it so stunning that everyone should have a chance to experience it.

On my return home I couldn’t help but see the similarity between the actual clouds in the sky and thoughts in our heads.  When we are busy doing our day to day, we so often have very busy minds.  Such “busy-ness” creates a snow globe effect in our heads as the thoughts build and build and speed up, creating noise and interference such that we literally cannot see the opportunities right in front of us nor hear others speaking (Listening Rule #1 = thinking and listening are mutually exclusive: we cannot think and listen at the same time).  We are like the people living in the valley with a cloud cover above our heads compromising our vision, clarity and enjoyment of life.

5841660718_6efb9120ae_zLife above the clouds however is beautiful and inspiring and when we take a moment to let our “snow globe” settle, and the thoughts calm down, suddenly we get the clarity and insights as our inner wisdom speaks to us. Some achieve this through meditation and some through mindfulness techniques such as using the Headspace app, there is no right or wrong way, each of us are different.  But to perform at our best, our very best, we need to realise the level of interference we have at any one time and be able to calm it down to float above the “cloud”.

Think about it….when do you get your brilliant ideas?  Most people tell me it’s when they are in the shower or bath, walking or running, driving home or doing something similar when they are not thinking about anything in particular, they are simply calm and content.  These are when the business transforming and life changing ideas appear that we all get from time to time.  How would it be for you if you got more and more of these?  Exciting I bet!  Simply take time to settle your minds throughout the day and watch the results.

Now I’m back home, I look forward to another trip to the mountain tops next ski season.  Yes I will be more achy and even further behind my boys, that’s for sure, but at least I don’t have to wait another 12 months to live in a world above the clouds.  That place we can all find every single day.

~Author: Antony Tinker