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What got you here won't get you there book by Marshall Goldsmith cover

Leadership Reflection: What Got You Here, Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith

In my quest to become a better person and leader, I came across “What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith. Reading this book has been both humbling and inspiring. It covers behavioral traits that might hurt you and your team. I read it while traveling and implemented the lessons as soon as I returned from a business trip. I can say that it worked. The immediate positive changes I observed in my team’s dynamics and performance were truly remarkable.  We’ve become more productive and open to exploring innovative solutions that not only streamline our workflows but also have a profound impact on how our customers perceive our brand. It has changed my leadership style in a positive way. If you are managing a team, this book is essential for understanding and fixing these issues.

The Dangers of Success

In this book, Goldsmith mentioned about the paradox of success: the very traits and habits that help you succeed can become barriers as you seek to achieve more. Many successful people fail to recognize this and consequently struggle to adapt to new challenges. The first step in the journey toward greater success is acknowledging that change is necessary. This idea resonates with another concept I use in my life: “Kaizen,” the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement. Just like Kaizen encourages us to constantly refine and enhance processes, acknowledging the need for change in our behaviors and habits is the first step toward reaching new heights of success.

Twenty Habits That Hold You Back

Goldsmith tackled 20 habits that hold you back from becoming an effective leader. These habits might seem harmless at first, but they can actually stop you from reaching your full potential, both personally and professionally. From always needing to win, to not listening to others, or even failing to say thank you, these habits can sneak up on you and cause problems without you even realizing it. But the good news is, these habits can be changed.

  • The need to win at all costs and in all situations.
  • The desire to add your two cents to every discussion, often overshadowing others’ contributions.
  • Making quick judgments about others’ ideas or efforts, which can discourage them.
  • Using sarcastic or cutting remarks that can hurt relationships and morale.
  • Starting with “No,” “But,” or “However”: These words often signal disagreement and can shut down open dialogue.
  • Bragging about your intelligence and achievements, which can come off as arrogance.
  • Letting anger dictate your communication, leading to regretful words and actions.
  • Negativity, or “Let Me Explain Why That Won’t Work”: Being pessimistic and dismissive of new ideas.
  • Keeping information to yourself to maintain a power advantage.
  •  Not acknowledging others’ contributions, leading to demotivation.
  • Claiming Credit That We Don’t Deserve: Taking credit for others’ work or ideas.
  •  Rationalizing your failures or shortcomings instead of taking responsibility.
  • Holding on to past successes or failures and letting them influence current decisions.
  • Showing preferential treatment to certain team members, which can create resentment.
  • Failing to apologize for mistakes or wrongdoings.
  • Failing to fully engage in listening to others, missing out on important insights.
  • Not showing appreciation for others’ efforts and support.
  • Reacting negatively to those who bring bad news or constructive criticism.
  • Shifting blame to others instead of accepting responsibility.
  •  Stubbornly holding on to your personality traits or behaviors, even when they are counterproductive

Practical Concepts Throughout the Book: Implementing Feedback, Apologizing, Follow-Up, and Recognition

FEEDFORWARD: Feedback is crucial for personal growth, but feedforward focuses on future improvements rather than dwelling on past mistakes. It involves seeking suggestions for future behavior, which can be more positive and actionable than traditional feedback. 


IMPORTANCE OF APOLOGIZING: Another key aspect highlighted by Goldsmith is the importance of apologizing. He emphasizes that a sincere apology can be one of the most powerful tools for changing behavior. By apologizing for past actions that may have hurt or alienated colleagues, individuals can mend relationships and foster more effective teamwork. A genuine apology involves accepting responsibility without making excuses or shifting blame, laying the foundation for trust and collaboration.


CONSISTENT FOLLOW-UP: Consistent follow-up is essential for ensuring that behavior changes are sustained. Goldsmith advocates for a structured follow-up process where leaders regularly check in on their progress and seek feedback. This continuous evaluation and adjustment help embed new behaviors into daily practice, ensuring long-term success. Additionally, creating a culture of recognition and reward is crucial for building a positive work environment. By acknowledging and celebrating others’ successes and contributions, leaders can boost morale and cultivate a culture of mutual respect and collaboration within their teams.


STAY COMMITTED TO CHANGE: Change is a continuous process, and it requires ongoing commitment. Regularly review your goals and progress, celebrate small victories, and remain open to new feedback. This persistent dedication to personal growth will help ensure that new behaviors become ingrained habits.


This book really gets into the nitty-gritty of behavior and how it affects us psychologically. Even though I had a bit of an idea about this stuff before reading, Goldsmith really drives home how important it is. I've become much more aware of these behaviors and how they impact both my business dealings and personal relationships. This book can be insightful to those who are striving to refine their interactions, communication, and leadership style, prioritizing influence through respect rather than fear. If you want to step up your game in these areas, check out this bookI

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