What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

what-got-you-here-wont-get-you-there

Time for a quickie book report, kids: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith.  I won’t spend time giving you a full summary (you can read more here), but the book was written for executives who have hit a ceiling in their careers.  Their skills have earned them executive or managerial roles, but interpersonal issues are holding them back from achieving the “next level” of success, whatever that may be.

Here is what I liked about the book:

  • It encourages you to look at your work persona from a different perspective, providing an opportunity for self assessment.  Goldsmith stresses that his method relies heavily on coworker feedback, but I still found value thinking through the different bad habits.  Which ones did I see in myself?  Which ones apply to the managers I’ve had in the past?
  • No excuses!  Goldsmith is very clear that if your coworkers think you have a problem, then you have a problem.  As I read through the habits, I found myself thinking things like, “well, I just do that because…” — which is exactly what Goldsmith says successful people tend to do during this process.  Relying on coworkers to judge your improvement means that you truly improve, no excuses allowed.
  • Goldsmith tells you not to “boil the ocean” (my words).  Successful people often tackle multiple challenges at once in order to successfully complete a project.  Goldsmith makes the case that you can’t address every interpersonal issue at once, as tempting as it may be.  His approach of achieving measurable improvement in just one area seems very reasonable and effective.
  • The two most important words you can say as a manager are “thank you.”  Goldsmith’s examples of when and how to say thank you — often in place of saying something less useful (i.e. adding value, criticizing, shooting the messenger, etc) — really hit home for me.  I can think of so many situations where I would have been better served by simply apologizing or thanking someone, rather than giving my opinion or commenting at all.  Knowing when to keep your mouth shut is a huge part of being an exceptional professional in any field.

Of course, no book is perfect.  Both my husband and I noticed that the author spends a lot of time establishing his expertise/authority, to the point of sounding a little like an over confident executive himself.  Though given who he is trying to reach, I’m willing to forgive him that. If you are willing to give yourself a hard look in the mirror, this is a very helpful resource.

Thoughts?  Any other books in this genre that you’d recommend over this one?

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