Virtues That Sabotage

By Ann
April 2, 2013

Most of us would argue that excellence, fairness and collaboration are desirable in the work place.  Think again.

In Tipping Sacred Cows—Kick the Bad Work Habits that Masquerade as Virtues (2013) Jake Breeden exposes the dark side of exalted virtues. He explores seven of the most common sacred cows in the work place.

See my list of "ahas" about excellence, fairness and collaboration from Tipping Sacred Cows:

Conserve your energy for the most meaningful actions.

Be willing to ask the dumb questions without worrying about what others think.  Ego be gone!

Provide the space to fail and experiment in pursuit of excellence in the end.

Have the courage to be incompetent initially.  Remember everything has a learning curve.

Sometimes OK is good enough.

Learn to use different styles of leadership that meet the needs of those you lead.  Autonomy to one may be abandonment to another.

Fair decisions are not always smart decisions.  Ten percent budget cuts in every department, for example, is fair but not smart.

Leaders need fine tuned communication skills to explain why they treat people differently.

Sameness and fairness are not equal.  Why spend precious resources to send an under performing employee to develop critical new business at an important trade show?

Players that have a mean streak do not change much. As Maya Angelou says, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

Stay on the high road even when you are tempted to bend the rules to justify unfair treatment.

Smart people easily can rationalize to themselves their unethical decisions. “Not a jury in this country would convict me.” It works against you in the long term.

If leading were easy, everyone would be doing it successfully.  Leading requires courage, self-awareness, listening, flexibility, clarity and tolerance for messiness.  My outcomes improve when I know that my good intentions can sabotage my success. Be alert to virtues that sabotage.

© 2013 Ann Elliott All rights reserved.



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