Improve Your Leadership Effectiveness

In coaching dozens of leaders at various levels over the last few years, I often suggest they identify what to start, stop, and continue doing to be more effective. Often when setting goals, there is a tendency to focus on what we need to start doing or do differently. However, as Marshall Goldsmith points out in his book, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There,” it can often be simpler (and more impactful!) to focus on stopping a behavior or habit that annoys people or is holding you back. For example, if you have a habit of interrupting people, focus on not interrupting them as opposed to trying to start one or more new behaviors to be a better listener. “How Women Rise” by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith contains additional behaviors that might be helpful to target along these lines. Here is a list of examples to consider:


  • Stop checking your phone during a conversation
  • Stop apologizing (when it is not your fault)
  • Stop saying, “Yes, but”
  • Stop making excuses
  • Stop blaming other people
  • Stop defending yourself when someone gives you feedback
  • Stop talking when experiencing a strong emotion (e.g., when feeling very angry, anxious, resentful, frustrated, afraid)
  • Stop making mean or sarcastic comments
  • Stop gossiping
  • Stop shooting the messenger
  • Stop trying to be perfect
  • Stop saying or doing things solely to please others
  • Stop minimizing your input or requests (e.g., using words like just, quick, only, little)


What is one behavior that you might stop doing in order to make you more effective as a leader, coworker, family member, or friend? If you have several in mind, which one is the easiest for you to change and will have the biggest impact?