Maximum Success: Changing the 12 Behavior Patterns That Keep You from Getting Aheadby James Waldroop, Paul Michael (Read by), Timothy Butler
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Have you ever wondered why some people seem to rise effortlessly to the top, while others are stuck in the same job year after year? Do you ever feel you are falling short of your career potential? Have you ever wondered if some things you do—or don’t do—at work might be hamstringing your ambitions? In Maximum Success, James Waldroop and Timothy Butler, directors of career development at Harvard Business School, identify the twelve habits that over and over again—whether you are a retail clerk or a partner in a law firm—are almost guaranteed to hold you back.
Although Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has become a self-help classic, the fact is most people learn their greatest lessons not from their successes, but from their mistakes. Maximum Success offers the flip side to Covey’s approach, zeroing in on the most common behavior patterns that can impede a career. The authors claim, based on over twenty years of research as business psychologists, that the reasons people fail in their jobs are the same everywhere. Once these detrimental behaviors are identified, the patterns that limit career advancement can be broken.
Using real-life accounts of clients they have worked with at Harvard and as executive coaches for such companies as GTE, Sony, GE, and McKinsey & Co., authors Waldroop and Butler describe the habits that have derailed even the most successful people. More important, they offer invaluable—and in some cases, job saving—advice on how readers can modify their behavior to get back on track.
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Read an Excerpt
Never Feeling Good Enough
IN A WORLD OVERPOPULATED WITH OUTSIZE EGOS, PAUL seemed to be an anomaly. He had an ego that was too small for his considerable abilities and his position. A big international bank in New York had hired him away from a smaller bank in Texas for a high-profile job taking charge of a group of loan officers who, after some heady early successes, had involved the bank in several dangerous arrangements in Latin America. When the Mexican peso collapsed, the bank had taken a financial bath, suffering tens of millions of dollars in losses. Paul's assignment was to rein in the lending group, to ensure that the necessary "due diligence" had been done on major loans before any further commitments were made.
Paul, who was in his early forties at the time, clearly had both the intellect and the experience to handle the job. Although he had never been a manager, he had considerable know-how as a banker, and Latin America was his specialty. Moreover, Paul had succeeded at everything he had ever done. He had been a top student in both college and graduate business school, and he was promoted quickly through the bank he joined in Dallas after getting his MBA at the University of Texas.
But in his new position Paul was suddenly a misfit--or so it appeared, and so he felt. He was self-conscious and awkward, unable to speak with authority, and unable to command the respect that he needed to excel. He felt like a little fish tossed into a very big pond, a small-town kid from fly-over country way out of place among East Coast elites. Sure, he had been at the top of his class in school, but in schools without prestigious names. Now he had to take charge of a herd ofheadstrong and arrogant deal makers with degrees from Harvard, Columbia, and Wharton.
The coterie of loan officers who had been operating on their own before Paul arrived understandably were not delighted to welcome an outsider charged with keeping them under control. Still, if Paul had presented himself as a confident manager, he might have been able to defuse their resentment quickly enough and establish himself as their skillful leader.
But he never demonstrated that confidence and as a result never took command in the fullest sense. He had a look of intensity and concern that sometimes seemed to approach panic. He worked long hours, much too long--and work that he should have been delegating, he took upon himself. His superior, who had hired him, was afraid that Paul was going to burn out. In the eyes of the lenders Paul supervised, he was respected as a hard worker and a technical specialist, but not really admired and certainly not looked up to as a commander.
Troops want a leader who exudes self-assurance. In a battle at sea, sailors want to look up at the bridge and see "the old man" calmly overseeing the battle--not struggling nervously into his life jacket! But everything about Paul said worry. He had no stature in the lending group; people avoided him.
But at his new job, instead of strolling through offices in comfortable command Paul scurried down the halls with an intense, inner--directed gaze on his face that signaled to everyone that he was in trouble. His body language broadcast concern, discomfort, and isolation. When he stopped to talk to people he was all business, almost curt. There was never any small talk.
Paul was telling people, without knowing or intending to, that he couldn't get away from them fast enough. It was as though if he lingered too long, people would see through him and would recognize that he didn't belong, would know that he was in over his head--and the fact was, he did feel in over his head. Instead of looking upward and contemplating whether he might be CEO someday, or at least head of all of International, he was frightened that he had already risen too high. He wondered whether he didn't really belong a peg or two below where he was.
Those in the department followed his instructions when necessary, but they didn't seek out his advice. Nobody invited him to lunch. Meetings were held without Paul being aware of them. One of his colleagues said of Paul, "He's a hard worker . . . and it shows." Another said, "He's very smart, and everybody respects him--but no one wants to be him." When Paul stepped outside himself and took a close look, he didn't want to be himself, either! That was the point at which he came to us.
What People are Saying About This
(John Patterson, VP for Talent, Priceline.com)
(Eileen Grabowski, VP Firmwide Recruiting, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter)
(Kirsten Moss, Managing Director, MBA Admissions, Harvard Business School)
Meet the Author
James Waldroop, Ph.D. and Timothy Butler, Ph.D. are directors of career development at the Harvard Business School and the developers of the Internet-based interactive career assessment program, CareerLeader, currently used by more than ninety-five corporations and MBA programs worldwide. They are the authors of Discovering Your Career in Business as well as articles that have appeared in the Harvard Business Review and Fortune. They live in the Boston metropolitan area.
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