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10 Character Flaws That Can Derail Even Good People | Jan 09, 2013

Good people can become great, but usually they don’t. Part of the problem is good people are often unaware of how close they are to becoming great. What do I mean? The termination of only a few traits/habits/preferences is often enough to move someone much closer to “greatness”. This can mean greatness overall or in terms of some specific sport or skill.

Want proof? Think about three professional colleagues you know very well, and with each person imagine they no longer exhibited three traits that you know people around them commonly agree are their most annoying personality “thorns”. Then, imagine those three people no longer had their three “personality thorns”. How much closer would those three be to being great instead of just being good or average? I am betting dramatically closer. Remember, sports psychologists often help athletes change only 1 or 2 thought or behavior patterns, and that brings greatness. Small changes can bring about career changing results. I see it everyday.

Chew on this: A very small percentage of a person’s psychological makeup (say, 2% of their total set of personal traits/preferences/habits) can undermine the other 98% of their makeup that is healthy and positive. A trainload of healthy habits can be derailed by a few bad habits. Think about it: How many times have you said to yourself, “I really like X except they are so…” and ended your statement by naming one trait/habit/preference only? That ONE trait was a blockade to you forming a deeper, more trusting, longer term relationships with them. or kept you from creating a business relationship with them. That ONE trait is also likely what I call a “derailer” – a major reason they are not promoted, are not a better parents, friends, etc. etc. Look in the mirror.

Behavioral science has become a highly advanced field creating a deep and broad toolbox usable by anyone. These tools are cost effective, scalable, and precise. But do you recognize the value of insightfully managing your thorns? If not, you are likely derailed and you do not even know it. Studies have shown that even supposedly mature organizational leaders often fail to lead because they have personality thorns that they defensively protect, leading to truly catastrophic consequences.

Personality derailers are not simply annoying traits, but often kill your ability to grow, relate, or at work be promoted or lead a team.

Good news. We behavioral science experts are learning which personality thorns are particularly likely to derail someone. Advanced behavioral science assessment tools are providing 360 degree x-rays into workplace personality and leadership or managerial character. The following are 10 workplace derailers that seem to not just irritate others, but stifle the personal and professional maturity process. Whatever age or role in life you are serving, take heed:

You are not truly happy for others success, and you work too hard to “keep up” with others on a material level.

Defensiveness toward being corrected or criticized. Generally hypersensitive people don’t mature, they just grow old.

If you come off as cold/distant, you will not be trusted or influential.

Overly emotional people are attention hogs, and focus on themselves, not on the reality around them.

Eccentrics are funny in the moment, but when building a team may lack the ability tone down their eccentricity to build rapport. Deeper relationships are absent.

You believe you deserve everything you want. A rampant epidemic attitude in our society.

The “roller coaster” Character
You are unpredictable, and not trusted or confided in.

Overly Eager to Please
You are more of a pleaser than an honest communicator. But your displeasure with things builds up and explodes at times.

Morally Scrupulous
You find fault with even small misbehavior. No one meets every one of your rules. Your best friend is idealized self because you find fault with everyone but yourself.

The Destructive Sense of Humor
Needless sarcasm and cutting remarks erode any rapport you may have built up. Your relationships never “run deeper”.

This is not a complete list, and if you want to know what your derailers are, you can undergo a 360 degree evaluation with Performance Edge Solutions which comprehensively yet concisely assesses your workplace personality.

For more information you may want to check out the following credible books, which are applicable to business clients who wants to take their performance to the next level: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, by Marshall Goldsmith (New York Times Bestseller) & Why CEO’s Fail, By David Dotlich & Peter Cairo

Please feel free to forward this blog to anyone who might benefit!

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If you or your organization are faced with a workplace growth challenge, email Tom and he will consider writing a blog about it.

Meet the Expert: Dr. Tom Brunner is a capable executive level consultant who has worked with local and nationally known organizations including Carondelet Healthcare, Tucson Electric Power, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Discovery Channel. Tom is a published behavioral science expert and is the Founder and Principal of Performance Edge Solutions. He is a licensed psychologist and a member of the Society of Consulting Psychologists. He has been an invited speaker at national conferences and local organizations such as University Medical Center, Tucson, AZ. Tom is humbled by the fact that in 2010 he was awarded the Arizona Psychological Foundations Early Career Psychologist Award. He is the senior author of a personality tool that has been adapted into seven languages. To see a 60-second video introducing his consulting firm click here, to read his bio click here, and to review his recent blogs, click here.