Common Leadership Goals and Growth Areas

In the leadership program I lead, one of the coaching options I offer leaders a coaching approach called Stakeholder Centered Coaching, based on the work of Marshall Goldsmith.

Both leaders and executives like it because it brings measurable, visible growth through participants choosing tangible behavioral leadership goals, then asking their colleagues, “How am I doing?” then doing success measurements. Throughout the coaching engagement, the participants do a 360, identify a goal, then on a regular basis over six months or so, ask their stakeholders for both feedback and suggestions on a regular basis, eg, “So Joe, how’d I do in the last 30 days  on my goal of becoming a better listener?” and “What can I do in the coming 30 days to get even better?” Then you measure progress at the end by asking stakeholders to fill out a 3 point scale.

Leaders who succeed in this approach usually have three traits: courage, humility and discipline.

  • Couragous in communicating to others what they’re working on, asking others for feedback and “Feed-Forward” / suggestions, and in taking an honest look at what behaviors they would benefit from stopping, starting or changing.
  • Humble in asking others for help, truly listening, showing appreciation and keeping ego in check.
  • Disciplined in sticking to their monthly routine of following up with those they’ve asked to help them grow, in managing defensive reactions with emotional intelligence, translating stakeholder Feed-Foward to concrete change actions and actually doing them, often with the help of a coach.

Here are some common topics leaders choose to work on. If you are a stakeholder looking at this page, this list is to jog your thinking and give you ideas on feedback and Feed-Forward to give, in response to the leader 360 you are filling out. Thanks for supporting a leader’s growth!

Below I also share typical habits that hold leaders back from progressing to the next place in their career. This is a “juicy” list which is a little embarrassing for me because I’ve been guilty of most of these. But it’s also juicy in the sense that once you see the habits on this list, they become easier to swat out of your way, like a pesky fly. Marshall Goldsmith famously wrote, “What got you here won’t get you there,” and this is certainly true of this “20 Habits” list. In the Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence for Leaders program I run, we talk about vehicles to Leadership EQ, and recognizing even one of these habits can be a powerful vehicle for leadership growth.

Finally you can see typical leadership skills we learn and practice in leadership cohorts. I determine which skills to include based on the needs and interests of the cohorts, since we take an agile “adjust and adapt” approach with relentless delivery and improvement.

High quality leadership matters more than ever in our world today. So thanks for reading this blog, and I hope it was useful to you in some way!


Most Worked On Leadership Behavioral Goals. 1

20 Habits That Hold People Back (aka 20 Common Emotional Intelligence Development Areas). 1

Leadership Cohort Skill List. 2


Most Worked On Behavioral Goals in  Leadership Coaching
(Sample from 8000 people at over 1000 companies on 4 continents)[i]


Treat others with respect

Build trust

Listen to different points of view with an open mind before giving my opinion

Delegate more effectively

Stand up to individuals who undermine teamwork

Deal with performance problems in a timely manner

Develop executive presence

Address conflict in a timely and constructive manner

Collaborate with others

Develop and link team strategy to business strategy

Stand up for what I believe in

Hold others accountable

Present with self-confidence

Focus on the critical few issues

Become more assertive

Take appropriate risks

Build cross functional relationships

Become a better coach and mentor

Match my leadership style to the specific needs of others

Present my point of view persuasively

Become more decisive


20 Habits That Hold People Back

The need to win at all costs and in all situations: When it matters, when it doesn’t, and when it’s totally beside the point.

Adding too much value: The overwhelming desire to add our two cents in every discussion.

Passing judgment: The need to rate others and impose our standards on them.

Making destructive comments: The needless sarcasms and cutting remarks that we think make a sound sharp and witty.

Starting with “No,” “But,” or “However:” The overuse of these negative qualifiers which secretly say to everyone, “I’m right, you’re wrong.”

Telling the world how smart you are: The need to show people we’re smarter than they think we are.

Speaking with anger: Using emotional volatility as a management tool.

Negativity, or “Let me explain why that won’t work”” The need to share our negative thoughts even when we were not asked.

Withholding information: The refusal to share information with others to gain advantage over them.

Failing to give proper recognition: the inability to praise or reward.

Claiming credit we do not deserve: The most annoying way to overestimate our contributions to any success:

Making excuses: The need to reposition our annoying behavior as permanent fixtures so people excuse us for it.

Clinging to the past: The need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto people and events in our past; a subset to blaming everyone else.

Playing favorites: Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly, and failing to see the negative impact that brings to the organization and teams.

Refusing to express regret: The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we’re wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.

Not listening: The most passive – aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues.

Failing to express gratitude: The most basic form of bad manners.

Punishing the messenger: The misguided need to attack the innocent who are only trying to help.

Passing the buck: The need to blame everyone but ourselves; the failure to take responsibility.

An excessive need to be “me:” Exalting our faults as virtues simply “because they are who we are.”

Skills Covered in Leadership Program

Skill Core?
Acknowledgment x
Action / accountability – request it, hold them to it x
Alignment: spotting misalignment, helping people align around a common purpose
Creating High Flourishing Teams through Positivity, Curiosity, Advocacy and “The Losada Ratio”
Decision Making, eg Force Field Analysis
Design the Alliance (w individual or group) x
Difficult Conversations/Conflict Resolution (eg, Team Toxins and Antidotes, Four Horsemen of Hell and ways to enlist them as Allies) x
Dream Behind the Complaint
Emotional intelligence (Self-awareness, Self-regulation, Internal motivation, Empathy, Social Skills) x
Facilitation – Constellations
Generating Forward Momentum / Strategic Work – “Best Hope, Worst Fear”
Giving Feedback (aka “How to give impact feedback and still preserve the relationship”) x
Listening – Intuitive Listening (aka “Level III Listening,” “Environmental Listening,” or “Quantum Listening”) x
Listening (Active Listening / “Level II Listening”) x
Meet them where they are x
Metaphor for powerful communication x
Metaskills (casting a deliberate EF into the room, eg collaboration, fun. Like casting a spell or spraying perfume into a room x
Mindfulness Practices as foundations of both high performance and Emotional Intelligence, eg Google’s Search Inside Yourself course x
Name – It – holding up a mirror to conversation partner that helps them see what they couldn’t before, and start to shift
Negotiation: Interest Based negotiation (where everyone wins) versus Position Based Bargaining (where there’s a winner and a loser)
Powerful Questions – leadership catalyst for opening up new choices and momentum x
Range and Embodiment
Reveal the System to Itself (hold up a mirror to the other person or group – awareness is seed of change) x
Storytelling for Leaders x
Yes and x




[i] Credits to Marshal Goldsmith


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