Almost a decade ago, Sydney Finkelstein, a professor of business at Dartmouth College, published a well-known piece about why smart executives fail. He identified the seven habits of spectacularly unsuccessful executives.
We always are listing the positive steps that Proposal Managers should take to succeed. Now let us turn these kinds of lists inside out and discuss what five bad habits lead to failure, with a nod to Dr. Finkelstein and my own observations and experience in the field.
Bad Habit #1: They identify so completely with their work that there is no clear boundary between their personal lives and their jobs.
Of course we want Proposal Managers who are deeply committed to their companies, but we do not need them to treat their employers as extensions of themselves. Despite the relentless demands of proposal development, Proposal Managers need to carve out personal time for themselves and their families to remain fresh and effective.
Bad Habit #2: They think they have all the answers.
We admire leaders who make dozens of quick decisions each day. But Proposal Managers who address serious problems rapidly often do not consider other points of view except their own. Despite the relentless demand to make fast decisions, Proposal Managers need to frequently consult with others. This takes time and going outside yourself.
Bad Habit #3: They ignore people who disagree with them.
As William Blake said, without contraries there is no progression. If a Proposal Manager cannot learn to consider the perspectives and advice of others, he or she is likely to create a very stifling atmosphere and unproductive work environment.
Bad Habit #4: They underestimate obstacles.
Proposal Managers, like everyone else, often underestimate the obstacles in front of them. A more successful approach might involve re-evaluating a course of action or a decision. Proposal Managers should create an environment where expectations are realistic and where actions can be modified or reversed.
Bad Habit #5: They stubbornly refer to and rely on what worked in the past.
Proposal Managers sometimes are the victims of past successes. No business model is static. Good Proposal Managers have a dynamic view of the work environment and are ready to consider a range of options that fit the new circumstances.
Proposal Managers and their colleagues should take these five bad habits as early warning signs of impending failure. If you exhibit any of these traits, now would be a good time to start eliminating them from your management skills.