Leadership

Former GE Exec: These 6 common bad habits can 'doom' your career

Vishal Agarwal, author of the book "Give to Get"
Vishal Agarwal, author of the book "Give to Get"

Navigating the corporate world can be tricky at times. You may face intense scrutiny, skepticism and aggressive competition.

And as you work your way up to the executive suite, keeping up with the corporate grind can lead you to form bad habits. Vishal Agarwal, author of the book "Give to Get: A Senior Leader's Guide to Navigating Corporate Life," says those habits can ultimately hurt your career.

Agarwal worked his way up from intern to a senior deals partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and is the former managing director of development and investments at GE. As someone who has both climbed his way up to leadership positions and witnessed those under him do the same, Agarwal says aspiring leaders must avoid these six common habits that can "doom" your career:

1. Playing the boss card

One phrase that should never come out of your mouth is, "I am the boss," says Agarwal.

He sees many young professionals fall prey to playing this card. They demand that people do things simply because the boss requires it, or act abrasive and standoffish to show that they're in a senior position.

"Demonstrating that you're the boss is a big mistake to avoid," says Agarwal. "Today's leaders should practice servant leadership."

Serving your team and being amicable and approachable will help you get ahead in your career much faster.

2. Thinking you know everything

People who reject any outside input are at risk of harming their careers, says Agarwal, because they fail to surround themselves with smart people who could help them get ahead.

Agarwal advises that you listen carefully to suggestions and allow those under you to take ownership of projects. "If they don't have ownership, they won't give it 100 percent," he explains.

Even if a project fails, the employee can still learn from their mistakes and consult with you on how do better the next time.

3. Choosing favorites

It's human nature to want to support those who have your back, but you shouldn't have obvious favorites, says Agarwal.

When you favor certain people and shun others, it creates a wall of opposition. This makes it difficult to leverage everyone's strengths in helping you achieve your team's goals, says Agarwal, which is critical if you want to move up the corporate ladder.

"Your actions must line up with your words." -Vishal Agarwal, Author

4. Engaging in conflict

No one likes a "bulldozer," says Agarwal. These types of people bully and mistreat others, steamroll ideas and are always engaged in conflict.

The higher you move in your career, the more you'll damage your reputation by having a bulldozer personality. People expect increased professionalism as you move up in rank, he says, so having a confrontational personality can be "career suicide."

5. Working in silos

People often make the mistake of focusing on their own "swim lane" at work, says Agarwal. They're so focused on their own role or on their own team that they isolate themselves from others.

But to move up the ladder, you must be able to work across teams and gain the support of others, says the former exec. That means reaching out and building relationships with individuals outside of your immediate network.

6. Talking out of both sides of your mouth

You create doubt and mistrust when you say one thing and do another, says the former exec.

He uses Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a prime example. Zuckerberg repeatedly stated that Facebook takes the privacy of its users seriously, says Agarwal. But as reports of data breaches continued, the public could see a discrepancy between what the CEO was saying and what Facebook was doing, which ultimately led to mistrust among users.

"Your actions must line up with your words," Agarwal says. "Leaders do need to talk the talk and walk the walk."

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