SMALL CHANGE: your D liability


an ebook


Ciarán Fenton

How small changes in your behaviour have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow

That’s the title of an ebook I wrote in early 2020, initially, as a series of 50 short blogs – index here – and as a framework for a longer book.


Section 1 YOU

Section 1.4 Your Soft Balance Sheet/D Liability

Your Soft Balance sheet consists of soft, that is intangible, assets A, B, & C and liabilities D, E, & F.

In constructing your soft balance sheet start by addressing your D Liability, which is your outstanding behavioural weakness at work as might be expressed as a consensus by colleagues.

The reason you should start with your D Liability, and why I do so with all new clients, is because personal and organisational fulfilment comes from small changes in our worst behaviour as perceived by others.

If we confront “our D” and make small changes to it then we can work, lead or follow in a much more fulfilling, rewarding and, from the point of view of the organisation, more productive manner.

We all have one outstanding behavioural weakness at work, although my wife maintains that I have more than one. I’ve given up arguing with her that that is grammatically impossible. You can only have one outstanding anything, I say. She rolls her eyes.

Do you know what your outstanding behavioural weakness at work is? If not, why not? If yes, are you sure it accurately reflects the consensus of your colleagues? Or are you kidding yourself?

Many people don’t know what they don’t know about themselves. My Dad, when he was alive, would have called this “compound ignorance”.

Over the years, I have encountered all the “Ds” based on self-assessments and the views of third parties.

I telephone at least three referees on each client and ask them for feedback. Usually, they all agree on my client’s D Liability and with uncanny similarity in wording.

Typical self-assessments and third party corrections include:

  • “I don’t suffer fools…” [He/she can bully]
  • “I have very high standards” [He/she is a micro-manager]
  • “I can be very focused” [He/she never listens]

Here are a selection of D Liability summaries:

  • “Eager to please” – at their own and everyone’s cost
  • “Too soft” – struggles to take “hard” decisions
  • “Driven” – perfectionists for varying reasons
  • “Indecisive” – analysis paralysis, dither, slow but sure etc.
  • “Micro-manager” – zero trust
  • “Never listens” – often highly narcissistic
  • “Emotionally distant” – hidden hurt
  • “Bully” – very common in business and rarely self diagnosed

Almost all, but not all, have one common fear: failure in the eyes of others.

Shame, shaming and and fear of shame dominates business life.

It’s an ever-present curse.

Its origin is in formative years but it is remedial.

Ciaran Fenton

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