Do you know what I often tell my coaching clients who feel stuck in their careers? You'll only be able to reach your full potential by breaking the habits that no longer serve you. 

Habits will either move us forward or holds us back. Most of us have a sense of what they may be. Warren Buffett is a bit more forceful when it comes to conquering them. The Oracle of Omaha observed:

"I see people with these self-destructive behavior patterns. They really are entrapped by them."

Buffett gave graduating students at the University of Florida a simple piece of advice: learn and practice good habits early on before it's too late. He added:

"You can get rid of it a lot easier at your age than at my age, because most behaviors are habitual. The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken."

Truth be told, you can get rid of your most self-destructive habits at any age. The first step in any turnaround change process is the boldest: Self-confession. You must admit that you have a problem. You must address your blind spots with new awareness. And you must have a relentless commitment to practicing the new habits.

The 1 Most Common Bad Habit

I have seen many self-destructive habits in smart and well-meaning managers who struggle with the people side of the business--the soft skills area. Some are demoted while others are put on alert and eventually terminated.

The one specific bad habit that comes up again and again and again centers around the need to improve one critical area of business performance: communication.

Sometimes we need to look closely at the things we do to hinder our ability to communicate at a high level. Here are a few examples:

We may assume things about people stemming from the stereotypes we have learned, which can cloud our judgment.

We may not have all the facts or ask the right questions before making an informed decision that benefits the team. 

We may communicate "down" and disrespectfully at people, seeing them as objects and a means to an end, rather than as worthy colleagues in pursuit of a common purpose.

We may talk too fast and impulsively, trampling over our own (and other people's) words to get our point across before considering the views of others. 

We may ultimately forget that effective communication isn't just about talking; great conversationalists listen intuitively to the other person's story, ask questions, and search conversations for depth, meaning, and understanding.

1 simple way to communicate effectively.

Communication has its biggest impact on people when it is utilized as a tool to serve their needs. At its best, communicating effectively means subscribing to the rule of the "continuous check-in."

Dan Tarantin, president and CEO of Harris Research Institute (HRI), the parent company of the Chem-DryN-Hance Wood Refinishing, and Delta Disaster Services franchise brands, advises other leaders to never forget to carve out time quarterly to sit down with employees to "temperature-check" their experience.

Are there ways that the employee experience can be improved for each person's role? Are your high performers professionally satisfied and engaged? These are ways in which communication moves the needle on your leadership performance and the performance of those you lead.

"Allowing for honest communication on their growth and the development of a personal relationship will reveal that their career matters to you as much as it does them," Tarantin shared with me over e-mail.

Buffett: 'Good communication will increase your worth.'

I'll wrap this up with another classic Buffett line to jolt us with reality. In a recent video, Buffett told a young entrepreneur that the way to become worth 50 percent more this year than you were last year is to naturally invest in yourself. More specifically, Buffett told the young man, hone your communication skills, both written and verbal.

The Oracle of Omaha said: "If you can't communicate, it's like winking at a girl in the dark--nothing happens. You can have all the brainpower in the world, but you have to be able to transmit it. And the transmission is communication."

Buffett should know. He was once terrified of one form of communication any person in a leadership role will have to master -- public speaking. That all changed after he took a public speaking course at Dale Carnegie, which, he said, changed his life.