Back to Listing
What Can Topple Even the Best Leaders
23 February 2017
When you’re on
an upward career trajectory, it’s hard to imagine that the wheels could fall
off the wagon. Yet it can happen. And when your career derails unexpectedly,
it’s probably due to unaddressed leadership derailers which has brought your
career ascent to an abrupt stall.
Each of us has
development or skill areas that we need to work on. But leadership derailers
are more than just this. They are significant negative or counter productive
behaviours that erode your reputation, credibility and effectiveness as a
leader. And if left unaddressed, it could completely derail your career, or at
minimum, limit your career progression.
When things are
going well, it’s easy to ride the wave and believe that “I don’t have this
problem” but the statistics are confronting. Research by Korn Ferry indicates
that more than 25% of high potential leaders are also at high risk of
derailers are often behavioural habits or personality traits but they could
also develop as a result of being pushed too far ahead of your capabilities.
They are your Achilles heel that undermines your overall leadership potential.
In the book
Change Anything, the authors describe these behaviours as career-limiting
habits that include unreliability, resistance to change and having a negative
attitude. Marshall Goldsmith in his book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
identified 20 habits that can stifle careers including speaking when angry,
making excuses, not listening and failing to give proper recognition.
interesting perspective is when strengths are overplayed and turn instead into
weaknesses over time. For example, if not mindful, confidence can develop into
arrogance, attention to detail can rapidly descend down that slippery slope
Development Survey calls this the dark side of our personality. It’s our
personality characteristics that are strengths under normal circumstances, but
can transform into leadership derailers when under stress or pressure.
I’m sure you may
know leaders with other self destructive behaviours that are not listed here.
But how can you tell if you have leadership derailers yourself?
and early detection is key. Get feedback and pay attention to it. In
particular, look out for areas where feedback regarding your leadership style
is contrary to how you view yourself.
These may be leadership blindspots that you’re either unaware of, or
unwilling to acknowledge. Leadership assessment tools are also very helpful to
increase your self awareness and pinpoint specific areas to focus on.
What can you do about your derailers?
Put aside your ego. If you don’t acknowledge it, you won’t work
Identify your triggers. Especially if
your disruptive behaviours surface while under stress. That way you can be more
mindful to pre-empt them in future.
Develop a thorough understanding of what
specific action or behaviour is creating the negative outcome. Is it what you
said, what you didn’t say, the way you said it, or perhaps it was your body
language or your attitude? You can’t
develop a plan to mitigate your derailers without peeling the onion deeper.
We all could
have leadership derailers as we progress in our careers. Remember that
developing greater awareness is the critical first step.