Updated: Dec 8, 2018
When a train derails it runs off its rails either due to operational or mechanical failure the derailment still occurs and causes chaos! Leadership failure also known as leadership derailment, is a term used for those in leadership positions that are expected to reach success in an organization, only to get knocked off track. In my last post I discussed how costly it is for hiring managers to hire ineffective leaders, and how various leadership attributes can potentially lead to success. Leadership derailment is also costly due to the amount of resources a company has invested in a leader. No one foresees a leader to fail! Even leaders with high self esteem that are motivated, can face derailment at any given time, specifically if they are unable to adapt their skills and behaviors to meet the changing demands of their roles within an the organization.
Leaders that derail also have specific individual attributes that can result in failure, and being prone to high stress and heavy workload are considered potential triggers. Research has shown that individuals who possess problems with interpersonal relationships, lack of self awareness, trust and integrity issues, failure to build with a team, and inability to take criticism can all experience leadership derailment.
The most common causes for derailment:
- Lack of teamwork. This can occur when a leader focuses on themselves versus the team, as personal goals and ambitions can prevent teamwork.
- Insufficient Training development. There has been much research on whether leadership training and development is successful. Ineffective training fails to produce talent and is costly to an organization.
- Ineffective leadership . Often time egos can get in the way of a leader providing leadership to help a team grow.
- Lack of strategy and vision. Failing to develop and execute strategy and focusing on personal goals versus the greater good of the company.
-Inability to deliver results. Lack of prioritization, time management, and accountability can contribute to leadership failure.
To many, failure prevention may be something that can be controlled, although easier said than done, as being in a leadership position is unpredictable. Although individual leaders play a role in leadership derailment , surprisingly a company can contribute to derailment. Most commonly through poor selection processes; not accurately assessing skills, capabilities, promoting people so fast that they never gain experience in any one position, and by linking success and rewards too closely to moving up the organizational hierarchy .
Minimizing Leadership Derailment
Understanding and defining those who may fail is the first step for organizations to take in trying to minimize leadership derailment. By providing leadership with frequent feedback, by providing coaching for leaders as they assume new roles and responsibilities, and by providing support, organizations can help leaders to potentially eliminate derailment.