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Identify and Prevent Leadership Derailment

Identify and Prevent Leadership Derailment

Sometimes a leader's best plans don't quite pan out. Whether it's due to a stress response or finally facing a situation that's tough to overcome, leadership derailment not only affects the individual but generates ripples throughout the organization. Here are some tips for identifying and avoiding leadership derailment, courtesy of That Social Geek.

What's the Difference Between Derailment and Incompetence?

Within the first 18 months of a new executive position, between 38% and over 50% of executives get derailed. Whether this failure is a matter of derailment or incompetence is a fine distinction.

Incompetence means a leader lacks something, such as skills or energy. However, many argue that derailed leaders have more than enough talent, ability, and education, but something more fundamental is an issue. These boil down to three common behaviors:

  • 1. Desire to add their unsolicited option to every discussion. This can manifest in constant interruptions, with the leader thinking they're adding value.
  • 2. Failure to listen. Some managers may rush presentations of direct reports, telling employees to 'move it along.'
  • 3. Inability to be accountable for their actions. They provide ample excuses, showing they can't take responsibility for their actions.
  • These behaviors lead to a toxic work environment and higher employee turnover.

    Factors That Lead to Derailment

    In addition to common toxic behaviors, other factors that lead to derailment include:

  • Inability to Delegate
  • Leaders decide to do all the important tasks themselves, or if they do assign them, they may micromanage workers. This leads to low morale and weakens worker creativity, potentially causing insubordination and increased absenteeism.

  • Inability to Adapt
  • A leader's inability to adjust to changing circumstances can lead to burnout. For instance, they may insist on maintaining the status quo for accounts receivable instead of using the best accounting software available. This can manifest as the leader feeling drained at the end of the workday. This affects 60% of executives, according to a 2021 Global Leadership survey.

  • Making Unethical Choices
  • The report on the State of Moral Leadership in Business indicates that close to 90% of employees demand moral leadership, while only 7% believe they're getting it. Cheating and stealing by leaders erode the trust of all stakeholders. When enough people lose faith in the company, everyone gets derailed.

    3 Ways to Minimize Leadership Derailment

    One of the first steps for any organization is to proactively minimize leadership derailment. This starts with identifying the derailers to tailor the best solution, which can include:

  • 1.Regular Feedback. Leaders may not have an accurate view of their strengths and weaknesses. Providing regular feedback, including 360-degree feedback, increases self-awareness while giving leaders a chance to see and emulate steps that work.
  • 2. Succession Planning. In an effort to stop the habit of promoting the wrong person or promoting the right person too early, succession planning lets organizations do complete talent assessments that go beyond technical skills. Depending on the size of your organization, a simple planner can help you keep track of important dates and reminders.
  • 3.Mentoring. Coaching and mentoring new leaders help them acclimate to their responsibilities better.
  • Curbing Derailment

    Leadership derailment is a mixture of several factors and events. Having the right policies and procedures in place, starting with candidate selection mitigates the crippling damage. And awareness of potential problems is a great way to avoid them in the first place!

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