A leadership derailer is a behavior that gets in the way of our progress. A derailer is not just a weakness. We all have many weaknesses that we may never choose to improve or need to master. A derailer is a weakness that requires improvement if we are to realize our potential.
You can recognize a derailer using these four criteria:
A derailer has the potential to limit our progress.
Sometimes, a derailer can be linked to a talent taken to an extreme.
Multiple strengths cannot compensate for a derailer.
Others tend to focus on, and emphasize our weaknesses (Horn effect).
Common Leadership Derailers
The most common leadership derailers include:
Lacks Focus: Easily distracted; shifts from task to task without getting the most critical things done.
Not a Team Player: Selfish; places personal agenda before the good of the team.
Disengaged: Appears bored or dissatisfied with work; does just enough to “get by.”
Not Trusted: Violates or compromises the trust of others; has difficulty gaining the trust of others.
Micromanages: Overly controlling; does not empower others with the freedom and latitude to do their best work.
Lacks Confidence: Overly concerned with making mistakes; indecisive; avoids risk.
Exclusive: Distant, unapproachable, or isolated; viewed as indifferent to others; fails to build effective relationships.
Arrogant: Egotistical; displays a strong sense of entitlement.
Closed-minded: Is closed to new ideas; not open to critical feedback; unwilling to consider other viewpoints.
Eager to please: Overly concerned with being accepted and liked; defers to other people’s opinions.
Perfectionist: Fails to recognize when something is “good enough;” obsessive; uncompromising.
Stagnant: Avoids opportunities for personal growth or learning.
This list is not complete and there may be others that are more relevant to your organization.
We measure leadership derailers using a special section of questions on 360 degree feedback surveys. This section provides a contrast and comparison to the leadership competency results. Here are some common examples that show how derailers augment standard 360 feedback results:
Standard 360 Result: High Score on Results Orientation Derailer Insight: High Scores on Micromanagement
Standard 360 Result: Low scores on Teamwork and Collaboration Derailer Insight: High score on Closed-minded
Standard 360 Result: Low score for Decision Making Derailer Insight: High score for Lacks Confidence
Derailers guide us to specific behaviors where we can take action. They often give us the “why” behind the results. Combined with the open-ended comments and the results from the leadership competency section, participants can clearly see themes appear in their feedback.
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