Leadership Derailment – What Causes it & How to Resolve it

Leaders are supposed to drive growth, innovation, and development within the organization. But what if the leader is the primary source of derailment? As a leader, it is important to assess your own skills and performance on a periodic basis. It opens your eyes to any potential issues that could be impeding your progress, and that includes your own actions. Discover what leadership derailment is and how it can be resolved.


What is Leadership Derailment?

Leadership derailment is a result of a leader reaching some sort of plateau in their career. In some cases, the performance dips so much that they end up being demoted from their position. This is not uncommon, a lot of leaders hold so much promise but are unable to keep up with their potential to the point that they fall unexpectedly in their career.

The unfortunate thing here is that derailment in leadership can impact the entire organization and not just the individual. While it is a common occurrence, it is not an inevitable issue. It can be easily addressed and prevented with timely intervention.

It is important to identify the common causes of leadership derailment in order to address them quickly.

resolving leadership derailament

Causes of Leadership Derailment 

The causes of leadership derailment are quite varied. It can be personal, organizational, or triggered by specific circumstances. The good news is that you can do something about this issue no matter what the cause may be.


  1.   Insufficient training and development – This is one of the top reasons why executives and leaders plateau and see a performance dip after many years. It could be that the organization lacks commitment to train its staff or the leader lacks the commitment to learn.


  1.   Lack of leadership qualities – A person who lacks leadership qualities is more prone to derailment because they fail to lead and engage their employees. They do not have the ability to inspire their team to develop and to dedicate themselves towards the common goal of the organization.


  1.  Lack of capacity to change – The ability to adapt to change at a moment’s notice is critical to the success of any leader. When you fail to innovate or adapt to the changing conditions around you, then your leadership is bound to fail.


  1.  Lack of vision and strategy – The inability of a leader to develop and execute a strategy is another factor that can cause leadership derailment.


  1.  Lack of trust – A leader who does not trust in the abilities of his employees can cause derailment. Employees that feel as though their leaders do not trust them tend to perform poorly and are unable to meet their full potential.


  1.   Lack of self-awareness – Self-awareness is one of the most critical qualities possessed by an effective leader. Without it, a leader lacks emotional intelligence and does not make an effort to improve.


  1.  Micromanagement – Leaders who micromanage their team are likely to experience derailment. It often stems from the lack of trust from the leadership about the capabilities of their team.


  1.  Failure to deliver results – There are several reasons that can cause this to happen, such as lack of proper time management, lack of accountability, and no prioritization.


  1.  Poor leadership selection – The decision of which leader to appoint for the team is critical. If someone is not a good fit for the job, then the rest of the team will suffer from the consequences.


  1.  Lack of teamwork – Leaders must work on bringing the team together for effective communication and collaboration. Leadership derailment is a result of the inability of the team to work as one unit.


Actionable Steps Against Derailment

The first step in the right direction involves identifying the causes of leadership derailment. Now that you have done that, it is important to focus on how you can resolve those issues.

Here are some of the ways that you can address the problem of leadership derailment in your organization.


Give Frequent Feedback

Feedback is a must in order to keep the organization running like a well-oiled machine. Give feedback as often as needed – whether in formal or informal settings. Leaders should also seek feedback from others because not everyone has enough level of self-awareness to know their own strengths and weaknesses.

It is important for leaders to identify their areas of weaknesses so they can work on improving themselves. If there are any behaviors that could derail the leadership, make sure they are integrated into the feedback system so that appropriate measures can be taken in addressing them.

ways to avoid leadership derailment

Seek Developmental Opportunities

Identifying the flaws and common causes of leadership derailment is not the end goal. There should be a continued effort to improve and learn new skills. As a leader, you should not be content with your existing knowledge or skill set. You must strive to add more to your repertoire so that you are well-equipped to cope with challenges that will require these skills in the future.


Talent Assessment

Task delegation is one of the crucial responsibilities that leaders have. Your ability to identify the potential of every individual in your team and delegate them the tasks where they fit the role is going to be a crucial part of your organization’s success.

The ability to identify talents and skills so that you can match that with the jobs and responsibilities that are required in your organization is an important leadership skill. By creating the right match, you will be able to address possible causes of derailment in the organization.


Hire a Coach

Hiring an executive coach is one of the best ways to prevent or resolve leadership derailment. Executive coaches are in demand these days because they provide executives and leaders an objective assessment of their qualities, as well as expert guidance on how to become a more effective leader.

Coaches provide the training and mentoring that leaders need, especially in areas where they are lacking. Your success in this approach will weigh heavily on choosing the right coach. Make sure you evaluate your options carefully so you can make the most of working with an executive coach.


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