Preventing Executive Derailment
By Carl Robinson, Ph.D., © 2009
Research on executive effectiveness has found that 33% of executives selected for senior positions fail. Some estimates run as high as 50%. How do you know if a key employee is headed for a crash? With the cost of replacing key employees reaching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars preventing derailment is critical. Drawing from several sources (executive leadership literature review, my professional experience as an executive coach, interviews with recruiters, etc.,) clear indicators and patterns emerge that point toward careers headed for derailment. One startling fact emerges: there are amazing similarities between the careers of successful individuals and derailers so it’s often hard to see a derailment coming before it’s too late.
Below is a list of similarities, differences and the key derailment indicators and patterns to look out for regardless of industry or stage of company growth. If any of the derailment indicators are emerging then watch out! It’s time to take corrective developmental action before a potentially successful career goes South.
Difference show up however in the following areas:
Reasons for derailment – major factors:
How these flaws are usually discovered – a few examples:
Key take a-ways and applications:
The research on executive success is clear - successful executives are developed not hatched full grown. Wayne Calloway the late CEO of PepsiCo said, “I’ll bet most of the companies that are in life-or-death battles got into that kind of trouble because they didn’t pay enough attention to developing their leaders.” Successful executive are active learners. They make mistakes but learn from their mistakes. So, run through the list of derailment factors on your key managers and if you see any red flags (similarities) – take corrective developmental action to prevent derailment and the costly financial and personal consequences.
The following guidelines for behavioral change can help people change –