Back on Track: Understanding Career Derailers

For years, we have wondered why individuals who had been successful in their careers and whose managers had identified as having the right stuff got off track.  Starting in 1967, V.J. Bentz conducted a 30 year research study of managers at the Sears Roebuck Company that found that people who were very successful in their careers (spanning 20-30 years and reaching very high levels) and who, in the eyes of the organization, did not live up to their full potential displayed certain behaviors that sidetracked leaders from advancing in their careers. (the findings have been repeated through other research).  These leaders were described as bright, had outstanding records of achievement, were ambitious and had few “faults”.

These leaders were seen as unable to build and lead a team, had problems with interpersonal relationships, struggled to change or adapt during a transition and failed in the end to meet business objectives. So it was less about lacking the RIGHT STUFF and more about having the WRONG STUFF.The behaviors that derailed these leaders are the “dark side of personality” – we may or may not be aware we have them but others certainly do as they tend to come up during times of stress and the impact on others is palpable and lasting. They are aspects of personality which may emerge during difficult times which under normal conditions may actually be strengths.  All adults have them – they are part of one’s personality.

When identified early and leaders are coached on strategies that help them learn to identify what triggers their derailers to come up and what strategies they can use.  This is a very powerful assessment and is best used when offered as part of a formal coaching process or development opportunity.   If you are interested in seeing the derailer assessment and talk about how you can get back on track, contact Marga Biller at LINC Associates or fill in the information below.

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