3 ways leadership derailment can be avoided
• Be aware of derailment
The first step towards preventing leadership derailment is, perhaps not surprisingly, to understand the concept of what derailment actually is. In brief, derailment can be thought of as where a person in a leadership role fails to reach the level of achievement and success suggested by their previous performance and demonstrated skills. This might be seen, for example, in a high potential employee who is promoted after years of impressive work, or in a long-established CEO who has been parachuted into a firm to provide a new perspective. What causes it, of course, is the great question, and might range from poor communication or a lack of strategic awareness, through to a competency or personal weakness that wasn’t revealed in previous roles.
• Improve your selection processes
One key lever that many organisations will look to prevent derailment is to investigate and refine their selection process. A well-designed assessment and selection process can better address what is required in the specific leadership role being recruited, taking account of the various competencies and skills that an individual organisation is looking for in its new leader. It can look at aspects such as interpersonal skills and leadership qualities, and help reveal more about a candidate that their simple “on-paper” profile might.
• Create & implement a development plan
The flip-side of selection is to also focus on the continual development of the new leader’s skills to address any existing skills gaps and to avoid plateauing once they are promoted. This can utilise the strengths and weaknesses of their candidacy identified during selection, and then build on it to identify development areas and opportunities that can continue to add to their leadership capacity. It can also make space for executive coaching which allows a leader access to an impartial and expert sounding board, helping them to talk through concerns and issues rather than deal with them alone.
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