10 Reasons for Executive Failure
A derailed executive is an previously-named high-potential employee who has reached the middle management level, only to find that there is little chance of future advancement (as previously thought) due to a misfit between job requirements and personal skills. Thus, the executive either plateaus or leaves the organization altogether. That is the original CCL studies definition. Sometimes the term also refers to leaders who experience big failures after reaching the executive spot and, more recently, those involved in ethical scandals.
Whatever your definition of a bad leader is, most have several of the following 10 leadership shortcomings:
Lack of energy/enthusiasm: OK so some people are less visibly enthusiastic than others, thanks to a personality trait called introversion. But there’s an effort to be made, no matter what your personality style, to covey and inspire energy and enthusiasm in your team. And there is NEVER an excuse for complaining. Either do it, change it, or leave it.
Accepting your own mediocre performance: If you don’t hold yourself to high standards, you can’t be responsible for others’ performance. Worse, yet, making excuses for your own mediocre performance. There are plenty of options for learning and development. Use them.
Lack of clear vision and direction: Too much doing and not enough thinking = Bad idea.
Poor judgment: This includes making poor decisions. Ask your team for advice. They may have data, ideas, and knowledge that you don’t.
Refusal to collaborate: There is a downside to being too independent. When you see other team members as competition, you miss out on getting their support when you may need it.
Not walking the talk: When you set a standard for behavior or for performance, hold yourself accountable as well! If people see you violating your own rules, your word will not be respected.
Resisting new ideas: Don’t turn down others’ ideas if you cannot offer a better solution of your own.
Not learning from mistakes: It’s ok to make a mistake. Most people won’t blame you for that. It’s when you make the same mistake. Over and over and over. And then complaining about it and/or shifting the blame.
Lack of interpersonal skills: Too mean, too harsh, or too detached. Being ignorant of others’ emotions and your impact on them is not a sustainable behavioral style if you want your company/department to succeed.
Failure to develop others: By this point, the focus on your individual performance is old news. The question now becomes, what can your people accomplish as a collective group?
These may sound like obvious flaws. They’re not. It is so easy to be unaware of your own bad behavior and people are very unlikely to point it out, especially if you’re the boss. I like this list because it is very comprehensive. Another upside of is that all of the shortcomings are behavioral. That means even if you possess all of these undesirable characteristics, you can change and improve. Improve how? Here’s an article about what you can do instead.
There was a whole ton of executive derailment research in the late 80’s and 90’s and they found four common themes, over and over:
• problems with interpersonal relationships
• failure to meet business objectives
• failure to build and lead a team
• inability to change or adapt during a transition
Looking at the list above, those four factors are certainly still playing a role in derailment today.
Study 1: 360-degree feedback data was collected on more than 450 Fortune 500 executives. Then the common characteristics of the 31 who were fired over the next three years.
Study 2: 360-degree feedback data from more than 11,000 leaders was analyzed. The 10% who were considered least effective were identified. They then compared the ineffective leaders with the fired leaders to come up with the 10 most common leadership shortcomings.