4 Derailers – These will Undermine Your Leadership in a Hurry – (Wisdom, & Warnings, from Bob Johansen and Susan Scott)


Get There EarlyBecause he believes so deeply that he is right, a severely self-righteous person doesn’t realize that he is behaving in a self-righteous manner.
Bob Johansen, Get There Early

The three primary derailers are difficulty handling change, not being able to work well in a team, and poor interpersonal relations.
Susan Scott, Fierce Leadershipfierce-leadership-susan-scott


What will do you in? If you are in a leadership position at all, what will do you in, making you utterly ineffective? What will reach up and cause you real harm?

I was revisiting some books I have presented earlier at the First Friday Book Synopsis, and was struck by these four problems, these “derailers.”

The first comes from Bob Johansen, in Get There Early, and the next three come from Susan Scott, in Fierce Leadership. Both books are worth reading. (But if you want to laugh-out-loud at her “directness,” read Susan Scott. She is a hoot!)

So, here are the four derailers. (The word, derailer, comes from the Susan Scott quote):

Derailer #1 – self-righteous arrogance.
When a leader makes a mistake – and he/she will make a mistake! – we need a leader who is capable of saying “I’ve made a mistake.” To make that kind of admission requires humility – and, self-righteousness is a pretty big enemy of such humility. In my view, we’ve had enough examples of leaders who will not admit their mistakes. Such self-righteous denial can undermine credibility in a hurry.

Derailer #2 – difficulty handling change.
Change is now arriving far more quickly – with additional changes coming at shorter and shorter intervals. If you have difficulty handling change, you are truly having difficulty functioning in this VUCA world: a world of Volatility; Uncertainty; Complexity; Ambiguity. Yes, difficulty handling change in this kind of world can certainly derail you.

Derailer #3 – not being able to work well in a team.
There is little that can be accomplished alone these days. The ability to collaborate well with other members of a team is a true survival skill. Failure to do this will put you pretty close to the ineffective end of any scale.

Derailer #4 – poor interpersonal relations.
This is related to #3 (teams), but it applies to all interactions. Leaders have to like people; you have to get along with people; you have to communicate effectively with other people — for the purpose of building good effective relationships. Poor interpersonal relations will certainly lead to a long list of troubles.

So, to stay on the rails, rather than be derailed:

#1 – work on humility – combat any inclination toward self-righteousness
#2 – embrace change — don’t reject, or even strongly resist, change
#3 – be a good team player, play well with others — don’t be a complete loner, or a team underminer…
#4 – cultivate interpersonal relationships, and work on building more relationships – do not “stay away” from other folks…

So, how are you doing? Are you safely on the rails, or are you on the verge of being derailed?



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