Career Derailment: The Warning Signs

As a project manager or team leader, career derailment is a key issue. It’s when you don’t achieve what you want or need. Research by Morgan McCall, a US researcher, and the Centre for Creative Leadership has shown that this is a common problem among high-potential employees.
Surprisingly the most common causes for leadership derailment are the same qualities that got you on the fast track. These initially promising qualities can turn out to be a hindrance later on.
What are the signs of possible derailment as a leader of a team?
Track Record
Although people may have achieved great results in the past, or had an impact on technical areas, it can lead to problems if they are limited in their ability to do so. For example, if the success was only in technical areas, it could have blinded people from the larger context of teamwork or leadership.
Perhaps their first success was due to teamwork but not credit to other members of the team. These new leaders may need coaching or development to improve their skills.
Although it may seem great to have brilliant people in your team, there are downsides. Brilliant people can be intimidating to others, and they can sometimes devalue colleagues (often subconsciously), who they perceive as less competent than them.
You should pay attention to how your brilliant team member interacts with others. Can they listen and be involved with others? Can they recognize the good ideas of others? If they are unable to do so, you as a leader must be able to coach them. Otherwise they could fall behind.
High levels of commitment can be a good thing. However, there are also some downsides. Overcommitting can lead to a person defining their life in terms work, and then expecting others to do the same. This can lead to managers doing anything to succeed, even if it is questionable or unethical.
Although you don’t want people to stop working hard, it’s important to be aware of your team members’ work-life balance to ensure they don’t burnout or worse, cause burnout in others.
Manipulation is a downside to charm. Some people can switch easily between being charming and bully when they are able to get something. If someone in your team uses charm a lot, ensure they are being charming to everyone, even when you aren’t there.
This is a good thing. However, highly ambitious people can become too ambitious and take on more than they can handle.
Others are driven to succeed and are willing to sacrifice their personal success for the benefit of the team or organization. If they are not careful, it can lead to a loss of career.
Why don’t people do something?
You might be wondering why people don’t fix their mistakes before they cause problems. Research shows that there are many reasons. The most important reason is that the person hasn’t been adversely affected yet and that they may not be aware or partially aware of their weaknesses.
Another reason could be that they are in denial. They refuse to admit weakness and ignore any feedback. Cultural factors, whether they are national or organizational, may also play a role.
How can I avoid derailment?
As a leader, it is your responsibility to spot the signs of derailment in your team members and yourself and to have the skills to address them. Here are some guidelines:
Intervene – don’t do nothing Have the courage and the guts to intervene and point out any consequences