Is Your Career On Track? Characteristics That Derail Careers

Posted on December 30, 2014 by VITAL WorkLife


For more than 40 years, the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) has been studying the characteristics of successful leaders, compared to leaders whose once successful careers have "derailed" due to firing, promotion or lack of advancement.

According to CCL, derailed leaders typically:

  • Have problems with interpersonal relationships
  • Fail to hire, build and lead a team
  • Fail to meet business objectives
  • Are unable or unwilling to change or adapt
  • Lack a broad functional orientation

In June 2009, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman described ten "fatal flaws" that derail leaders in the Harvard Business Review. In their research, the worst leaders:

  • Lack energy and enthusiasm
  • Accept their own mediocre performance
  • Lack clear vision
  • Have poor judgment
  • Don't collaborate
  • Don't walk the talk
  • Resist new ideas
  • Don't learn from mistakes
  • Lack interpersonal skills
  • Fail to develop others

If you feel stalled at your current level of advancement, could any of the reasons listed above be contributing to your lack of advancement?

"There was a time when career advancement was a benefit of seniority," says Deb Wood, senior consultant for VITAL WorkLife. "Managers who are serious about career advancement need to be very strategic about developing the skills they need for the job they want next instead of relying on the strengths that got them the job they have today."

Career Development Planning:

How Your VITAL WorkLife EAP Can Help

If you have concerns about behaviors that may derailing your career, or want to explore putting your career on a different path, your EAP  can help.

Your EAP can include unlimited telephone consultation—available anytime, day or night. Your EAP also includes free face-to-face counseling with master's- and doctorate-level professionals.

An EAP consultant can help you assess your current job and make a plan for addressing behaviors that need to change and developing new skills. Following an initial conversation, you may want to check in with HR or your manager about the availability of:

  • A 360° feedback process to help you understand how you're perceived by colleagues, direct reports and senior management
  • Company-sponsored leadership development opportunities
  • The availability of training or workshops to build specific skills

"We've helped many managers work through what they're missing in their current position, what they want moving forward, and then develop plans for getting there," concludes Wood.

Helpful Online Resources

The VITAL WorkLife member website offers helpful tools and information designed to help managers and supervisors, themselves, and their employees to develop their careers. For example:

  • Developing Your Career
  • Developing Your Career From Ground Up
  • How Managers Can Help Their Employees Succeed
  • Making Your Career Dreams a Reality
  • Month-by-Month Guide to Career Management
To access these articles, log in to your member website:
  1. Click member login above
  2. Enter your user name and password, and click "Submit"
  3. Under "Working," pull down to "Career Development" and explore the articles in the category "Career Tips"

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