Written by: Renée LeMoine
Photo by: Vojtěch Vlk
“Our managing director was headhunted from another firm based on his performance record. However, after only a year with our company, he is being replaced due to poor results. Is this type of turnaround common?
Derailment studies conducted on top executives have found that the distinctiveness that accounted for an executive’s success in the earlier part of his career may conversely be the impetus for a downfall after reaching the top. The practice of using past behavior to predict future behavior isn’t reliable for determining how top executives will perform once they are promoted.
Consequently, corporate variables dependent on business strategy, opportunities to move within the company, mentoring programs, and accurate and timely feedback are proving to be more important to support executive success than talent alone.
Typically, individual attributes of candidates selected for executive positions include:
- Strong track record and consistent bottom-line results
- Remarkable analytical or problem-solving skills
- Personal warmth and a zest of charm when dealing with others
- Ambition, with a drive to do what it takes to get results
- Loyalty, a willingness to work long hours and accept tough assignments with humor
Nevertheless, success at the top can be fleeting, as strengths can turn to weaknesses. Brilliance may intimidate others, charm may be abused to manipulate, ambition may lead to ruthlessness, and so forth. Hence, an inventory of top executives competencies within your own organization can provide insight into development topics that need to be tackled. Contemplate:
- Innovative leaders may also be unrealistic and impractical.
- Leaders biased toward action may also be hasty and demanding.
- Customer-focused leaders can be too conservative and unable to control costs.
The very situations that lead to derailment can be managed in such a way as to enhance development. The challenge is determining how to best influence which way the experience goes.
Article prepared by Renée LeMoine, Executive Director, LeMoine & Associates