Cheating and Where that Falls on the Derailer Detector

Let’s talk about cheating AND where that falls on the Derailer Detector and the latest victim.

Lance Armstrong, like Marion Jones and now Alex Rodriguez, is back in the news all for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).

Different than cheating on your wife; having an affair, this doping is illegal and gives unfair advantages. Armstrong lied to millions of people and destroyed careers of people that were one-time friends and teammates.

On the Derailer Detector there are 18 Derailers gathered from the Center for Creative Leadership and other sources such as: Dotlich and Cairo (2002) Why CEO’s Fail, Kellerman (2004) Bad Leadership, and Lipman-Blumen (2005) The Allure of Toxic Leadership.

Lance Armstrong meets 11 of the 18 Derailer behaviors. If these behaviors happen once a month, they can trump any of the Emotional Intelligence Competencies you have. For most executives, 2-3 Derailers that happen regularly are enough to undermine their success. Which Derailers plague Lance Armstrong?

Lance Armstrong will not face criminal charges from U.S. prosecutors after his public admission last month that he took performance-enhancing drugs, according to multiple reports recently. But the Derailers destroyed the career of an American hero. He is arguably the biggest fraud in the history of sports.

In his interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong stated:

  • “I’m a flawed character.”
  • “Did it feel wrong?”, said Winfrey.
  • “No,” Armstrong replied, “Scary.”
  • “Did you feel bad about it?” Winfrey pressed him.
  • “No,” he said, “Even scarier.”
  • “Did you feel in any way that you were cheating?”
  • No,” Armstrong paused, “Scariest.”
  • “I went and looked up the definition of cheat,” he added a moment later.
  • “And the definition is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe. I didn’t view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field.”

Here are the 11 Derailers from the Derailer Detector that Armstrong demonstrated:

  1. Lack of impulse control – Emotionally reactive, volatile, abrasive and follows urges to an unhealthy extreme. Lance lashed out at people who claimed he took performance-enhancing drugs.
  2. Smartest person in the room syndrome – Have to be right all of the time. Married to your own ideas and are not open to or distrusts new ideas. In the interview with Winfrey you can see his arrogance and how in the past he would distrust and destroy others if they disagreed with the lie he was promoting.
  3. Drives others too hard — Micromanage and take over rather than delegate. He was the ringleader of an elaborate doping scheme on a U.S. Postal Service team that swept him to the top of the podium at the Tour de France time after time.
  4. Perfectionism – Sets unrealistic goals and rejects criticism. He fought back any criticism toward him with aggression and we know now, lies.
  5. Defensive – Blames others, inflexible and argumentative. For over 10 years, Armstrong denied any wrong doing and wanted to bring down anybody who was telling the truth. “He’s damaged a lot of people’s lives,” said Betsy Andreu, whose husband, Frankie, was culled from Armstrong’s team for not agreeing to dope. “He has damaged the sport of cycling. Frankie was fired for not getting on the program. I never thought this day would come, but it’s so incredibly sad.”
  6. Self-promotion – Attention seeking, overlooks others accomplishments for own recognition. His success drive was to excess and overlooked the sacrifice and risk he put others under.
  7. Lacks insight into others. This is demonstrated by lack of empathy or compassion for others that he feels betrayed him by not going along with his lies. Their pain and suffering didn’t seem to affect him.
  8. Mistreats others – Callous, demeaning or discounting to others and their needs. Mike Anderson, Armstrong’s former assistant, said, “He gave me the firm, hard push and a shove,” in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “Made my life very, very unpleasant. It was an embarrassment for me and my family to be portrayed as liars, to be called a disgruntled employee, implying there was some impropriety on my part. It just hurt. It was completely uncalled for.” Anderson is among the dozens, maybe hundreds, of former teammates, opponents and associates to receive the Armstrong treatment, presumably for not going along with the party line — that the now-disgraced, seven-time Tour de France cyclist didn’t need to cheat to win.
  9. Self-Interest – Acts in self-interest instead of the interest of the whole organization or larger group. This one is obvious from his actions for his team versus the sport or individuals he brought down.
  10. Insular – Disregard of health and welfare of group outside the responsibility of your organization or team. Winning at all costs was more important than anyone’s health, disagreements or what was good for the sport.
  11. Lack of Integrity -“Unhonest” with self and then others, omit and minimize. He outright lied vehemently to others and started with not being honest with himself.

Will the public be able to overlook his lies and focus on the good he has done for cancer patients and his Livestrong organization? The good news is that his organization is still raising millions of dollars to fight cancer.

Actions: As you look at these Derailers and read about Lance Armstrong, are any of these Derailers destroying your development plans? If so, you need to develop a plan to mitigate them, get an executive coach, and implement some of the tools in Leading with Emotional Intelligence.

Where are you derailing?

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