What Are Your Derailers? How can you find out?

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Dr. Greenberg and I were talking about coaching and what you are typically working with are your strengths which we are trying to build and broaden. If derailers are present, you have to pay attention to them; Zenger Folkman called them “fatal flaws.”

These can take you off the track — off the rail’; in other words “derail” you, and it can happen in a moment. The Derailer Detector identifies the top characteristics which can trump your Emotional Intelligence.

Leaders are under the spotlight almost all of the time; 24/7. Often they don’t realize it and are just trying to get a task done. They may ignore people, they may be racing down the hall and not pay any attention to others. Their employees may think the worst, like ” he doesn’t like me, or he knows I’m late on X, Y, or Z, and doesn’t want to talk with me.”

Leaders also have more influence than they think. It only takes a couple of opportunities for “derailers” to pop up. People don’t take a lot of time thinking about others, but spend most of the time thinking about themselves. If these derailers do pop-up, people quickly crystallize their opinion and think, that is the way that you are.

Snapshot management, as discussed in my book Leading with Emotional Intelligence, usually happens in meetings. If everything goes well, the click-click-click of snapshots, are positive; you are in great shape; you are offering good things, you support people, you are a team player. If, in those meetings, you are rolling your eyes, if all you do is speak negatively, if you interrupt people or try to act like the smartest person in the room, then the snapshots are negative and it will be an uphill battle.

If this happens there are two challenges:

  1. You have to make a change.
  2. Nobody is necessarily going to recognize that you have made a change–how do you communicate or advertise that you have made changes?

What are the Derailers? Here’s a list of 18:

  • Smartest person in the room syndrome: Have to be right all of the time, married to your own ideas and are not open or distrusts new ideas.
  • Lack of Impulse control: Emotionally reactive, volatile, abrasive and follow urges to an unhealthy extreme.
  • Drives others too hard: Micromanage and take over rather than delegate.
  • Perfectionism: Sets unrealistic goals, rejects criticism.
  • Defensive: Blames others.
  • Risk averse: Lacks courage to take risks.
  • Failure to learn from mistakes: Same kind of mistakes show up.
  • Lacks insight into others: Can’t read others emotions or reactions.
  • Doesn’t ask for feedback: Misses opportunities to include others for better decisions.
  • Self-promotion: Attention seeking, overlook others accomplishments for own recognition.
  • Lack of Integrity: “Unhonest” with self and then others, omit and minimize.
  • Fail to adapt to cultural differences: Do not change your leadership style appropriately.
  • Indirect with others: Do not give the hard feedback or make the difficult decisions about people.
  • Approval dependent: Need too much approval before making decisions.
  • Eccentricity: Unpredictable and odd in your behavior.
  • Mistreats others: Callous, demeaning or discounting to others and their needs.
  • Self-Interest: Acts in self-interest instead of the interest of the whole organization or larger group.
  • Insular: Disregard of health and welfare of group outside the responsibility of your organization or team.

If you would like to take the Derailer Detector and see if you have any of these traits, you can click here and go through Dr. Greenberg and my website, Xcel Institute, for the report, free of charge.

Learn more about derailers, the ones that make people cheat, and building resiliency;  listen to the complete recording, without commercials, above.

Thank you,



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