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Derailment is defined as when talented or hitherto successful people fail to live up to expectations. The research into leadership derailment usually focuses on the individual. Why did the leader fail to live up to expectations? What went wrong? What did they not do that they should have done and what did they do that they should not have done? Its usually all about the leaders behaviours whilst contextual and cultural considerations are often marginalised. There are a lot of cultural implications which increase the risk of derailment. the international executive is at risk of derailment due to two other forces: "Contextual Factors" and "Organisational Mistakes". Contextual Factors start with the fact that the context is significantly enriched in international settings by the added stress of a foreign environment and by differences in language, culture and belief systems that make inappropriate behaviour and misunderstandings more likely. Organisational Mistakes include the absence of feedback, little monitoring, the tolerance of existing flaws and a lack of support. The risk of organisational negligence can be particularly acute for foreign nationals coming to the companys headquarters and for executives returning home. In this chapter author described about four types of dynamics of derailment. They are strength become weaknesses, blind spot matter, success leads to arrogance, Bad luck occurs.


Strength Become Weaknesses Strengths that have led to success become weaknesses in a new situation. Strengths can be over-used (Fiorina), used when they are no longer the ones needed in the situation (Condit), or literally become a negative in a situation requiring different strengths and for which the existing strength is counterproductive (McNealy). As situations change, the development of new strengths (and letting go of old ones) may be required. People, especially successful people (Charan et al., 2001), like to do what they are good at, and organizations, rational as they are, like to keep them doing it. This unconscious collusion works to prevent development of new skills, which requires doing things people dont know how to do, and gives the appearance that playing people to their strengths is an effective strategy. Until, of course, the situation changes and the old strengths no longer serve. The corporate version of the right stuff is built on the assumption there is a finite list of virtues that defies effective executive leadership and that these virtues distinguish exceptional from average executives. If every strength is also a potential weakness, however neither assumption holds. There are many examples of notable strengths becoming notable weaknesses. When Edwd Lucent assumed second in command at digital equipment, he was said to have the toughness and discipline needed to change the culture. But he was later described as abrasive and autocratic. The problem with strength that has led to success is a result of the success itself. It is difficult to abandon what has worked, even when circumstances change, and it may be nearly impossible to give up old patterns if no new skills have been developed replace the old ones. Technical expertise is another strength that is effective in some leadership situations, especially at lower management levels. When however a managers superior expertise leads to over managing telling people how to do their jobs rather than letting them do their job it becomes a liability. This tendency is especially self-destructive when people being over managed know more about what they are doing their boss does. Blind Spots Matter Existing flaws become salient in a new situation. Playing to strengths spares managers the painful and difficult task of trying to fix other peoples flaws. It does not, however spare managers from being derailed by their flaws. It is true that towering strengths can overshadow flaws and lead to forgiveness of them, but just as changing situations can negate strengths, they can also ignite flaws. Because flaws may also be strengths (its often a matter of degree), they can be difficult to self-assess and to change. Nonetheless, ignoring them leaves a time bomb ticking: the time to pay attention to flaws (to manage if not correct them) is before they become fatal. Humiliating peers in front of peers or subordinates, cutting people off, demeaning others ideaseveryone who has ever worked for an insensitive boss knows the story and the incredible visceral response such treatment generates. Organizations seem quite willing to overlook the flaw of insensitivity as long as someone gets result. But at the higher levels of managements, alienating others in most cases assures that good results will not be sustained over time. It cant be very useful to have large numbers of people eager to see one fail. Talented people people who get results, people who have visible achievements tend to change situations often. Finding themselves in situations that no longer play to their strengths, they are left with only their weaknesses to draw on. of course successful people have many changes in jobs and bosses during their careers, and most of these transition go smoothly.

Similarly globalization deregulation, consolidation acquisition and divestiture all create new territory that changes the relevance of existing patterns of strengths and weaknesses. There are perhaps several reasons that talented people dont correct their weaknesses before they cause havoc. Like bottom line is that they have been hurt by them. Because the confident built by success and the presence of demonstrated strength, it is possible to dismiss potential weakness as unimportant or as nonexistent. The goal after all is to enhance and preserve talented people, not to destroy them.

Success Leads To Arrogance While this is really just an extreme case of a strength (self-confidence) becoming a weakness, it is so frequent it deserves its own category. Repeated success and the reinforcement accompanying it can be quite seductive, leading people to believe that their strengths are greater than they are, that their strengths will always carry them, that they dont need other people, or that they dont need to do anything about their dark side. In other words, arrogance creates the perfect conditions for the first two dynamics to do their work. Arrogance has some special qualities that merit separate treatment. One is that arrogance grows over time with success. Unlike preexisting strengths that become weakness in a different situation or preexisting weakness that become important later on, arrogance develops over time causes people to loss their bearings. in effect., it sets up the other derailment dynamics by creating a feeling of invincibility and blindness to ones impact and its potential consequences. The derailment cases were filled with people were unaware of important information, failed to see significance of crucial events , could not understand why their behavior had negative consequences, or ignored the obvious disrepair in critical relationship. The arrogance erodes effectiveness is by creating perception that the normal rules do not apply. Power and a long track record of success conspired to blind some executives to their dependence on others, sometimes to the extent of believing that their action were above scrutiny The development of arrogance is one of the most insidious of the derailment dynamics. It is a negative thats grows from positive, deriving as it dose from actual and success. It is not only immediate and direct negative impact through the overt behaviors it spawns. but it also blinds people to the impact of their behaviors as well.

Bad Luck and Reactions TO IT The forth dynamic of derailment involves what appears to be bad luck. Sometimes talented people are just unlucky. Through no fault of their own, they lose a run in with fate. There are victims of capricious circumstances. Talented people can be swept out in large- scale corporate housecleaning outplace by generic agreement resulting from mergers to actuations, tainted by association with a regime that loses favor, sabotaged by jealous rivals or dragged down despite personal achievement by uncontrollable market forces or others mistake. Many factors that affect performance are out of the actors control, and poor performance is surely a major derailing factor at the senior levels. Bad luck is to consider it broadly as a change in circumstance. Effective executives are prepared to take advantage of changes of fortune when they appear.

The final scenario of many derailments begins with some kind of performance problems which may be unusual, given the prior success of the manager. Successful talented people have track records composed of many more success than failures. Whereas success after success can lull the successful person into over confidence and an inflated self image, it also affects the behavior of outside observers vis--vis the star performer. It is almost impossible to live life without making some enemies, and leadership requires making decisions that sometimes leave resentment. To summarize, when things go wrong for people who have a track records of success, trouble causes other people to lock more closely. Even decline of performance is not directly their fault.