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Leadership: Leaders, Followers, Environments by Art Padilla

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Leader derailment

Have you ever wondered why some managers and leaders fall from the fast track while others continue to climb up the ladder toward more responsibility and authority? The topic of leader derailment, or self-destruction, again underscores the interrelatedness of self-awareness, interpersonal antennae, self regulation, personality, behaviors, culture, and leadership. Derailment is one of the three possible outcomes of a leadership process, the other two possible results being destructive and constructive outcomes.

Just as important as the traits and patterns that effective leaders exhibit are those behaviors that are absent. It’s not so much that poor leaders are missing the “right stuff” as it is that they have the wrong stuff.85 In general, research seems to confirm that effective leaders, both as measured by performance and by peer and supervisory evaluations, tend to exhibit a high “emotional intelligence.” Emotional stability or lack of neuroticism, in the Big Five terminology, refers to having people skills and qualities like the ability to read social situations, understanding one’s own experiences, empathy toward others, and selfregulation of emotions. Behaviors connected with executive derailment are the polar opposites of behaviors associated with effective leaders.86

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