Derailing Your Leadership

These 18 derailers developed by Dr. Reldan Nadler are insightful for helping high performing leaders identify sabotaging actions that undermine leadership potential and performance.

“1. Smartest Person in the room syndrome- Have to be right all the time, married to your own ideas and are not open or distrusts new ideas

2. Lack of Impulse control – Emotionally reactive, volatile, abrasive and follow urges to an unhealthy extreme

3. Drives others too hard – Micromanage and take over rather than delegate

4. Perfectionism – Sets unrealistic goals, Reject criticism

5. Defensive – Blame others, inflexible and are argumentative

6. Risk averse – Lacks courage to take risks

7. Failure to learn from mistakes – Same kind of mistakes show up

8. Lacks insight into others – Can’t read others emotions or reactions

9. Doesn’t ask for feedback – Miss opportunities to include others for better decisions

10. Self-promotion- Attention seeking, overlook others accomplishments for own recognition

11. Lack of Integrity – “Unhonest” with self and then others, omit and minimize

12. Fail to adapt to cultural differences – Do not change your leadership style appropriately

13. Indirect with others – Do not give the hard feedback or make the difficult decisions about people

14. Approval dependent – Need too much approval before making decisions

15. Eccentricity – Unpredictable and odd in your behavior

16. Mistreats others – Callous, demeaning or discounting to others and their needs

17. Self-Interest – Acts in self-interest instead of the interest of the whole organization or larger group

18. Insular – Disregard of health and welfare of group outside the responsibility of your organization or team”

Derailers referened from Leading with Emotional Intelligence assessment

Key Elements of Self-Leadership

Self-leadership is essential to living in tune with our vision and desired legacy.  Self-leadership is the first link in the chain of high-performance leadership, if it is weak, everything else is vulnerable to breakdown.  Below are six key elements of self-leadership that enable leaders to thrive.  These elements overlap and have distinctive emphases.


Rhythm is the flow and harmony of our life.  When our rhythm is harmonized, we are giving the right attention, time and focus to the right things.  When our rhythm is off, we are neglecting the wrong areas of our life, investing too little or too much time one area to the detriment of others.  Perfect balance is not the goal of this word.  Life is too dynamic to pursue balance.  Instead, harmony is the word that speaks to health in the midst of competing priorities, agendas, and responsibilities.


Rituals are intentional sequences that align us to our grander vision, purpose, and perspective.  Rituals require us to be very present and engaged.  They are a conduit for connecting to our deepest life purpose. Rituals serve as reminders for the things that matter most. An example of a ritual would be reflecting on our life vision plan at the start of the week, reflecting on our values alignment at the end of the week, scripture reading or prayer.   


Routines are the repeated set of habits or processes that empower our potential and performance.  Routines bring structure and organization to our life in a manner that accomplishes our goals and vision.  Initiating routines requires effort and focus, but routines require less active energy over time once they are established.  An example of a routine would be an exercise routine, a morning routine, or a weekly planning routine.


Recalibrate is the intentional process to set and sustain priority focus.  In the whirlwind of daily leadership, priorities can become hidden in the fog of noise, conversations, urgent requests and surprises.  Leaders must be purposeful and intentional to determine priorities and establish planned check-ins to maintain course.


Refueling speaks to the diet, exercise, and rest needed for sustained performance over time.  Refueling is the self-care and self-management required to function at our peak performance and avoid burnout.  To best serve organizations and employees requires a leader who recharges and has the energy to required for strong self-leadership. 


Remembering is about living life with gratitude.  It is about receiving the gift of today and celebrating those we work with.  Leaders are pulled and pushed from various directions.  The pace and chaos that can swirl around them can accelerate the speed of life in an unhelpful manner. Remembering is both a posture and set of practices that help a leader live with gratitude and be fully present in today.

Reflective Practitioners

“Reflective practitioners think in action; that is, they practice while reflecting mindfully on their actions, in order to continuously improve both their theories and their practices.”

Getting Beyond Better, Martin & Osberg


As I coach leaders and seek to align my own desired legacy with actual reality each day, I find tools can help empower the journey.  I recently developed the tool below as a way to help myself and the leaders I serve keep pulse on the things that matter most and the key focuses that align with their desired future.

A dashboard helps maintain awareness, clarity and alignment.  The tool is flexible so that you can apply all of it or part at any given moment.  While in the coaching partnership there are many exercises I walk clients through that expand and clarify the various elements of the tool, it can still be useful for leaders to use individually.  I recommend working through it fully once to see which parts are most relevant to your life and work.  And then utilize it in these ways that are most impactful to you:

  • At the start of days (weeks) to energize focus for what is ahead and orient yourself to the day
  • At the end of days (weeks) for alignment reflection on maintaining vision, values and priorities
  • In prayer times as an act of surrender and seeking God’s grace and power over each aspect
  • At the end of the month as part of a half-day or full day altitude moment for work and life perspective
  • In mentoring relationships as you seek to support and help others develop


Cultural Entrophy


Cultural Entrophy: A measure of the conflict, friction and frustration in an organization due to potentially limiting values….- Barrett Values Centre

Very intriguing measurement that organizational leaders should pay attention to. These results have been correlated with diminishing returns as entrophy increases, which seems obvious, but the data reinforces it.

You can have a great product, processes, brand in the market, but if cultural entrophy grows unchecked, it will erode the work and results of the organization. Assumption can be a leadership and organizational threat, especially on topics like cultural entrophy. Finding ways to keep an accurate pulse on this is significant. Informal and formal feedback loops are needed.

Effective Empathy

“Empathy is not simply a matter of paying attention to other people. It is also the capacity to take in emotional signals and make them meaningful in a relationship.”

Abraham Zaleznick


The More We Hide, the Less We Grow

Hiding is one of the enemies to growth. Hiding comes about as we try to look smarter than we are, be approved by others, and seem like we have things more together than we do. Insecurity is normally one of the key ingredients that drives us into hiding.

When we choose hiding as a protection strategy, we avoid vulnerability, we miss new experiences, and we don’t ask questions that would accelerate our growth.

Hiding looks safer than it really it is. It works for awhile, but eventually we don’t learn from experiences where we would have been uncomfortably stretched. We don’t make the connections or build the network that would have been established. In the end, we aren’t better off for the hiding. We ultimately lower our trajectory of growth by trading a sense of comfort in the immediate for long-term returns on our personal growth and development.

Hiding Can Appear as:

  • Not asking questions
  • Avoiding a stretching job assignment
  • Not advocating for our own growth
  • Blending into the background for fear of messing up
  • Lowering our risk quotient until its completely manageable
  • Passivity
  • Blaming
  • Failure to strategize personal growth
  • Not investing in one’s own growth
  • Letting fear have the final word
  • Embracing limiting beliefs and statements about self, future, and possibilities

Each one of our lives has purpose and meaning. We have intrinsic value as human beings regardless of our doing. But when we embrace hiding, not only do we create an unhelpful ceiling in our own life and leadership, the world around us misses out on the best version of us.

6 Pathways for Leaving Hiding Behind

  • Take on new and different, stretching assignments at work or in volunteer roles
  • Invest in own growth through planning and proactively seek out learning opportunities or relationships
  • Ask for feedback from helpful sources
  • Work on emotional intelligence by recognizing, reflecting upon, and choosing a response to emotions and connected thoughts
  • Embrace the feeling of being uncomfortable, knowing those moments are connected to high growth possibilities
  • Reframe failure as another step in the process on the way to figuring it out instead of an event that is the final chapter

Living with a growth mindset requires vulnerability, calculated risks, and a curiosity that will lead us to stretch. When we embrace being uncomfortable or not having all the answers, we are choosing to not let insecurity or fear have the final word. In the process, we grow and develop and everyone around us benefits.

12 Questions for Self or Organizational Leadership:

1. What is most energizing to me right now?                                                                                                                          2. Where am I experiencing the most traction?
3. What trend is most important for me to watch?
4. What should I start doing to accomplish my vision?
5. What do I want to optimize?
6. What do I want to further integrate?
7. What do I need to stop doing that is no longer effective?
8. Where do I see the opportunity for innovation?
9. What issue do I most need to address?
10. What habits are giving me the greatest ROI?
11. Who should I invest in?
12. What is required for me to enter the next season of life/leadership well?

Which question is most powerful for you in this season?

What other powerful questions empower a leader/organization?








The best work arises from the engagement of diverse perspectives, backgrounds, experiences, learning and skill-sets coming together to solve challenges.

To solve problems and achieve a collaborative synergy requires clarity on the type of collaboration needed.  Below are four collaborative categories that need to be clarified to protect and optimize the experience for all participants.

1. Follow the Leader

This form of collaboration follows the directives of the leader involved.  The leader assigned to the team guides the process, organizes workflow and troubleshoots obstacles that arise.  This leader may lead from a command and control or diplomatic posture.  What distinguishes this collaboration category is the clear line of authority to the leader and presence of a team.

2. My Turn

This form of collaboration neatly organizes the work into split task at the beginning and has little actual collaboration throughout, focusing on making sure the work is aligned.  In this type of collaboration one person does their part and then hands it to the next person who adds to the project.  The lines of responsibility are extremely clear, and there is no creative collaboration, just mapping the hand-off.  This can involve a leader-follower relationship or two or more peers interacting.  What distinguishes this category is the defining of the work and the task contribution nature.

3. Sounding Board

The sounding board is normally initiated by the person working on the project with someone they trust, respect and perhaps report to.  Sounding board collaboration allows the participant to float ideas and get critical feedback while maintaining control.  This form of collaboration is characterized by initiation of the participant in the project and their choosing what to do with the feedback.

4. Equal Partners

Equal partners results when two individuals or more share full collaboration and coordination for how they shape the process, outcomes, vision and each element along the way.  There is no clear leader, but rather flat, shared leadership.  This category of collaboration relies upon consistent engagement, feedback, and synthesizing of ideas.  It is only possible with high trust environments and most useful when the collective expertise shaping each aspect of the project and various decisions is useful.  This category is characterized by the involvement of the participants in each stage, the synthesizing of ideas and the flat role structured.

Our collaborations are shaped significantly by the environments surrounding the project, timeline, and realities of the organizations in which we work.  A solo entrepreneur’s influencing factors are very different than team leader at a fortune 500 organization.  Yet, similarities transcend environment, and each environment comes with its own challenges that impact effective collaboration.  The bottom line for leaders is to be clear on the form of collaboration best applied to a project, understand the unique challenges in each collaboration category, and engage with other participants in a manner that achieves synergy.