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.

10 Principles for Business as Mission from Lausanne Committee

  1. Strives to be profitable and sustainable in the long term
  2. Strives for excellence, operates with integrity, has a system of accountability
  3. Has a business motivation, purpose and plan that is shared and embraced by the senior management and owners
  4. Aims at holistic transformation of individuals and communities
  5. Seeks the holistic welfare of employees
  6. Seeks to maximize the kingdom impact of its financial and non-financial resources
  7. Models Christ-like servant leadership and develops it in others
  8. Intentionally implements Christ honoring practices that does not conflict with the gospel
  9. Is pro-active in intercession and seeks the prayer support of others
  10. Seeks to harness the power of networking with like-minded organizations

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


Servant-Leaders as Mentors

Mentoring relationships can energize, empower, and catalyze both the mentor and the mentee towards their full potential.

One of my readings for an MBA class was Personal and Organizational Excellence through Servant Leadership, by Sen Sendjaya.  Speaking of the transformational presence of servant-leaders, Sendjaya defines mentoring  as “an interpersonal relationship where a mentor guides others who are inexperienced or less senior to them to achieve personal and professional goals.”

The author then goes on to define how servant-leaders impact others through the mentoring relationship dynamics.

Leaders serve others as mentors by:

  1. “Becoming good students of their individual followers, seeking to understand their needs
  2. Disciplining themselves to listen attentively to their aspirations and dreams rather than opening their mouth at every opportunity to advertise their stream of consciousness
  3. Being willing to have their lives complicated by the struggles of their followers without impatience or complaint
  4. Intensively asking thoughtful questions to push them beyond their boundaries
  5. Challenging and clarify their preconceived notion of their personal values and beliefs.”

As you continue to mentor other leaders or consider the possibility, keep the Being, Knowing, Doing model in mind.

The being, knowing, doing framework helps us consider the whole person as we come alongside another leader, addressing their:

  • Character & Recognition of full dimensions of their humanity (i.e. Emotions)
  • Mental Paradigms
  • Competency Development

By coming alongside other leaders in a mentoring relationship with the motivation of serving and blessing, we are able to help purposefully help them cultivate the fullness and uniqueness of who they are for their life vocation, roles and responsibilities.


Questions for reflection and action:

  • Who comes to your mind as you read this post?  Why?
  • What are the names of the younger leaders who you see their potential?
  • What could it look like to integrate each aspect of Being, Knowing, Doing?
  • What would you let keep you from crossing comfort zones and mentoring younger leaders?
  • What do you or would you enjoy the most from a mentoring relationship?


Sen Sendjaya. (2015).  Personal and Organizational Excellence through Servant Leadership.

*While it has excellent content, it was an academic read, so keep your learning drivers in mind if you decided to pick it up.