Many leaders start to exhibit derailing behaviors when faced with stress. These particular behaviors may have helped them succeed in the past and have been reinforced over time as acceptable for their careers. Stress may be caused by excessive workloads, goals difficulty, tight timelines, poor team performance and more obstacles that could cause a leader to believe he or she may fail. Hogan has identified 11 traits that all leaders possess. Their research has shown when these are over-used during stressful conditions derailing behaviors occur.
As part of our new blog series “3 Top Coaching Tips for Derailers”, we will take a look at each of the 11 behavioral traits identified by Hogan and include examples with suggestions to overcome each derailing behavior.
I was coaching a senior leader who was a President at the time running a very large manufacturing facility producing consumer products. In his case, when I interviewed his team to collect confidential information about his leadership style he was described as “running hot and cold” on ideas and people. He would start something and put a lot of energy and time into getting it going and then seemingly lose interest and start something else. An often cited example was that he felt the parking lot car spacing lines had to be painted a certain way in dimensions and his team disagreed and also wondered why he was so involved in something like that vs. bigger picture issues and opportunities.
When coaching the President, who expressed frustration over not being able to get his team behind initiatives, he told me that when faced with resistance (often) he would just back off and quit pushing something. So, he was caught in this leadership dilemma of seemingly not able to get his team to follow his direction on all his new ideas. The team perceived him as having all these ideas that were good for a few weeks, so if they waited and did nothing, it would blow over and another idea would come their way from the President. This pattern had been repeated many times over the years. Once this was discovered by the President he realized what he had been doing and we changed his approach to motivating his team on key initiatives. When the President’s assessment results became available he had scored in the High Risk area for Excitable.
He was a perfect example of the excitable derailer; someone who ranges from emotional calmness to being moody, hard to please, and with a tendency to show emotional ups and downs.
COACHING TIPS FOR EXCITABLE DERAILERS
The leader should continue: Acting with passion, energy and enthusiasm
The leader should stop: Losing emotional control and yelling at everyone
The leader should begin:
- Analyzing upsetting situations to understand triggers
- Recognizing signs of an impending loss of control
- Leaving the situation, taking a “time out”
- Moderating your initial enthusiasm about people and projects to avoid being discouraged later
- Avoiding defeatist thinking when you encounter problems
- Making sure good implementers are on the team for when your excitement wears off
Leaders can be assessed using the Hogan suite of assessments which are very helpful to leaders by increasing their self-awareness and gaining a better understanding of why they are not getting the results required in their roles.
Look for our blog series to continue in the next few weeks with coaching tips for the other derailing behaviors identified by Hogan.