3 Top Coaching Tips For Derailers: Dutiful


As part of our blog series “3 Top Coaching Tips for Derailers“, we take a look at each of the 11 behavioral traits identified by Hogan’s research that cause leaders to derail and include examples with suggestions to overcome each derailing behavioral trait. This week, we finish the blog series by focusing on the derailing behavior Dutiful.

This characteristic is important to a degree for anyone who is part of an organization. We need employees who will step up to act and be willing to challenge authority when appropriate. It’s when this is at dangerously high levels it leads to a common derailer. I often think about the military as a great example of a dutiful culture by design. Taking orders and not making decisions outside of the orders is essential for success in that organization.

In the for-profit sector, especially in the small to mid-sized organization, dutiful behaviors in leaders are often viewed as defining someone who is indecisive and conforming. They may not take a risk and defend their own team members for the decisions they make when called into question.


The leader should continue: Keeping your boss informed about relevant business developments and opportunities.

The leader should stop: Checking with others before making decisions.

The leader should begin:

  • Stopping your direct reports in their decisions
  • Defending their direct reports when they need it
  • Sharing your beliefs when you are asked to offer an opinion

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.

Download coaching tips for all 11 comomon derailing behaviors in one report. Continue to refer to these tips to assist you or your leaders in achieving career success.

Coaching Tips for Derailers

The Introverted Leader

cps leadership performance enhancementA colleague of mine, Jennifer Kahnweiler, wrote the book, “The Introverted Leader,” which offers advice and tips on how introverted leaders can use their strengths to excel and fill in critical gaps to their success.

In my 20+ years advising senior leaders, I remember two executives (both CEOs as CHRO) in particular who were introverts and successful in their own ways. One was a stereotypical brilliant leader who lacked social connectivity. His leadership was based on his expertise and position of power along with his business acumen. That is what he used to lead others.

The other CEO developed the behaviors needed to inspire and motivate others and could display these in front of employees, analysts, customers, etc.  He would come out of his office with his “game face” on and was able to inspire with referent power. His strengths also included his strong ambition, analytical abilities, business acumen, and values.

What I learned through these experiences early in my career is that you are who you are. Being a successful leader is about understanding your strengths to leverage and identifying those areas that get in the way of your effectiveness. It’s important to continuously seek feedback and/or receive executive coaching for sustained leadership performance enhancement. If you don’t have a network in place that is providing you feedback on your leadership and to help you identify blind spots, then you run the risk of failing to address critical factors necessary for your success.

How Do You Prevent An Executive From Derailing?


It is disconcerting to read about the recent wave of executive leadership failure which are in areas that are not directly related to their performance. These types of failures have to do with policy, moral or ethical violations.
One of the most famous cases was Bill Clinton who showed remarkably poor judgment getting involved with an intern. He’s not alone, though, several other politicians and public servants including Eliot Spitzer, Mark Sanford, and John Edwards have made bad moral decisions which cost them their jobs and ended their political career.

In the for-profit arena, Mark Hurd (Former HP CEO) was one of the most recent public company failures for improper conduct. Brian Dunn (former Best Buy CEO) was terminated for having an affair. Christopher Kubasik (Former Lockheed Martin CEO) and General Petraeus (Former CIA Director) resigned for sexual improprieties. To say these could have been prevented is an understatement.

It is very important for senior leaders to have someone they trust and who serves as an objective and unbiased executive leadership advisor whose is responsible for pointing out the risks of these types of derailing behaviors. It is lonely at the top and very few people inside the organization will speak up and criticize the boss, especially when the leader may not be approachable or “open” to criticism.

Having a trusted and confidential executive leadership coach and being accountable to someone else can help prevent such lapses in judgment and save the leader, company, shareholders and the country a lot of pain and anguish. After all, as CEO or senior leader you have too much to risk when discussing issues with the Board or any other person who has a fiduciary responsibility to the company. I can’t help but wonder if more of these lapses occur and are just not revealed. For example, Brian Dunn’s fall from grace happened after a tweet was sent mistakenly setting off a chain reaction.

If you are a senior leader and do not have an outlet to discuss leadership issues and opportunities then you are at risk for not being effective and worse, losing your job. Ask your HR department or a peer CEO for suggestions on executive leadership coaches you might contact as a third-party resource to assist you. It is a complex job and it is not a sign of weakness to get some outside confidential help.

Prevent Executive Failure