By Patricia Dammann, VP Programs and Operations, IOD


As of late, talent is quickly becoming more and more of a scarce commodity in organizations.  As a result, leadership positions are vacant for way too long which may lead to delayed organization initiatives and perhaps an erosion of a much needed competitive advantage.  There are many reasons for this, and probably as many countermeasures to address these real issues.  However, one area that many organizations fail to address well is how to keep good leaders from derailing their career track.


The most common profile for high-potential leaders who are likely to derail is someone who is smart, driven, and accustomed to pushing through obstacles to meet ambitious goals.  This same hard-driving, risk-taking style that gets leaders noticed for high performance can also cause them to experience problems with their colleagues.  They are more likely to derail if they don’t learn how to show respect for others, listen to their feedback, understand their perspectives and accept their ideas to build relationships and gain commitment.


Other derailment patterns include leaders who have brilliant ideas and solutions but are ineffective in getting their ideas implemented through others; and leaders who get results but alienate peers and direct reports.


There are several steps managers can take to decrease risks for derailment:


  1. Accurately identify high potential leaders in your organization. Those who have high performance and high potential.


  1. Provide clear expectations in terms of valued behaviors.


  1. Provide individuals with specific feedback on how their performance and behaviors (what they do and how they do it) meet expectations.


  1. Make sure rewards such as promotions and bonuses don’t send mixed messages. Reward high potentials for both the results and the methods used to achieve the results.


  1. Ensure that high potentials develop skills for potential future leadership roles.


  1. Coach employees to decrease the risk of derailment and create plans that foster the development of needed skills and behaviors.


  1. Shape high potential development through clear communication and appropriate support.


  1. Reinforce the company values, and teach employees to demonstrate the values of the organization’s culture.


Incorporating these steps into your organization’s processes, systems, and feedback mechanisms will help to build a pipeline of leaders who not only attain organization goals but demonstrate core values and practices that promote respect and inclusion for all.


To learn more about how you can overcome potential leadership derailers and build an effective leadership development strategy, contact IOD for more information at



Patricia Dammann is the VP Programs & Operations and Faculty member at the Institute of OD, offering online certification programs for those interested in Organization Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development and Executive Coaching, and Professional Development skills for ongoing learning.  She can be reached at  For more information about our certification programs and short courses, visit our website


Institute of Organization Development (IOD) offers Leadership Development Certification Programs (LDCP) to help participants learn how to develop effective leadership development strategies to achieve organization goals and advance their career as a Leadership Development Professional. This program provides participants with the tools and skills needed to guide senior leaders to design and implement a best practice Leadership Development Program.  After completing the program, you will gain a certification as a Leadership Development Professional and earn the distinction of LDCP.


The Leadership Development Certification Program (LDCP) is offered online over 8 months, 3 hours per month to advance your career in Leadership Development. Our expert faculty provides interactive discussions, examples, tools, guidelines, and resources to enrich your learning.