Dr. Tim Irwin




Is Hillary Clinton at Risk for Derailment?

Cara Gaskins - Tuesday, September 01, 2015

While I am not a political pundit, I am a student of leadership. Political leaders offer us insight into the forces that affect leaders in any organization.

In my research (detailed in DeRailed, Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership), I observed five distinct phases of when a leader derails:

  1. Lack of Self-awareness.
  2. Arrogance…and a dismissive attitude.
  3. Missed warning signals.
  4. Rationalization. Rationalize is best viewed as “rational lies.
  5. Derailment.

Polls over the last few weeks indicate a growing distrust of Hillary Clinton as voters question whether she has been forthcoming about her private email server and thousands of emails she deleted. Are we watching a real time derailment of Hillary Clinton in her bid for the US presidency?  What do you think? Are there other presidential candidates in either major party you think are at risk for derailment? Any candidate who reaches stage 4 should be concerned, as my research indicates that it is often a point of no return.

Regardless of our political persuasion, we should learn from any leader’s challenges. How can we avoid derailment in our own careers?

  1. Cultivate self-awareness…be intentional in leveraging your strengths and mitigating your vulnerabilities. Leaders are sometimes truth-starved. Be sure you have others in your life who will give you direct feedback.
  2. Arrogance is the mother of all derailers…Humility is the mother of all safeguards. Be sure to value the contribution of others and be careful to not inflate your own contributions.
  3. Most leaders who derail have ample warning signs…they just ignore them…stay alert.
  4. Listen to your self-talk and pay particular attention to working too hard to justify your behavior. Put your beliefs to the test…arrest the false ones.
  5. Stay on track—make an impact with your life.

© Copyright 2015. Dr. Tim Irwin and Irwin Inc, LLC. All rights reserved.

Marty commented on 01-Sep-2015 11:31 AM
I see the likelihood of derailment when people are able to see past the fa├žade. However in our current culture there are enough people who are more concerned with their personal ideology than they are with character that they will likely look past the failure of an individual in order to get what they want. While there should naturally be a derailment there may be enough people who will lean their shoulder into keeping the train on the track that the failure does not happen when it would cause the least amount of damage. The derailment might not come at all or when it happens many more people are damaged than if the original derailment would have been allowed to occur.

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