Over the last few days, the Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia dominated the news. Our prayers go out to those injured in the crash and to the families of those who died in this tragic accident. The NTSB continues its investigation into the causes. The train engineer hired lawyers, is not commenting and said through his attorney that he does not remember the derailment. We do know that the train was traveling 106 mph in a 50 mph zone.
Derailment has become a metaphor for those leaders who go down a terrible path of personal destruction. Just as the Philadelphia train engineer claimed not to know what was going on at the time of the accident, my research indicates that lack of self-awareness is a common denominator among leaders who derail. They also ignore the warning signals of their impending doom. Did the engineer know he was in a 50 mph zone approaching a sharp curve? He should have. It will be of great interest to all of us if a personal derailment on the part of the engineer contributed to the actual derailment of the New York bound train.
Here are remedies I recommend to leaders to guard against derailment:
- Cultivate self-awareness…know and leverage your strengths and mitigate your vulnerabilities.
- While arrogance is the mother of all derailers, humility is the mother of safeguards.
- Pay attention to feedback…a lot of derailing leaders are “truth-starved.”
- Guard against rationalization of your behavior. “Rational lies” breach the core of who we are and set us up for acting on false beliefs.
- Be sure you’re accountable to someone who will ask you the tough questions.
If you have not seen the very short video on my website, it begins with stories about some leaders who derailed and amplifies some of the points above: www.drtimirwin.com
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© Copyright 2015. Dr. Tim Irwin and Irwin Inc, LLC. All rights reserved.