Dealing with derailers: Why development has never been more important

2 minute read



It can be puzzling when a newly-hired corporate leader fails to work out. A person may have all the necessary skills and abilities on paper, but once they’re fully in the mix of a new company culture, the story often changes for the worse.

Leadership development for talent often eludes recruiters and managers. That’s because leaders, like all of us, possess derailing qualities — those personality factors that drag down professional performance and create more discord than harmony, if not quickly identified and corrected.

Given that these ‘dark side’ personality traits are part of the human condition, organisations must foster self-awareness and personal growth in order to succeed. In this blog, we discuss why derailers demand our attention, and what to do about them. 


What happens when great strengths become damaging weaknesses

It’s tempting to think of dark side traits simply as the unattractive qualities we easily spot in people (and that inform our snap judgements). But it is trickier than that: dark side features can also be seen as overused strengths we lean on when under pressure.

Scepticism, for example, might be useful for evaluating new information and ideas, but in the extreme could lead to rigidity and a closed mind. Assertiveness might ‘get things done’, but can quickly turn into insensitivity that pushes colleagues away. 

Because the ‘dark side’ of our personalities are linked to our good characteristics, it would help if we were able to look inward, notice derailers springing up, and change course. It’s essential to know the difference between normally expressing our strengths and riding on them too much, to the detriment of work and relationships.


How to avoid setting off your co-workers

When personalities are not fully in sync, dealing with others in the workplace, especially superiors, can be like walking on ice. We can feel it's impossible to please a certain colleague or boss when our usual efforts are riddled with bad feelings on both ends.

But if you know about derailers, and how deeply woven into our personalities they are, you have a huge advantage in dealing with workplace relationships. You can observe the unique pattern of dark side traits in your boss and adjust your own behaviour accordingly.

In the words of Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, CEO of Hogan Assessments, ‘Figure out who they are, what they want, and why they behave the way they do.’

Tackling persistent derailers takes more than just performance reviews and reassignment of projects. In fact, it's dangerous to leave self-awareness and ‘fitting in’ to a workplace culture up to an unstructured, on-the-job learning process. Leadership positions come with few guardrails, allowing the dark side to flourish and hurt company-wide innovation and growth. 

With our understanding of this, Winsborough take a scientific, holistic approach to assessing personality, identifying critical derailers and developing individuals beyond them. 

Winsborough also provides a full array of tools and technologies to help companies raise up astute, thoughtful leaders. Because every organisation is unique, we take an exhaustive look at our clients’ needs and challenges to recommend the right starting point for success.


Looking to enhance the performance of your executive roster and your best talent? Talk to us today.