A Publication of WTVP

“He has great technical skills, but can’t seem to motivate the team without burning people out.”

“She is a great person, but I don’t think she has what it takes to succeed at high levels in this organization.”

Do either of these comments resonate with you? As organizations, we frequently promote folks into leadership roles without a great deal of consideration as to whether they have the skills to be successful in those roles. In other words, they may derail if we don’t provide them with the tools needed to make a successful transition.

During a 10-year period from 1991 to 2001, Lore International Institute ( coached more than 6,700 executives from international organizations, and while many experienced rapid success, a sizeable number derailed and were frustrated by the lack of assistance they received. The Lore research revealed that the riskiest time for new leaders is during the first 100 days of a new job or new organization, when one first leads a team, first supervises others, first manages othLEADERSHIPers or moves into the executive ranks of an organization. They have found that one common theme across all of the studies of why smart people stumble in their careers is a lack of interpersonal skills. In addition, some common myths about leaders in new roles are listed below. Have you made these same assumptions?

According to Michael Watkins, author of the book, The First 90 Days (a must-read for any leader) it is a fact that 40 percent of senior-level external hires fail within the first 18 months of their transitions—a mistake which can cost a company as much as 10 times the salary of the executive involved. Leaders who underperform in their new roles often do so because they fall into one or more of the following common traps:

According to Watkins, there are seven principles that should be adopted by leaders to improve the transition and avoid derailment:

  1. Leverage the time before entry
  2. Organize to learn
  3. Secure early wins
  4. Lay the foundation for major improvements
  5. Create a personal vision
  6. Build winning coalitions
  7. Manage yourself

To think all derailment can be prevented is unrealistic. To think that interventions will succeed every time is naïve. But to do nothing as some executives fail in their careers is a mistake. It is a fact that many bright executives leave, are fired or stagnate as much as 66 percent of the time. Executives who are dismissed without attempts to intervene or make clear the reasons for their derailment are winning legal challenges in growing numbers. Organizations who make the effort to address the transition can improve the costs associated with derailment and turnover. iBi