Article: Hired for Competencies & Fired for Personality: Abhijit Bhaduri

Strategic HR

Hired for Competencies & Fired for Personality: Abhijit Bhaduri

When the leader's strengths cross a certain limit, they become derailers and can deeply impact their chances of success
Hired for Competencies & Fired for Personality: Abhijit Bhaduri

A derailer will show up whenever we are not actively managing our public image


At leadership levels, people have to swiftly respond to complex scenarios and their actions have a strong impact on the company's culture


How often have we come across a leader who is competent but has some “fatal flaws” that derail him or her from achieving greatness? The Greeks call them hamartia. These flaws are the leader’s strengths that have been over used. For example, we all admire leaders who are confident. But when the leader’s confidence crosses a certain limit, it becomes arrogance. That derailer is a performance risk that interferes with a person’s ability to build relationships with others and create good cohesive teams.

We all have a few derailers. These derailers will show up when a person is not actively managing his public image. The common occasions when a derailer shows up could be while multi-tasking or in situations of high stress or change, or when a person is overworked and lets down his guard. Think of the times when someone cracks a joke that is completely inappropriate even though he is among friends. That is because a derailer will show up whenever we are not actively managing our public image.

All of us need to manage a few of these 11 derailers. For people in leadership roles, these can deeply impact their chances of success.

1. Approval Dependent: Leaders need to carry the organisation along when they take decisions. This strength becomes a derailer when they seek and need constant praise or reassurance from others, particularly from people higher in the company.

2. Argumentative: Being able to argue and check the flaws in the argument is a strength which when overused can be a flaw. It makes the leader suspicious, deeply focused on protecting his own interests, and likely to resist coaching and feedback.

3. Arrogant: Being overly self-assured or confident, resulting in poor listening and/or dismissal of feedback from others.

4. Attention Seeking: A leader could be gregarious, charming and persuasive. When a person becomes excessively so, it can result in becoming melodramatic and self-promoting.

5. Avoidant: The leaders need to be pleasant and cooperative. When this strength is overused, a person tends to be preoccupied with his own agenda and may prefer to address issues covertly (avoiding more direct solutions), thus being perceived as a procrastinator, manipulative, or even stubborn.

6. Eccentric: Being creative and thinking of solutions that are out of the box is strength. When overused, it makes the person different from others, perhaps to the point of being unorthodox or even odd.

7. Imperceptive: When a leader is excessively focused, they may miss others’ cues. Such imperceptive people are not naturally inclined to read others´ behaviour, intent and motivations.

8. Impulsive: Risk taking when taken to an extreme makes a person impulsive. Such leaders are impatient, unpredictable and inclined to act before considering the consequences of actions.

9. Perfectionistic: Having an eye for detail is strength. Taken to an extreme, it is a derailer. It makes a leader become a micro-manager.

10. Risk Averse: There is a lot at stake based on a leader’s decision. They need to be cautious. In an extreme scenario, it makes a person indecisive, too deliberate, or reluctant to take unusual or unconventional actions due to overemphasis on the prospect of failure.

11. Volatile: Being passionate when taken to an extreme is a derailer. Volatile leaders have difficulty controlling their emotions and are perhaps moody and quick to erupt in anger.

At leadership levels, there is less time to take decisions. People have to respond to complex and ambiguous scenarios. So their personality comes through all the time. Their actions have a strong impact on the culture of the organisation.

Leaders get Hired for Competencies and Fired for Personality. Make sure while hiring leaders you assess what matters.

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Topics: Strategic HR, C-Suite, Performance Management, Talent Acquisition, #BestPractices, #ExpertViews

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