Pressurised leaders are at increased risk of exhibiting extreme behaviour

A white paper from people assessment company, Talent Q, which has researched over 14,000 UK employees, has shown that as the economic squeeze continues, ‘executive derailment’ is a growing phenomena and likelihood.  As individuals face increasing pressure to achieve more with less, underlying personality characteristics come to the fore, with the potential to create havoc in organisations.

Dr Alan Bourne, director of Talent Q, said: “Extreme behaviour, such as narcissism or micro-management, can commonly be witnessed when the going gets tough in organisations.  It’s a consequence of leaders having quickly progressed up the ladder based on their key strengths, without developing a wider repertoire to sustain them through the more challenging times. ”

Talent Q’s research has shown that the potential for derailment varies across functions, for example:

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While some of these results are unsurprising, they have significant implications for organisations, especially when the derailment leads to a missed deadline, lost orders or a demotivated workforce. 

“Organisations should ensure that, derailment risks are considered when considering selecting leaders.  Once identified, they can be mitigated through coaching and personal development,” concludes Dr Bourne.

The research didn’t indicate any correlation between age and the likelihood of derailment, however it did show that men are more likely than women to be over-confident and that women are more prone to hyper-sensitivity and over-dependence during times of increased workplace stress.


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