Verax International Ltd

Verax May Information Brief


“Mad, bad and dangerous to hire” was Adrian Furnham’s headline in last week’s Sunday Times.


Furnham was exploring the reasons for leadership derailment. Putting aside incompetence i.e. someone who was over-promoted, where do you find the other examples?


Furnham claims that they are often in the “talent group”. But shooting stars soon fall to earth. Leadership derailment is relatively common, with over 30% of managers in some industry sectors showing signs of derailment.


The first signs show in their ability to initiate and maintain good, healthy relationships.  You need socially skilled, emotionally intelligent managers who understand the value of friends, relationships and a support group.


Those on the derailment path may show initial signs of charm. They can’t sustain relationships and often leave a trail of emotional destruction behind (bamboozling, denigrating, hoodwinking and lying to others).


Some are totally caught up in themselves. They demand adulation but don’t reciprocate.


The next group live in a fantasy world, are arrogant, not self-aware, over-estimate their strengths and under-estimate their weaknesses, more so than the general population.


Then there are those who are not adaptable and flexible. They may have been successful once but refuse to do things in other ways even when the “tried and tested” ways stopped working. This is akin to Toffler’s “Future Shock”.


You can probably think of examples of these in you own organisation. You may suspect that others fall into at least one of these categories.


What to do? First, save yourselves lots of money and time by making sure you don’t recruit anyone showing any of these characteristics. Verax PEP-Select picks up explicitly on these de-railers.


With those already on board, some aspects e.g. self awareness, adaptability and flexibility can be developed. The Verax Personal Effectiveness Profile (PEP) will identify precisely what an individual needs to do (attitudinally and behaviourally) to overcome these problems.


Those pathological cases who destroy relationships (again PEP will identify) are best kept away from staff. If they must stay in the organisation, find them an individual contributor role rather than a management position. They don’t just destroy themselves, they harm others too.


Dotlich & Cairo researched the same phenomenon in publicly quoted companies in the USA and came to very similar conclusions. They identified 11 leadership de-railers, all of which are variations on those above. They claim that these leadership de-railers are directly responsible for the demise of many well known companies. They too claim that these characteristics are relatively common.


Leadership de-railers usually have little to do with the experience or expertise of the individual. They are likely to be found in their personal rather than managerial characteristics.






Ref. “Sunday Times” 19 May 2013. Adrian Furnham is Professor of Psychology at University College, London

Dotlich & Cairo “Why CEOs Fail”  Wiley (2003)

Toffler A “Future Shock” Josey Bass (1989)

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