Healthcare leaders know all about change. The need to adapt to the rapid pace of change from technological advances, new business models, changes in structure, an ageing population, regulation, cost, access demands and burnout on an individual organizational and industry level is evident. What’s not so evident is if organizations know how to develop the skills and competencies to avoid derailment and succeed in the future.

I have read statistics that say one in every two managers is ineffective, that’s 50%. Problems with interpersonal relationships, inability to effectively lead teams, difficulty in driving change, unable to meet performance goals, a narrow short view can lead to derailment and ultimately failure.

Leadership derailment, a topic not often discussed in the open in healthcare, but certainly one that is not immune to the concept is when leaders fail to reach their expected level of achievement. Often this is because skills and competencies required across leadership levels may differ. For example, a mid-level manager’s strength of executing work is essential for performance and as an individual contributor, however, in a senior leadership position, strategic thinking, succession planning, influencing teams on a broader scale and higher financial acumen may not have been required in the mid-level role and may have been hidden. Therefore, there is no way of knowing whether or not the manager would have succeeded or failed at these competencies because they were not essential for their previous role.

The impact of leadership derailment is big. Aside from the financial burden of the selection process, recruiting, on boarding and training, it can disrupt employee morale and create negative perceptions of the organization.

I personally believe that identifying signs of leadership derailment requires a great amount of self awareness and it also requires leaders to be upfront and honest when giving feedback to their managers. The Center for Creative Leadership lists 5 ways to avoid derailing your career:

Roll with the Changes

Develop your capacity for accepting and adapting to change by creating goals in areas that allow you to take controlled risks; that put you into unfamiliar situations or roles; that require you to bounce back from failures; or that otherwise force you to not rely only on your traditional strengths.

Build Better Teams

Develop your ability to build and lead a team, create goals that put you in a position to lead a work group or large project requiring teamwork.

Deliver Results

Develop and maintain urgency toward delivering results, create goals in areas that require you to coordinate action among other groups and people. Such goals should call for a vision of the future, challenge you to bolster team member engagement, and involve you in making changes that benefit the organization. Consider, for instance, to what extent you drive versus facilitate results.

Develop a Strategic Orientation

Develop a broad, strategic orientation; create goals in areas outside your specific expertise or in areas that require you to sell new ideas to your organization. Try modeling the approach of a leader whom you respect for their ability to influence and get things done.

Strengthen Interpersonal Relationships

Strengthen your current relationships and develop your ability to build new ones, create goals in areas that require you to work with groups outside of your own, that push you to build a leadership network, and that otherwise contain situations in which you must get along with and understand others in order to produce positive results.


  • Michael Leyson, MBA



    The Leyson Report is a Journal focused on Leadership & Innovation Trends in Healthcare. We partner with authentic leaders, solving real problems, offering fresh solutions and focused on integrative leadership capabilities, business innovation, technology and operational excellence to solve the toughest challenges in healthcare.