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The Corporate Leadership Council found that two-thirds of high potentials eventually fail.1

This is called derailment: an unexpected—and involuntary—stall on a leader’s career path.

Derailment can happen when promising leaders are pushed too far too fast. A great team builder fizzles in a foreign culture. A creative innovator takes too much risk with a new product. A strong change agent struggles to keep everyone on board.

Unfortunately, too many leaders are asked to lead before they’re ready, willing and able. And when this occurs, many are asked to leave. Some will be able to pick up the pieces and move forward. Others might find their careers permanently derailed.

The challenge for individuals and organizations is to detect derailment risks and decrease them before a high-potential leader is sidelined, demoted, or terminated.

Detecting Your Derailers

Throughout my 20 years of leadership coaching experience, I have observed that how high potentials act and react to situations can sabotage their own success, undermine their credibility, and derail their career.

Why would such smart, capable people act in ways detrimental to their own career?

After working with hundreds of professional men and women, I have found that the most common answer to that question is a lack of self-awareness.  It’s not that these people consciously act in self-defeating patterns of behavior; they simply aren’t aware of how their actions are being perceived by others.

An accurate assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses

is the best antidote to career derailment.

Self-awareness can protect you from becoming overly confident in your capabilities, especially if you already have a strong track record of success.  A lack of self-awareness can cause you to ignore important feedback, deny your shortcomings, resist changing, and, ultimately, derail your career.

Fortunately, you are not doomed to this fate. With the proper assessment and coaching, you can gain self-awareness, challenge and change your existing behaviors, and overcome a damaged reputation.

I want to assure you at the outset that any mistakes that are hindering you from reaching your career goals don’t happen because you’re stupid or incompetent (although others might want to make you think so).  You are simply not consciously aware of all the consequences of your behavior.  That’s why they call it a “blind spot.”  A blind spot is something that is obvious to everyone else, but it’s not obvious to you.  And everyone has some blind spots; so you are not alone.

Accurately Evaluate Your Own Risk

It’s possible to recognize the warning signs before you get off track. With early detection, your own derailment risk can be addressed so that your career stays on course.

As a leadership coach, I have worked with hundreds of clients from a wide variety of organizations. As a result of this experience, I’ve had the opportunity to gain insight into why some people move up quickly and easily in their careers, while others derail, never reaching their full potential.

I’ve created a FREE resource guide that shares some of the most common mistakes I see potential leaders making at work – mistakes which undermine their performance and prevent them from leading at the highest level.

This guide contains 15 of the most common mistakes that potential leaders make at work. Keep in mind, most people don’t make all 15 mistakes – but many do make more than one. I’ve found that the more mistakes you make, the less likely you are to achieve your full career potential.

How to Get Your FREE Copy

You can get a free copy of The 15 Devastating Leadership Derailers by clicking the button below.

1 Corporate Leadership Council (2005). Realizing the full potential of rising talent. Washington, DC: Corporate Executive Board.


I believe you have untapped potential within you. How much farther can you go? How much more impact could you have?

Yes, there are obstacles in your path. Barriers to advancement can be a good thing – they ensure only the best rise to the top. But I can give you the tools you need to overcome those barriers.

Getting promoted to higher levels of leadership (and thriving there) requires navigating 4 very specific transitions, or shifts, necessary for success. The Leadershifts coaching intensive describes each of those transitions in detail and shows you how to master them.

The dozens of tiny moving parts around making these 4 critical shifts has become the “Achilles heel” of many a high-potential leader. You, on the other hand, will have access to a revolutionary road map to success. In this coaching intensive, you’ll discover how to:

  • make 4 specific transitions, or shifts, needed to succeed at higher levels of leadership
  • raise your awareness to eliminate self-defeating patterns of behavior
  • communicate with confidence
  • maintain your composure when things go wrong at work
  • create an optimistic and inspiring vision that moves people forward
  • build trust with a stronger, more supportive network of sponsors and mentors
  • increase your leadership agility so you can adapt your behavior to fit new job requirements


Dr. Stefani Yorges

I am a psychologist and professional leadership coach. I partner with people who want to rise to their full potential so they can have an increasingly greater impact on others.

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