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Prevea Health

Why leaders are more likely to derail


Marathon meetings. Personality conflicts among employees. Never-ending deadlines. And let’s not forget daily decision-making that touches a large number of people – particularly customers and/or employees. The life of a leader is filled with high levels of stress. And really, it’s no wonder every leader, no matter what industry, is at risk for derailment.

Derailment occurs when we lose focus and self-control and let our less-than-positive traits surface in the face of stress. When this happens, we are prone to making poor decisions, being short with our peers and becoming less productive. We’ve all been witness to it, either as the derailing leader or the employee on the receiving end. Unfortunately, because leaders deal with high levels of stress, they are likely to derail UNLESS they are self-aware.

Where should one begin? Leadership assessment tools can help us identify personality qualities that can lead to derailment. In essence, these tools provide scientific feedback on one’s personality. From there, triggers can be identified and, equally important, ways to manage derailment tendencies.

Here are some simple reminders to bring down the gauge on one’s “stress-o-meter:”
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get sufficient sleep
  • Exercise regularly
  • Practice other forms of self-care.
Leaders often feel obligated to work long hours, which creates time constraints that can make it difficult to consistently practice these.

You don’t have to move a mountain to make a change. Do what you know works for you or try something new, such as practicing two minutes of mediation in the morning or at the end of the day. Practice the meditations for a minute before you go into work, as you sit in your car or before you walk into your house at the end of the day.

In between meetings, put on your athletic shoes and take a walk, even if it’s just a 15-minute walk around the parking lot. Keep a stash of healthy items that don’t require refrigeration, like granola bars, nuts and such, in your desk for an easy energy boost.

And finally, since most people don’t have access to a leadership development coach, make sure you have someone you trust – be it a co-worker, a friend or mentor – who lets you know when you’re starting to derail, because the sooner you can catch it, the better it will be for you and your team.

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