career crisis

Is Your Career at Risk for Derailing?

Is your career at risk for derailing? Not a question we like to think much about, however, it might be better to take a moment and examine the risk factors rather than stick your head in the sand and hope that it is not happening to you!


I was recently reading through my journals from my tenure at Eli Lilly and Company. To this day, I treasure and value my time there.

While reading and reflecting on what I had written, the question that is the title for this article popped into my mind. Was there ever a time that my career was at risk for derailing?

The question caused me pause because:

  • I worked hard
  • I was ethical
  • I was competent
  • I had received good and in some years outstanding performance reviews

Why would I ever need to think about my career coming off track when things seem so good?

No one likes to dwell on the negative. However, if there are early warning signs it is a good idea to pay attention to them.

Planning is much easier when things are going well rather than waiting to feel the stress when you are in trouble.

5 Reasons Careers Derail

In 2013, the Center for Executive Education published a list of five career derailers for leaders:

  1. Failure to Meet Business Objectives
  2. Inability to Change or Adapt During Transition
  3. Problems with Interpersonal Relationships
  4. Failure to Build and Lead a Team
  5. Failure to Make the Supervisors' or Organization's Priority a Priority of Theirs

This list is a post-mortem of the most popular reasons that careers have derailed. You do not want to be looking at this list and saying to yourself, "Yes, that is what happened to me. If I had only seen it coming so I could have done something about it."

This list describes why careers derail, but leaders need insight into how this happens.

Emotional Intelligence

From my own personal experience, and the experiences I have had over the last 10 years in working in the leader development space, a key common denominator is: EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE.

A lack of Emotional Intelligence can be a derailer, and if used skillfully a possible antidote.

I have created a tool for reflection that will help you understand how a lack of emotional intelligence can be responsible for these common career derailers, and, as a result, prevent your career from derailing.

CLICK HERE for a free download.

I would love to know what you think of this chart. Do you feel like it is accurate in your organization? Would you add any derailers to this list? Have you noticed any antidotes or development ideas that you would be willing to share with others? If so please let us know by commenting on the blog below.

If you feel like your career is derailing and you want some help thinking it through, I would be happy to help you. As a part of my leadership coaching, I offer a free 30-minute consultation.

For more information email me at