While it’s rare that a single blunder could kill a career, there are a few behaviors that, over time, might get you donated back to the industry. Typically, these occurrences involve employees who ignore, or are never made aware of, a fatal flaw in their leadership style. Examples of such career derailers are abundant and include:
- The salesperson who hits the numbers, but tramples the internal team along the way
- The functional leader who manages his/her boss well, but destroys engagement with peers and direct reports by taking credit for their work and creating a hellish workplace environment
- The executive who professes a people first philosophy, then makes decisions that clearly run counter to that claim
These are slow death mistakes that can wreak havoc on an organization if left unchecked. Luckily, they are correctable if caught. The offender just needs to posses an underlying humility to accept his/her flaws and a willingness to learn from the past and change course.
Career cliff jumps on the other hand come from breaking rules, fudging ethics, or overpromising key customers then failing to deliver. There’s nothing much to do in these cases except expeditiously deal with the parties and then enhance HR policies and practices to help prevent a reoccurrence.
In rare occasions you may find yourself on the chopping block for political reasons. In some instances this could stem from calling out an influential party who demonstrates some of the behaviors noted above. In others, it results from overt retaliation. Hopefully you work in an organization that would tolerate neither. But if you do, fear not. Leaders value their integrity above all. Better to be fired from Enron than be an employed yes man….
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