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Irrespective of the number of levels in the hierarchy, the organisational pyramid is a tough climb ! As a coach I see people at different stages of their career. Some are on their way up, others are hitting a plateau while yet others are on the downturn. What are the characteristics peculiar to people in each of these categories of executives?


People often speak of “Career derailment”. This means your career going for a toss due to your personal and professional adequacies.

Here is my list of 7 Signs of Slipping – characteristics of Those on the Downturn:

  1. Being complacent: It’s very easy to become complacent, especially when things are going well.. The business, the economy, the products, the team: all of these can hide your inadequacies for some time. Complacency makes you over estimate your capabilities and underestimate the threats around you. All in all, complacency is bad news!
  2. Lack of energy: Possibly due to complacency, we lead the good life and before you know what is happening, you tend to lose the energy and drive you bring to the job. This results in a slower pace and people around you pick up cues from you. There is a marked slowing down of activity. Energy is spent on low priority activities.
  3. Used to the comfort zone: Business as usual is the name of the game. We like to deal with the same products, the same people, the same markets. In short, everything we are comfortable with. New ideas are promptly shot down. New initiatives are discouraged. We don’t want any one to rock the boat. We are unwilling to experiment.
  4. Stop learning: The trip down the slope starts the moment you stop learning. Irrespective of your age, position in the hierarchy or your job title, it is essential for you to learn and keep learning, all the time.
  5. Not developing others: This hits you when you don’t have people with enough competence around you. The bench strength is weak. There is no one capable of helping you at this juncture because they lack exposure which you have never given them. As a result, in a crisis you have to take all the strain, which breaks you.
  6. Not future oriented: You are living on past laurels. You are not visualizing the rapid changes that will take place around you. being past oriented and using your experience helps to a point but does not prepare you for an unpredictable future. You have no idea of possible trends, new waves, and current interests of consumers and employees.
  7. Last guy to Know: A sure sign of slippage is when you are the last guy to know. The signs are clear, to all except you, that you are being side-lined if not totally ignored. People will keep you informed, if at all, of the unimportant points. You are no longer in the know.

Reading this list should send off warning signals in your mind – if some of these points apply to you. If you see some in yourself, the time to correct them is-now!

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This is the 101 st of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.

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