Rajeshwar Upadhyaya, Editor-in-Chief, The Leadership Review

Rajeshwar Upadhyaya, Editor-in-Chief, The Leadership Review

July 8, 2015

Getting to leadership positions is hard enough. Maintaining leadership is tougher as the  new context demands different behaviours; often the ones you have used to become successful need to be discarded.

A  sloka from Chanakyaniti , blames excess pride, entitlement, and charity as the cause of derailment for the kingdom of Lanka, the clan of Kauravas, and the great king Vali. Ati is the Sanskrit word for ‘excess’ and interestingly finds resonance in the Greek idea of hubris and shares a boundary wall with Hamartia (fatal flaw).

I looked at the archetype of derailment triggered by Hamartia. I have observed an operating template in those that are headed to  derailment in many a cases and have tried to capture the archetype briefly in an article.  Then there is Ed Cohen’s article that borrows from years of his research to flash out top eight reasons for leadership derailment. Dr Sujaya Banerjee in her article provides a practitioner’s perspective on why leaders fail and what organisation can do to safeguard themselves against leadership failure. Prof. Ashutosh Bhupatkar’s article on ‘leadership tracker’, which also is a psychometric instrument, is a perceptively constructed one.

While these articles look at the theory of leadership failure, we have another set of stories dedicated to state, organisational, and individual failure. Bestselling author, Sangita Malhan, talked to people who have seen the decline of The Statesman newspaper from close quarters to write a compelling piece. Ambika Vishwanath, while explaining the failings of many middle-eastern states, provide with a grid encompassing reasons for state failures. And while we are still talking about state, Prof. Sanjay Ranade’s column provides a brilliant counter to the grand narrative of the state and highlight its failings in India. Then there are stories detailing fall from the top of Lalit Modi, Rajesh Khanna, and the sport of hockey in India. And there is more – columns, classics, movies, and reading lists.

I believe any meaningful conversation about leadership cannot not be complemented by its own shadow side. The literature on derailment is not pervasive enough to make it a central to the leadership dialogue. There is some hesitancy in having confrontational conversations on the theme with talented individual who are headed there. And how better can one learn that but from the examples of others. Here  is a bouquet of narratives with which we  chose to curate our first mega issue around the theme of leadership derailment.