Book Review – “Derailed: Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership”

51OpwCaaGvL._SL160_Derailed: Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership is one of the best books that I have read in a long time.  We are living in an age of highly publicized failures of leadership.  These failures run the gamut of business, political, religious and sports leaders.  Like seeing a train wreck we are tempted to gaze upon the carnage with a morbid fascination.  Irwin, however, takes us beyond this morbid fascination and brings us to an examination of self so as to avoid failure in our own lives.

Irwin is an expert in leadership development and organizational effectiveness.  He consults with numerous top companies in the U.S.  He is a licensed psychologist who teaches adjunctly at the University of Georgia and at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando.

In this book Irwin examines the failures of leadership at Home Depot, Hewlett-Packard, Proctor & Gamble, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Fannie Mae and Lehman Brothers.  From these 6 examples and others, Irwin gets to the heart of what causes a crisis of leadership.  At the heart of the five lessons, is a failure of character.  Derailment is defined as being off the rails and unable to proceed on our intended path.

When we hear about a failure of character, we usually think of sexual improprieties.  However our character is much more than our sexual ethic.

Not only does Irwin get to the heart of the matter, he offers a clear path to avoid the character flaws that cause leadership failure.  Whether you lead a large organization, a few employees, a family or just yourself, you should read this book.  You will be challenged to be a better leader.

The 5 Lessons are:

  1. Character trumps competence.
  2. Arrogance is the mother of all derailers.
  3. Lack of self-/other- awareness is a common denominator of all derailers.
  4. We are always who we are…especially under stress.
  5. Derailment is not inevitable, but without attention to development it is probable.

Irwin offers 5 heart habits to cultivate to avoid derailment.  It is not just a glimpse into train wrecks.  It is a plan for staying on our path.  I would encourage all of my pastor friends, business friends and anybody else to get a copy of this book.  Do not just read it.  Absorb it.  Click on the book image at the top of the post to get your copy.

Disclaimer: This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson and I am a member of Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger program.  I am under no obligation to make the review favorable.