Is Your Organization Headed for a Breakdown? Your Organization Headed for a Breakdown?
Business Breakdown

Is your organization or team headed for a breakdown?

Organizations emit warning signs before breaking down, but the financial signals, such as revenue declines, shrinking margins, and deteriorating working capital ratios, are lagging indicators. Leading indicators are much more important because you can address them before the financials go south. Using our triple crown leadership framework, here are 20 indicators of organizational breakdowns:

  1. Focusing too much on strategy shifts instead of accountability for results
  2. Creeping complacency
  3. Cutting ethical corners when the pressure is on
  4. Not building ethics into day-to-day processes and decisions
  5. Falling prey to short-termism
  6. Neglecting integrity, passion for the purpose, and emotional intelligence in talent selection and promotions
  7. Failing to invest adequately in developing leaders with character
  8. Not seeking input from everybody in the organization regarding the shared purpose, values, and vision
  9. Failing to inculcate values into daily decisions
  10. Leaders staying in their comfort zones and not flexing between the hard and soft edges of leadership (between “steel and velvet”)
  11. Excessively tight controls
  12. Leaders being too soft because they want to be liked
  13. Excessive deference to the top authorities
  14. Leaders assuming they must make all the decisions and have all the answers
  15. Failing to unleash other leaders throughout the organization
  16. Reluctance to be a “voice of one” and challenge authority
  17. Constantly changing priorities
  18. Poor communication and secrecy with people operating in silos
  19. Insufficient understanding of how efforts across the enterprise fit together
  20. Lack of discipline and follow-through

Leadership Derailers Assessment

Take this assessment to identify what’s inhibiting your leadership effectiveness. It will help you develop self-awareness and identify ways to improve your leadership.


Triple crown leadership sometimes entails constructively challenging people to do what they think is impossible. Often they produce astonishing results.

When the challenge is to make the numbers short- and long-term, and to do it ethically, while operating sustainably and honoring obligations to all stakeholders (what we call “triple crown leadership“–building excellent, ethical, and enduring organizations), that is when people really dig in and find a better way, a new way, and refuse to settle for the easy way out.

Triple crown leaders find a better way.


Practical Applications

  1. Evaluate your organization or team using the 20 indicators above.
  2. If you answer 4 or more with negative responses, your organization may be headed for a breakdown. It’s time to implement the five advanced practices of triple crown leadership.


Tools for You

Alignment Scorecard

When organizations aren’t aligned, it can reduce performance dramatically and cause frustration and dysfunction. With this Alignment Scorecard, you can assess your organization’s level of alignment and make plans for improving it.


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Gregg Vanourek and Bob Vanourek are leadership practitioners, teachers, and award-winning authors (and son and father). They are co-authors of Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, a winner of the International Book Awards. Check out their Leadership Derailers Assessment or get their monthly newsletter. If you found value in this, please forward it to a friend. Every little bit helps! Your Organization Headed for a Breakdown?