Derailed: Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership by Tim Irwin

Derailed: Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership

Takeaway: Derailed is a decent business book on Character.  I support the idea of Nelson Free (buy a hardback, get the ebook and audiobook free) but in this case the audiobook isn’t that great.

Purchase Links: Hardback, Kindle Edition, (don’t buy the audiobook)

I am a fan of Thomas Nelson publishers and its CEO, Michael Hyatt.  I am a frequent reader of his blog and because I read his blog regularly, I have been the recipient of several of his book giveaways.

One of the features I most like about Thomas Nelson is their innovation around publishing.  I know of no other publisher that has done more to make reading convenient to the reader than Thomas Nelson.  I have talked before about their Nelson Free program, but I am going to mention it again.  I had Derailed, for almost a year on my to read pile before I realized it was a Nelson Free book.  Nelson Free is a program that gives away an ebook and an audiobook if you purchase the hardback.  This allows the reader to read in the method they most prefer.  I prefer reading on ebook or listening on audiobook.  But I like to give away hardbacks to friends and family that I think would like the book.  Once I realized Derailed was Nelson Free, I downloaded the audiobook and I will give away the hardback later this week.

Derailed is a good concept.  Profile five highly publicized CEO failures and talk about the reasons for the “Failure of Leadership” and how the reader can avoid those crises.  I like business books and pay some attention to the business world so I was aware of the story of 3 of the 5 CEOs before reading the book.  This book gave more detail about some, but did not mention some details I thought import in at least one profile.  That always raises a few red flags about how much more was not being talked about.  Are these really crises of leadership or is the author picking and choosing in order to prove the point of his book?  Many of the failed leaders followed long time leaders and might have failed even if they were very good leaders, simply because they were not the previous long time leaders.

In the end, it really does not matter if Irwin picked and choose facts.  Irwin suggests that most, if not all leadership problems come from a lack of one or more of four traits: Authenticity, Self-Management, Humility and Courage.  The profiles, while interesting are not really the meat of the book.  If you only have a little time, read the first chapter, and then skip the profiles.  The decription of the charcter issues really is what is important.


In general I like authors to read their own work.  I think that many times, only they can really capture what is really great about the book.  In this case, Tim Irwin is a lousy reader.  I kept being distracted by the loss of flow.  I think I may have liked the book much more if I had read it instead of listened to it.

One Comment

Adam, I don’t know about you, but I’ve discovered that I read books prarimily to learn something new that will help me live a better life love God better, love others better, lead better, etc. And it seems like the more I read, the more I see concepts already covered in other books and the fewer new, actionable insights I find.

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