2023 Derailers of the Year in the US

For the fourth year in a row, Hogan evaluates the derailers of the year. Find out what they picked for 2023.

From strikers to safety disasters to Deion Sanders to George Santos, the year 2023 was filled with many remarkable personalities, incidents, and even disasters. Yes, here are the 2023 derailers of the year.

The Hogan Development Survey (HDS) measures 11 performance risks called derailers. In Hogan terms, derailers are personality strengths that can get people into trouble during times of stress, burnout, complacency, or other moments when we aren’t self-monitoring. HDS scores can be used to help individuals recognize and mitigate potential areas for career derailment.

In their traditional year-end episode of The Science of Personality, cohosts Ryne Sherman, PhD, and Blake Loepp use newsworthy people or events from 2023 to represent the spirit of the derailers.

Excitable: OpenAI Board

To kick off the derailers of the year, the OpenAI board represents Excitable. The Excitable scale refers to emotional decision-making fueled by intense, volatile moods. The OpenAI board fired CEO Sam Altman on a Friday afternoon and rehired him early the following week. Subsequently, the board was reconfigured, including a seat for former competitor Microsoft—a corporate emotional rollercoaster.

Skeptical: Things in the Sky

In 2023, we experienced a lot of unusual sky events that led to uncertainty and questioning. One concerned public conversation about UFO phenomena, and another had to do with the so-called Chinese spy balloon. The Skeptical scale measures a person’s likelihood to seem cynical, distrustful, and fault-finding. These incidents related to things in the sky raised the level of skepticism toward governments, media, and the nature of evidence.

Cautious: Federal Reserve Interest Rates

The Cautious scale concerns deferring decisions to wait and see. Global inflation has created a worldwide effect of investment hesitance. In 2022, the US Federal Reserve interest rate was close to 0 percent; in 2023, it rose to 5.5 percent in an effort to curb inflation. This change has created a sense of caution among startup investors in tech and other industries, limiting business investments. It has also affected the US housing market, limiting real estate investment.

Reserved: John Wick

The John Wick franchise, which originated in 2014, features actor Keanu Reeves as a retired assassin who gets drawn back into crime. In the 170-minute John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023), the character speaks only 380 words. This represents the Reserved scale, which measures the tendency to seem socially withdrawn, tough, or uncommunicative. A high Reserved manager in derailment might lock themselves in their office and refuse to answer questions. Similarly, in the film, John Wick takes a phone call without speaking even once.

Leisurely: Southwest Airlines

The Leisurely scale involves overt cooperation but private resistance. High Leisurely leaders tend to seem polite and friendly on the outside but are resentful or resistant on the inside. Southwest Airlines represents this derailer because of a series of flight delays caused by system problems at the end of 2022 and throughout 2023. The airline’s consistent technical issues caused a snowball effect that arguably damaged the whole industry’s reputation.

Bold: Elon Musk

Last year, he stood for Diligent; this year, he stands for Bold. Elon Musk made an inexplicable decision to change the Twitter brand name to X and retire the blue bird logo. Brand changes should not be undertaken lightly, especially when the brand is a household name like Twitter was. However, the Bold scale is about overconfidence and having a supreme belief in yourself despite all odds.

Mischievous: Safety Disasters

The Mischievous scale concerns not following rules, regulations, or guidelines. In the business world, a Mischievous event would be avoiding safety procedures to gain more profit. One of the numerous safety disasters of 2023 was the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment. The train, which was 1.75 miles long, derailed while carrying hazardous materials, causing the temporary evacuation of the area. Another was the Titan submersible implosion, which resulted in five casualties. Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate, who died in the implosion, had previously made statements about his lack of concern with safety.

Colorful: Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders, a former American football and baseball player nicknamed Coach Prime, is the head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes. The Colorful scale concerns grabbing the spotlight and catching attention. Sanders, who was named the 2023 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year, has received lots of media coverage about his leadership and performance.

Imaginative: George Santos

George Santos was expelled from US Congress this year for fraud and misuse of campaign funds. Upon investigation, his biography—including his employment record, education, and even criminal history—appeared to be fabricated. The Imaginative scale relates to creative, unconventional thinking characterized by impracticality and eccentricity. Santos seems to have dreamt up a story about himself that he pretended was true.

Diligent: Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour

Taylor Swift’s Eras tour represents the Diligent scale for its hard work and high standards to the point of perfectionism. The Eras tour is the first to gross more than one billion US dollars, a testament to the success of Taylor Swift, who was named the Time Person of the Year for 2023. In her 151 shows across five continents, Taylor Swift covered 44 songs in more than three hours. The planning, preparation, and effort necessary to average a show every 4.1 days for nearly two years is a seriously Diligent achievement.

Dutiful: Strikers

The United Auto Workers strike lasted for 46 days, the longest UAW strike in 25 years. Nearly all the UAW workers’ demands were met because they demonstrated commitment to the group. Also, the Writers Guild of America strike lasted for 148 days, tied for second longest strike in WGA history. Both strikes significantly impacted their respective industries because of all the people who maintained the strike. The Dutiful scale relates to loyalty, following orders, and staying in line.

This post was originally published on the Hogan Assessments blog.

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