One of my favorite work places is in my car. I do a lot of driving, so it’s an excellent time to talk to teammates on the phone, listen to audio books, or just chill and listen to music. I also find humor and insights by observing others’ driving habits and the different mindsets we have under different traffic conditions.
Oh yes, the way we drive relates to leadership! You see, traffic is like business; we’re driving to our destination, and along the way there may be congestion, varying speed limits, and even incompetent drivers we have to watch out for and manage around.
Here are six additional leadership lessons I’ve picked up while driving.
Choose Your Lane Wisely.
I know which lane I should stay in during my commute north each Tuesday morning. This particular lane gets bogged down in one area, but it always smooths out and proves to be the best lane for the long term. I lost my patience one morning and made the short-term decision to switch to a faster lane. I was satisfied with my decision, but only for a while. In the long run it cost me time and caused me anguish. How many times in business do we make a short-term decision in hopes that it will get us to our destination faster?
Focus on What Matters.
Every morning I have the option to listen to a traffic and news station that provides updates on traffic conditions throughout the metro. When I listen to this station, I can alter my route if there are poor conditions ahead. Sometimes (okay, most times) I choose not to listen to the traffic updates so I can listen to my music or an audio book. This is selfish! It’s like a leader not keeping their eyes on what’s up ahead. Your job is to listen to the boring traffic reports!
Avoid the Drama.
Why is it that we always have to slow down to look at the flashing police car lights as we go by? There’s nothing going on! At least it’s nothing we need to worry about. However, just like at the office, as commuters we let the smallest amount of drama slow everyone down. Keep your eyes on the road, and keep it moving! Your interest in the drama and gossip (that, by the way, isn’t even good) causes disruptions.
Don’t Drive Slow in the Fast Lane.
Of course we all hate slow drivers in the left lane. These poor souls are simply not self aware of how their leadership is frustrating others. I love a self-aware teammate who puts his blinker on and moves out of the fast lane when he sees that he isn’t fit to lead at that moment.
Use Your Rearview Mirror.
Don’t forget those who are following you. Give them time to react to your movement, and let them know what’s going on ahead of you. Use your turn signals, and if there are brakes lights up ahead of you, tap on yours so those behind you know to prepare! Isn’t it nice to know where your leader is going? Using blinkers and tapping your brakes is a way to communicate with your followers. Notifying your follows of what’s ahead is courteous when driving and leading.
Focus When Behind the Wheel
Leaders who are driving should dedicate and focus on their leader responsibilities instead of eyeing political priorities. Those who follow us rely on us. Inattentive leaders are like drivers who text or put on their makeup while driving. You are unsafe to travel with!
The next time you’re frustrated with your travel conditions, smile and relate the situation back to your place of work! It makes driving more fun.