What your driving might reveal about your leadership

Traffic is a part of everyday life. No getting around it. We venture out with a million other yahoos to navigate our way to our destination. It is in the time between driving from point A to point B that our true nature often reveals itself. Out there in the asphalt jungle, I’ve thought about this and what it might mean to our leadership style as we move along with others:

Polite Drivers: These are leaders who are kind and courteous. They often cede ground to accommodate other viewpoints. They love to collaborate and enjoy the “hubbub” of a team. However, they can become disheartened over time when others don’t treat them or others with the same courtesy. You let enough people into the lane at your expense and you’ll begin to resent others taking advantage of your good will.

Cautious Drivers: These are leaders who don’t like taking risks. They observe the rules closely and are often nervous about deviating from them. They are calculating in their actions and move with great deliberation. This can be a good thing as it helps to prevent devastating consequences. Overly cautious leaders, however, can impede the quickness often needed to move on, excite others, and stay ahead.

Slow Drivers: These leaders just have a hard time moving. They are relaxed and in no hurry to get anywhere. Their attitude is; everybody gets to their destination eventually so what’s the rush? Slow leaders seek to avoid the stress of an accelerated world as much as possible. They can instill the pace of peace in a team or create extreme frustration in others who want to get a move on.

Distracted Drivers: These leaders have a million things bouncing around in their heads that its hard for them to concentrate on the task at hand. Distracted leaders have an exciting vision, it’s just that none of it is properly cared for- there’s too much to clarify. Unfocused vision can veer over into the lane of others causing misalignment. Focused vision though, combined with wild ideas often lead to breakthroughs.

Angry Drivers: These leaders have a burr in their saddle; a chip on their shoulder. They lead from a ungracious view of other people, blaming most of the problems on others. Everything seems to be an impediment and they can fly off the handle quickly. Few followers dare stand up to them. Heat can burn. Angry leaders can put others on the defensive or, if channeled properly for the right reasons, fire them up to action.

Drunk Drivers: These leaders have no business being behind the wheel. They lack the self-discipline and clear thinking that leadership requires. Why people let them drive is a major source of frustration for others and a danger to the life of an organization. They often move on when they sober up and realize that people are on to them. Without firm intervention, these leaders perpetuate poor leadership were ever they go.

Older Drivers: These leaders have years of experience under their belt but often continue long after their time has come. It’s hard to give up control and threatening to pass on the mantel to the next generation of leaders. It’s understandably hard on them. They should be commended, valued, and encouraged to take their hand from the wheel and become an invaluable GPS as a mentor.

Teen Drivers: These leaders are energetic but often reckless. They are new to the whole leadership thing and are learning as they go along.  Its virgin territory to be active among so many people moving toward a destination. It often takes a major crash in an organization for them to settle down and lead with continued maturity. They are often misunderstood or resented by others who feel threatened by the power they are responsible for.

I know there are other driving metaphors for leadership. What would some of those be?

 

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Posted in Change, Collaboration, Competencies, Leadership
  • Wes Roberts

    Creative Drivers: Those leaders who are not afraid to take the detours to get you where you need to go, personally and organizationally. They follow their gut-hunch that there is more than one way to get to the goal. On their way they discover new neighborhoods of thought, energy, and relationship that encourage them forward to new ways of leading rather than just zooming from point A to point B. They may not be the most efficient immediately. Not only do they get one to the goal, but creative drivers gather insights, confidence and an arsenal of possibilities for goals yet to come. Stop signs only give them pause to look both ways…and then keep going.

    • http://jeffvankooten.com/ Jeff Vankooten

      Wow Wes! That is very well written and insightful addition to the discussion on leadership. Thankyou!!

  • commonsensecolorado

    How about strategic drivers who organize their day so they avoid rush hour traffic? They may also use in-car navigation to get accident updates so they can reconfigure their route to bypass life’s unexpected challenges? If they are excellent at “strategery” they may even use a courier service to avoid several trips a week (outsourcing?). A truly strategic driver may question the need to drive at all, choosing instead to video conference, have groceries delivered to the home, and bicycling when it’s time to meet friends at the pub.

    • http://jeffvankooten.com/ Jeff Vankooten

      Great insight! I especially like the idea of outsourcing to be more strategic in the movement from A to B. Thanks!!

  • Lonnie

    I would add me as a “Hurry Up, Get Out of My Way” Driver. I am not angry, but I have places to go and people to see and I don’t have time for you to smell the roses while you are driving. Needless to say, I am a Type A personality.

  • http://jeffvankooten.com/ Jeff Vankooten

    Go, Lonnie, Go!!

  • Kim Browne54

    Asleep at the Wheel

  • http://jeffvankooten.com/ Jeff Vankooten

    Kim: enough said! zzzzzzzzz

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Jeff Vankooten is a speaker and author focusing on the power of resilience to effectively engage the challenges of change. He helps leaders, businesses, and organizations develop the skills necessary to thrive in an increasingly unpredictable business environment.
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