Five Leadership Lessons I Learned from my Commute

What are your biggest driving pet peeves? For some it may be people who text and drive. For others it may be slow drivers in the fast lane. With Southern California being where I call home, it’s safe to say that I find myself in quite a bit of traffic during my commutes and have a few driving pet peeves of my own.

I’ve got a lot of time on my hands on the road, and noticed some commonalities between driving and business. While the time sitting in traffic can be frustrating, as is true in life, there is always something to be learned, even in a sea of red lights and impatient drivers.

I’m sharing with you five leadership lessons I discovered from my commute on how situations aren’t always obstacles and sometimes (if not all of the time!) we can learn a thing or two from our predicaments that make us better off- both professionally and personally.

Five Leadership Lessons I Learned from my Commute:

  1. Giving Directions—Creating a Map and Using our Turn Signals

While winging it off course can be an adventure and we need to take risks in business, our teams need to know there is a plan. Keep the destination the same until there’s a strategic reason to change it, even if you “reroute” along the way.

  1. Avoid Getting Stuck in “Traffic”

This one is difficult, because it’s often outside of our control. Because of this, we have to plan ahead and adapt along the way. In fact, I suggest one has to think two moves ahead, sometimes taking a less direct route to your goal, but keeping your team’s momentum going.

And if you’ve ever been in traffic for too long and are going a little stir crazy, or even a little discouraged that you’ll never make your end goal, then you know the value of stopping along the way. Plan for “rest stops” by scheduling smaller milestones/check points along the way so you’re not committing your team to a long journey with no end in sight.

  1. The Value of Carpooling

This one is hard for many people, considering we are often taught that in the corporate world that our responsibilities should fall on our shoulders alone. But, getting people involved is extremely important. If you take turns driving the car, the drive is more bearable, easier to manage, and you have the added benefit of a collaborative experience with those in the car with you.

  1. Maintenance

Easier said than done, but equally as important as all others on this list. By practicing ongoing care of ourselves, we are able to set a healthy example for our teams of the much-needed work-life balance. Running yourself ragged doesn’t set a good example for your team; in fact, it does the opposite. It sets high expectations, unrealistic goals, and we lose the value of celebrating small successes if we are all part of the proverbial “Rat Race”. Instead, prep for the long road trip ahead and pace yourself, all the while maintaining a healthy mind, body, and spirit.

  1. Don’t be a Prius in the Fast Lane

Possibly the most important thing we can keep in mind once we’re on our trip is to self-evaluate your own abilities along the way. Are you getting in your team’s way? Are you holding others back? Don’t be afraid to move aside and let others move ahead. When they grow their abilities, it only benefits you and your team more.

I’m going to be honest with you—I hate traffic. But the opportunities I have along the way outweigh the bad. With these five reminders on how to make the most of our “journeys” in business, I hope you can reroute, redirect, stretch your legs, and let others pass, too!

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