Are you a driver? General statistics will have me guessing many of you are. Are you a leader? My own beliefs and the teachings I have followed of leaders I admire inspires me to state that yes, you are. ALL of you. You don’t need to hold a high-up position in a multinational corporation to be a leader. You don’t need to be in a position of high political stature to be a leader. You don’t need to be the Chairman of the Board of a non-profit organization either. Leadership happens in all of those places of course, but it also happens at home, on the streets, in the grocery store, and at the park. And it even happens out there on the roads we travel.
Here are some tips on how you can both improve your leadership skills and become a better driver, all at the same time, all within the 2, or 4, or 0 doors of your mode of transportation. It’s easier than it sounds. Why not turn the green light on and give these a go?
A Good Communicator
Express your intentions to those around you: use your signals. And remember that communication is a two-way street. Pay attention to what others are trying to tell you so that you can be prepared to respond accordingly.
Look ahead, but don’t forget to look in other directions too. Gather value from the hindsight of rear view mirrors. And pay attention to what’s going on beside you. A small investment in blind spot mirrors offers a priceless return of expanded vision and largely reduces the chances of getting blindsided by your fellows.
Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff But See It
Scheduled oil changes, proper tire pressure, all lights in good working condition. These things aren’t just good for fuel efficiency [read: saving money] and extending the life of the car, but they are essential to safety as well.
Be Defensive … In A Good Way
Think ahead and be proactive so you can be better equipped to avoid or minimize problems. Lots of brake lights on ahead of you? Take your foot off the gas pedal and get ready to put on your own brakes. Read the signs along your journey so you know when your exit/turn is coming or perhaps where future activity may require a detour to your route.
Know When To Break The Rules
Yes, I said break the rules. But just one of them and only under one set of general circumstances. Many jurisdictions have an exemption to their distracted driving laws regarding the use of hand-held devices and it is to call 911. That being said, if you can pull over safely to make the call, have a passenger make the call, and/or use hands-free dialing, then do so. Breaking the rule to report a suspected impaired driver could save lives, but don’t risk your own or others in doing so.
Consult the experts on a regular basis. Your mechanic is your driving leadership coach who can see things about your vehicle that you can not. Don’t know how to check your oil or put air in your tires? Create access to information by asking others who do know how. Leaders know that to continue leading they must continue to learn as well.
Keep an emergency kit in your trunk along with booster cables. Make sure you and those accompanying you are equipped for safety. Buckle up: click it or ticket.
One general final thought: if you wouldn’t say it or do it at a meeting of your staff, peers, and/or leaders, then don’t do it while driving either.
- Rage has no place at the meeting table or on the roads. It puts at risk the emotional, mental, and physical well-being of those around you, and yourself too.
- Eliminate distractions. You wouldn’t talk on your phone or update your social media sites in a meeting or while making a presentation to your boss, so don’t do it in the car either. Unless of course it is deemed necessary to call 911 (see above) to help ensure the safety of those around you.
- Tailgating is the equivalent of nagging someone. It likely won’t motivate others into taking the action you so desire of them. If anything, it poses the threat of them doing just the opposite in which case nobody wins.
- Keep a safe distance. Much like taking the time to breathe deeply before responding to someone, use the “3 second/3 cars rule” while driving. Find a marker along the road and see how many “Mississippis” you can count to measure the distance between you and the car ahead of you. If it’s less than 3, you’re too close for highway driving. In residential traffic, make sure you can visualize 3 average car lengths ahead of you.
And don’t forget people are watching you! And no, not just the police officer parked up around the bend under an overpass in an unmarked car with a radar gun. I’m talking about the next generation of leaders out there on the roads with you. Be a great role model for them so they can become great role models for your/our children and grandchildren.
Try driving the leadership message home today. Just take one of the points above and make it your focus this week for how you can both improve your leadership skills and be a better driver. Leadership and safety … the results of the shared experiences are greater than the sum of their individual parts. And it’s all possible if we cooperate together, as leaders, as drivers, to make it happen.