The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Leadership On The Road
These days we’re constantly on the hunt for the next motivational podcast, blog or book. And for good reason, there’s a wealth of lessons from these mediums that transpire into your career—especially workplace leadership. But what we often forget is that leadership lessons pop up in our day-to-day and in unlikely places. Take road trips for examples, there’s so much knowledge we can take from our travels and road trips to help us become stronger leaders at home, work and their community.
Lesson 1: Construct Goals
Deciding on a destination for a road trip such as a national park or an off-the-grid camping location requires some decision making. Selecting a destination is equivalent to setting goals in the workplace, at home and community events. Constructing goals can increase productivity and help you stay motivated. Alternatively, not having goals can make tracking progress difficult, which hinders you from reaching your full potential and ability to lead a team.
Lesson 2: Produce a Plan
After you set goals, developing the rest of your road trip plan is fundamental for staying focused and minimizing risks along your trip. If you fail to plan ahead for factors like how long your body is capable of driving, how often to stop for gas and best locations for rest stops or bathroom breaks, chances are your ride won’t go so smooth. As a leader, it’s important to have a plan in place for your team to best achieve their goals.
Lesson 3: Plan for Breakdowns
Although creating a road trip plan helps minimize risks along the road, it’s also naive to think there won’t be any metaphorical speed bumps along the way—i.e. car accidents, weather conditions and breakdowns. Ultimately, traveling rarely goes according to plan and the same idea applies to leadership. Whether you experience negative feedback or lose a valuable employee, how you react to challenging situations reveals a lot about leadership skills in the process.
Lesson 4: Include Everyone
Travel, whether at home or overseas brings together different cultures, customs and teaches you to embrace the uncomfortable. This shapes the way you handle a diverse team with equally diverse ideas. Learning to place value cultural differences strengthens your leadership skills.
Lesson 5: Foster Open Communication
Communication is the key to success in any environment. Spending hours in a car with kids or even family and friends can challenge your communication skills. Everything from communicating bathroom and food needs to emergencies on the road translates to the workplace. From a leadership lens, bad communication can cause a mix of organizational issues. This internal factor can easily be diminished with communication apps and hiring team members with excellent communication skills.
Lesson 6: Balance Self vs. Others
Most of us find backseat drivers annoying, but there’s something to be learned from your willingness to listen to your passengers, how you help them and if you let your passengers help you. The same goes for your awareness of team strengths and weaknesses. Much like you might need to switch drivers when you’re tired on a long trip, holding all of the weight on your shoulders can slow down productivity and show employees they aren’t trusted. Delegate responsibilities to others, so they feel part of the team.
Next time you’re on the road, pay attention to your daily activities and travel challenges to see how those can translate to the workplace. You may be surprised by what other areas communicate leadership lessons and help develop your professional skills. Check out the infographic below for more leadership lessons from the road.