What Commuting Taught Me About Leadership – Stay Visible
I recently left a position with a great company, but with a long daily commute. This is the second of an 8-week blog series on things about leadership that I learned on those long and tedious hours on the road.
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Aside from following too close, improper lane changes were the most frequent cause of incidents I saw on the interstate. Near misses due to other cars changing lanes was a frequent event. Sometimes it was innocent; they weren’t trying to not see me. Other times it seemed they didn’t even make an effort to check for another car.
Ultimately, their intention was irrelevant: I wanted to be proactive to let them know I was there.
The reality is that every driver—including me—has blind spots (I’ll touch on this more in a future post). Because of this, I found it a best practice to avoid driving next to another car in their rear quarter for more than 5-10 seconds. If I felt I was in a potential blind spot, I would speed up or slow down so the other driver could see me out of the corner of their eyes. I didn’t want to make myself vulnerable by not being visible.
And Your Point Is…?
If people don’t see you, they drive like you’re not there.
Not to overstate the obvious, but one of the primary ways you become visible is through good performance. Keep your commitments. Do your job well and make yourself into an asset for the team.
I didn’t want to make myself vulnerable by not being visible.
Beyond that, you should be aware of your best contribution—one that matches your wiring, giftedness and God-given talent (hopefully that you’ve been honing and crafting). Sometimes that means speaking first or loudest; other times it means speaking last or most profoundly. Sometimes creativity, accuracy, or comprehensiveness are most helpful. Other times it’s boldness, confidence or even compassion.
There are catalysts, analysts, implementors and supporters. Showing up most effectively to meet the greatest need of the moment will help you be more visible.
A word of caution: You can over-do this. Sometimes pushing or trying too hard to make yourself visible will work against you. The art comes in knowing how much presence to push; how big to show up.
Showing up most effectively to meet the greatest need of the moment will help you be more visible.
The Big Picture
Leadership is ultimately about influence. There are so many ways to influence others’ thoughts, perspectives, behaviors, approaches, processes and values. But you can’t influence if people don’t know you’re there, so be clear on what approach works best for you.
Your Next Step
How can you know your best, most natural contribution to your team? Who do you know/trust who will help you discover it?
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