Recently, I had the delight of taking a long-distance road trip. For me the road is a canvas for thinking and dreaming.
The Zen saying, “How you do anything is how you do everything,” came to mind as I noticed drivers’ varied strategies on the highway. The parallels with team performance revealed itself to me. On the highway you must navigate the relationships with other drivers and at high speeds! While everyone is moving in the same direction, they still can get in each other’s way.
I observed the following styles:
- The Weavers – are constantly changing lanes looking for every opportunity to get ahead. Their speed and erratic behavior often throw others off course disrupting overall momentum forward. It’s difficult to trust a weaver.
- The Blockers – are going slower than the flow of traffic, creating loss in momentum. The blocker is annoying and frustrates those behind. All progress is slowed. Sometimes high performers will bail out!
- The Wrong Laners – there are rules of the road like passing on the left. The Wrong Laner throws a wrench in the flow because they take a position that isn’t in their authority and not optimum for momentum of the group. Their choice can cause accidents.
- On Your ‘Butt’-ers – are the micromanagers of the road; they believe in pushing people out of their way. In a sense they think ‘my way on the highway’ bringing out anger and fear in other drivers.
- Loose Baggage-ers – have ‘stuff’ they are hauling with the potential of it flying out to hit you. It may be waving in the air and a major distraction. They’ve not properly contained their ‘stuff’ and pollute the road. This is a distraction and robs others of focus. Yes, you know those people at work as complainers.
- The Facilitators – see the big picture of the flow; they signal to let others in when others are stressed or blocked. They adjust for the optimum highway flow.
While it’s tempting to think of a leader as the one speeding at the front to the destination, a great leader is a facilitator of bringing out the best in others! Each of the above styles requires nuanced feedback and guidance. A great leader knows how facilitate each of these styles to bring the best forward.
How have you experienced this on your team? What did I leave out?
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