Years ago, as a country boy who had rarely ventured outside of North Georgia, I had the opportunity to travel to New York City. I have countless trips to this great city under my belt now, but I will never forget that first foray into the metropolitan jungle. I flew into Laguardia in the middle of a snow storm. When we finally landed, my best option to get me to my hotel near Times Square was a taxi. I remember being concerned about my safety. It didn't help that there was a language barrier that eliminated the possibility of communicating. Even more concerning was my driver's propensity for straddling the centerline as he drove. At first I thought he was distracted, but soon convinced myself he just didn't know how to drive. I did some good southern style praying in the back seat of that cab and made a silent promise to the big "taxi driver in the sky", that if he would help me get to my hotel safely, I would not get in another cab for the entire stay.
Well, I did arrive safely, and quickly forgot my utter panic the the next night, when I opted to do a bit of sight seeing. I was amazed at my luck when my second taxi driver had the same bad driving skill as the first. He drove in the middle of the two lanes, as if he were playing a real life game of pac man and gobbling up the broken lines. This time however, there was no language barrier. I had to know why he was driving so erratically.
When I finally mustered up the courage to ask him why he drove in the middle of the road, I was amazed at his response. He said, the traffic dictates the way I drive. If there is no traffic, I stay in my lane. If there is a lot of traffic, I have to drive in the middle. If I ever get into one lane, I get locked in. By straddling the line, I can control both lanes and get back over whenever I need to."
There are so many leadership lessons in this experience and his response, but let me focus on the communication aspect. Though what you are doing may make perfect sense to you, those who are following your lead must know the reasoning behind your behavior or you are creating an atmosphere of distrust. A good leader will not only take the time to explain where you will be going, but how he or she plans to take you there and why they have chosen a particular route. Further, they will keep you updated on potential detours and speed bumps along the way.
Do your people know where you are going? If so, have you communicated the "whys" and "hows" of your vision? Scott Humphrey CEO of the WFCA