Certainly, all of us that ride a bike understand that it comes with inherent risks. So, too, does leadership! The following are 6 lessons that I've gleaned from years in the saddle that inform my leadership style. Look and see if these tips can help you, too:
- Always Be Looking Ahead - It is essential for motorcyclists to always be looking ahead so that they can better anticipate what lies ahead of them on their journey. Who knows when a distracted driver may run a light or an inattentive truck driver throws open a door after double parking? Business leaders must be looking ahead, too. It is their vision for the future that sets direction and drives change within their organization.
- Manage Risks--As mentioned, riding a motorcycle is risky. There are no bumpers or airbags to dampen a collision. That said, the burden is on us as riders to do whatever we can to manage and lessen the risks--proper training, high awareness, right clothing. We, as leaders, are also responsible for managing risks for our businesses. This is why it is so essential to put proper controls in place to monitor progress and make mid-course adjustments as new strategic initiatives roll-out.
- Avoid Blind Spots--If we, as riders, inadvertently enter into a driver's blind spot we may end up with a good case of "road rash," or worse. It's imperative that we do the best that we can to limit our blind spots when running a business, too. How did the Japanese come to dominate the digital watch industry? The Swiss, who invented digital watch technology, discounted its value because they were blind to the fact that people would ever want an inexpensive, virtually disposable, timepiece.
- Be Visible--The safest riders always wear brightly colored clothing and fluorescent motorcycle helmets. The idea is to improve the odds that they will be seen before by a driver makes an improper lane shift, and knocks a rider to the road. Leaders need to maintain their visibility, as well. After all, our staffs need to see us in order to properly follow our lead. So, be sure to walk among the troops and not just be a figurehead
- Maintain Your Machine--If your bike breaks down because of mechanical failure or your tire blows out due to improper inflation, you're in trouble. Accordingly, staying on top of your bike's maintenance is critical to enjoying the ride. Similarly, leaders must be paying attention to the business of the business--meaning working to optimize how the internal support functions, like administrative support, HR and IT, operate. These functions must recognize who the internal customer is and do all that they can to support the core business and not become overwrought with unnecessary policies that only serve to distract or disrupt.
- Enjoy the Alone Time - For me, as with most motorcyclists, riding recharges my senses. How? The activity is all-consuming and the feel of wind on your face is not only liberating, but, it clears your head. Leaders also, need their alone time. It provides time to think, gain perspective and imagine the impossible--all the things that we need to be great business leaders.
Indeed, leadership is like motorcycling. It can be uncertain, dangerous and fraught with potential mishap. But, with heightened awareness of what can be done to lessen the risks and smooth the ride, the process of leading can provide some of the most rewarding adventures of your life.