5 Leadership Lessons at 160 kmph
Published on 2016-01-22 15:45
Recently, I drove solo from Chennai – to Bangalore. The distance of 340 km was covered in a record 3:40min. Not once in the journey did I have to honk or slam brakes (Anyone who has driven in India will understand the impact of this statement). In all, it was a smooth drive from start to finish line.
I was running a temperature of about 102 deg F, was down with food poisoning, and hardly slept the previous night. And yet, I bettered my previous 10-year-old record by a good 300 seconds.
I was running a temperature of about 102 deg F, was down with food poisoning and hardly slept the earlier night.
#Shaving300seconds – Shaving those 5 minutes from 3h:45m is akin to breaking the 10-second barrier in a 100 m race. While 9:58 is just .02 seconds off 10, Usain Bolt took almost a decade to crack that. So yes, it is a big deal, and it was exhilarating to better my earlier personal best.
And here are the analogies to business leadership –
The Driver Leader
A driver is pretty much akin to a leader in an organization. Four qualities make for the capability of the leader.
In this case, the driver (yours truly) had an experience of over 500,000 miles, which is a crucial factor. Such experience helped the driver maintain calm and pursue the goal with a singular purpose of doing the right thing each time. In addition, the core skills ensured the seamless interplay of the man, the machine, the road. At speeds of 160kmph and 140kmph, anticipation and reflex must be on high alert all the time.
In business, it is all about the experience of the industry, of channels, leading people and organization with a singular purpose, and not being deterred by distractions of Quadrant 3 and 4 activities (of Eisenhower Matrix Fame). It also means a small error in judgment can represent a significant consequence to the organization and the thousands of people who believe in your leadership. It also means you must take risks and yet know the limits.
The Machine/ Team
In 2004, I drove the 1.4L first generation Tata Indica the last time I clocked 3:45. This time around, it was the second generation 2.5L Toyota Innova. I was going these ten years apart. So you may want to add the advances in infrastructure and technology while also compromising the potential traffic increase (read competition).
But one of the core success factors is that the driver and the machine are 100% in sync. You and your team must work in synergy for super-optimal output in business. You may always not get to hire the best-of-the-best people, but you can always get the best-of-the-best from the resources that you have.
Timing it Right/ Timing it Right
It is essential to start early to avoid traffic that builds up as the day progresses. Beginning at 5 am was not the easiest thing. But then that is how you can avoid the early rising Chennai Traffic, yet have a day-time driving. Reaching Bangalore early morning makes sense, as Bangalore is usually a later riser on Saturday, and a 9ish morning entry means most of Bangalore is snugly wrapped under their blankets.
Similarly, it is critical to get started in business and be ahead of the competition. Then, of course, the competition will catch up. But when you start early and set the pace, you get to reach the leadership before others and continue to up the game.
One Vehicle at a Time/ Solve One Problem at a Time
There were stretches where there would be a line of trucks to overtake, and there were curves and culverts. The best thing is not to plan to overtake the ten trucks. Just focus on the one truck at a time and continue moving on. Eventually, you will cross these hurdles but looking at the hell lot of hurdles together confuses you and slows you down. Pretty much similar in business, where you work optimally by solving one issue at a time while keeping the overall objective in mind.
Well, for all that, there could have been traffic jams or accidents and crowded toll fee junctions. I was lucky that nothing of such happened.