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Leadership Lessons from biking with my family

June 7, 2014

A few times this year, we as a family have gone for a bike ride/walk. Usually I am driving my power wheelchair while Sarah walks with at least one child in the chariot (unless they are sitting on my lap), and our child/ren riding their bikes. As one person gets too far ahead or someone lags behind or to avoid an injury, I find myself calling out different reminders… and then I hear “leadership lessons” coming out of my mouth. Here’s a few…

1. You’ve got to keep moving – as one person realizes they are ahead of the pack, they stop and wait for everyone to catch up. But then as the rest of the family gets close, the person continue to watch them. I remind them, “Okay, time to get moving” or else a) someone is going to run into (or over) you or b) the whole family is going to be held up waiting for you to keep going.

There are times when a leader needs to give followers a chance to catch up, but if you stop moving completely, there could be trouble for you and the organization you lead.

2. Don’t go too fast – At other times, one family member charges ahead, and leaves the rest of us in the dust. While their physical speed is impressive (and showing that off is the point!), there is also a point where they are going so fast that either the “leader” is out of hearing range of all the followers or the “leader” is going to come upon some unexpected situation and have no one to help him out because they are so far “ahead.”

4. Keep looking ahead/forward – Sometimes in the eagerness to balance points 1 & 2, I catch a child trying to go forward and then turn around and look back while still moving ahead slightly. Either they drift to one direction off the sidewalk or they are risk bumping into something (or someone) because they are not fully paying attention ahead of them.

As a leader, one must constantly be checking the rear view mirrors (pardon the switch to a driving metaphor) to maintain connection to followers, but you must keep your eyes focused on what lies ahead, both in terms of possible obstacles and opportunities.

4. Stop at the crosswalks – Fortunately, our children know this rule well – and its corollary “Look both ways before proceeding or crossing the street.” Not only is this safe, it lets the rest of the family catch up and continue together.

Leaders need to stop a major intersections too, both for their own rest and safety, and to make sure followers have a chance to catch up physically, emotionally, and otherwise with the life of the organization.

Anything you’ve learned about leadership while walking/biking with the family? I’d love to hear your comments.

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