Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What my Ride Can Teach About the New Leadership

I admit this may be just a cheap way to work my scooter into my professional blog. But humor me: the other day while I putt-putted along, thinking about the joys and benefits of scootering, it occurred to me that some of the lessons apply to the cuurent lessons we are learning about leadership, after scandals, bankruptcies, meltdowns, and more.

Riding a scooter can remind us to:

See the world in new ways. Participate: Maybe you’re taking a new route, or driving five mph slower than before. You might notice landmarks you wouldn’t otherwise come across. Or be forced to learn some new skills and habits. Your whole world feels different.

Take-Away: How can I be more present to both what is and what is possible? How can I, open up my creativity and spark it in my team? How would that benefit my organization, the bottom line, my industry, the world?

Be more resourceful, tighten our belts.
You might save some money on a scooter…and not just from the obvious: 100+/- MPG. Savings may derive from critically evaluating the need for every trip. Or because you plan your routes in advance, look at all the contingencies, weigh every expenditure.

Take-Away: Many of us need to tighten organizational belts. Organizations who are truly lean and green have an advantage. How can we plan, execute and evaluate to get the most bang for our bucks?

Be an original. Be yourself. I don’t know anyone else with a scooter; I bought mine because it met a need and sounded like a whole lot of fun. I’m not saying you should duplicate what I did; I’m suggesting you think for yourself! Have your own identity, color outside the lines.

Take-Away: An adventurous quality is needed more than ever, don’t you think? The old way is gone. The status quo will sink your ship. Think beyond what was done before, do something unexpected, make your mark.

Move through adversity. The other day, I expected eighty degrees and sunny, but it was cold, or foggy, or wet and stormy. I could suck it up—or I can look for plan B or C. Either choice is more interesting—and challenging--than sitting in my car in rush hour traffic. When I’m challenged, I’m alive and present and at my best.

Take-Away: We live in tough times. Do you make the most of challenges? Does adversity kick start your creativity muscle or send you scrambling for cover?

Be more transparent. The first time I rode my scooter, I felt nekkid! Occupants of vehicles have at least a modicum of privacy to lip-synch to their favorite song, apply eyeliner, or argue with their spouse. On a scooter or motorcycle, there’s nothing to hide behind. You are on display for the world; not for the faint of heart of the extremely shy.!

Take-Away: In the last few years, we’ve realized we need leaders to be more transparent. Hiding away making decisions for people without participation hasn’t served anyone. Tell us, show us the way. Involve us. Go out on a limb. Get out there.

Be an ambassador. Be visible. Be accountable. Within days of buying my first scooter, I learned there was no private citizen status, no anonymity. I am routinely cornered in parking lots, peppered with questions. “Where did you get that? Is it hard to ride? Do you need a special license? What’s the MPG?” And yes, without fail, they ask: “How much did it cost?” One day, a commuter even flagged me down to interrogate me about my shiny new red Kymco. I stopped only because I thought something was wrong, i.e. it was on FIRE. I was running late, but I did not mind the interruption too much: She was so excited as she launched into her questions. And I am an ambassador for what I love.

Take-Away: Can we bring that excitement, that ambassador nature, to our work? Can we be “on” even when we’d otherwise be “off?” Can we become comfortable expanding the the borders of our transparency?

Have fun! Many adults rarely have laugh-out-loud good times. Scootering is the most exhilaration I’ve found in my own daily, grown up world. But you don’t have to scoot to have a good time: the point is: are you *having* fun? Fun, of any type?

Take-Away: Understanding that non one has good times all the time, in the broad sense, if it ain’t fun, why do it? So: are you having fun? If not, can you make it fun or move to a situation that is? How can you add more humor, exhilaration and joy to what you do? What benefits would a more joyful vocation provide?

So there you have it. What scootering can teacher us about the new leadership. Tomorrow, what kayaking can teach us about the new HR.


Steve Boese said...

Really great post and I liked how you managed to draw so many apt parallels between the scooter and organizational issues. My question about the scooter is, can you really trick it out with some flames painted on the side and maybe a bigger exhaust? Then you could really make a statement going down the road!

Krista Ogburn Francis said...

Steve, I will look into your suggestions! Thanks for making me smile!

Kari Quaas said...

Great read and suggestions, Krista!