The Drive to Lead
- Gail M. Hayes Handle Your Business Girl Empowerment Network
- 2013 5 May
Most of us drive. We use our cars to get to work, to run our errands and accomplish what needs to get done. Because of our way of life, we believe that driving is a necessity. But it’s not—it’s a privilege. In many countries women still are not allowed to drive. So if you are reading this and you live in the United States or Europe, you have access to this privilege just for the asking and the doing.
Leading and driving have much in common. Leading is a privilege. When someone selects you to lead, they honor you. When you elect to accept, you step into a place that can only be described as honorable. Without risk, there can be no honor. Honor is only gained when you take up a cause greater than yourself.
You have the honor and privilege of being in command of a mission. Your mission may be running your home, your office, or even a business. As a driver, you have the privilege of being in command of a vehicle. That vehicle could be the family van, a jeep, a luxury vehicle, or that car that keeps leaking oil. It doesn’t matter because whatever it is, it belongs to you and you are responsible for it. The bottom line is that you are the commander of your mission and your mode of transportation.
A mission has critical elements that you must execute with precision for it to be successful. In driving, the vehicle must be handled with precision or the end result can be an accident or even death.
There are five principles that describe the operation of both driving and leadership. Those called to lead rise to their best when all principles, or facets, are operating together.
Leadership Facet 1: Activation/Ignition (Facing Challenges)
Activation is finding the ignition switch and looking for opportunities to experience something new and make changes. Activation also involves facing challenges or discovering new processes. Mission activates leadership. Leaders perform at their best when faced with a challenge. When confronted by a mission, those who are born to lead choose to act.
When a leader sees a need and then accepts the responsibility of meeting that need, activation occurs. When a driver gets into a vehicle, they start the car through the ignition system. Much like a rocket, the ignition process signals that the vehicle will soon be moving. Mission does the same for a leader.
Leadership Facet 2: Shifting into Gear/Direction (Inspiring Others to Share a Vision)
When a driver shifts a car into gear, they are the singular force deciding where the car will go. After a leader accepts a mission, they too become a force. This leadership force, unlike a car, is usually accompanied by a team. The leader decides on a course of action. Those who are born to lead believe that things do not have to stay the same. They believe they can make a difference and will pursue that goal with passion.
Like driving a car, they shift into gear and decide how best to execute their plans and operations. They decide if they need to advance or retreat from a position and how to gain an advantage over any threats. They then decide how best to move into the next facet of leadership. They also help others to see the possibilities of something new and exciting for the future.
Leadership Facet 3: Inspiration (Motivation)/Acceleration (Empowering Others to Act)
All drivers know where to locate the accelerator pedal in their cars. It controls the speed of movement and how fast or how slowly they move towards their objective. It is the same with inspiration. True leaders inspire and empower others by creating an atmosphere of respect and shared vision. They foster mutual respect and help others to treat one another with dignity. This ability to work together with respect directly influences the mission.
They inspire and motivate their teams to move to the next level and take ownership of a mission. They do this by strengthening and empowering their team members to use their gifts. If this facet is not executed with precision and enthusiasm, the leader could lose their team and the mission could be lost.
Leadership Facet 4: Training and Development/Fueling (Showing Others How to Act)
Much like a car needs fuel in order to move, a team needs training. This also includes putting policies and procedures into action. Leaders understand that not all policies and procedures work, so they set in motion training scenarios to test them, ensuring that they are workable for mission success.
Leaders understand that training is a critical part of mission as much as drivers understand the need to fuel their vehicles. If a car does not receive fuel, then it will not move. If a team does not receive training, then they will fail to be mission-ready. Leaders set short-term goals and then model the desired behavior so that team members can see small victories while working towards the larger mission. This encourages team members to better see where they need to go and to work toward the larger group goals.
Leadership Facet 5: Rewards and Recognition/Maintenance (Rewarding and Encouraging Others)
As any good leader knows, recognition for a job well done is a critical element for keeping the team motivated. When a team reaches a remarkable goal, it is time for celebration! When leaders celebrate team members for a job well done, it infuses the team with hope and they are more willing to take ownership of the team mission.
If team members do not have ownership of a mission or they feel unappreciated, then they will lack the passion to work toward goals. Having a “shared heart” is essential to the success of any mission. In other words, people must feel important if they are to function at their best.
If a driver does not perform regular maintenance on their vehicle, engine failure could result. The care and feeding of a team is much like the care and feeding of a car. Both ensure that the car and team stay ready to meet challenges.
Where Do We Go from Here?
It still may not be easy to see how these leadership facets impact your life. Right now, you may still believe that you are not called to be a leader. But the fact is that every person who exists is called into some sort of leadership position. That includes you.
Isn’t it exciting to know that God did not forget you when He passed out the leadership gifts? If you don’t feel the excitement yet, you will. Watching God’s power flow through you to influence the lives of others is nothing short of miraculous. Excitement is a natural result of that experience.
As you begin this journey, remember that it is an honor to lead others, and those who are lost are waiting for you to show them the way to destiny. Each person you touch is called to lead, and God has chosen you to help with this mission. So let’s get started!
Gail M. Hayes has served as a consultant to women in the workplace by helping them to improve their relationships and become agents of positive change. Because of her passion for helping working women, she developed the Handle Your Business Girl Empowerment Network, a network that empowers women to handle their business where they do business.
Publication date: May 10, 2013