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.