For about 5 years I drove between Johannesburg (the economic hub of South Africa) and Pretoria (the Capital city) where I live. This was the daily community to get to my workplace. A distance of some 50km, which at peak traffic, took anywhere between 45 minutes on a good day, to 2.5 hours on a bad day.
As the conscious and defensive driver that I tried to be, I practiced reading the traffic and trying to predict what would happen. The best way to do so was always to look ahead as far as possible, while, at the same time, keeping awareness on what was going on around me.
This helped me to avoid having to make quick changes, such as heavy breaking, which was not only dangerous for me, but also for those around me. Many a time my fellow drivers and I would nearly end up in pile-up because someone did not keep an adequate following distance or did not break soon enough or did not react fast enough to the changes happening in front of them.
What this taught me was a lesson that was similar to what the late Dr Miles Monroe (whom I discovered far too late) said. I paraphrase- “the best way to respond to change is to plan for it”.
Good leaders are those that are:
- able to read and anticipate the changes around them,
- able to “foresee” what is happening “up the road” and make decisions now about how to respond,
- do not wait until the last moment to react, by make “knee-jerk reactions” or changes under panic,
- constantly aware of “the mood” of the people around them, and anticipate how the changes ahead may impact them and the people around them.
If you want to practice good leadership, practice these three things: keeping your eye on what’s coming ahead- as far as possible; learning to be aware of the current situation around you and; anticipating what the most appreciate response to the coming changes.
Your response-ability is what will set the tone for others around you- either you’re causing calm or contributing to chaos. This is what sets managers apart from leaders.