Brought to you by VIVIFI
Aligned Leadership, Direction Clarity, Individual Potential, Intended Workplace

Cyclists and cars; employees and leaders

bikesand carsI’m an Ironman triathlete, which means I’m also a cyclist. This is a point of contention in my family. You see, my father hates cyclists. As an avid hiker, he loathes the Red Bull-infused mountain bikers that bomb through the trails with their hair on fire, screaming out “ON THE LEFT!” And as a driver, he sees lollygagging cyclists as the hogs of the road, making them impassable for anyone else. All of this is very interesting to me, since as a cyclist, I see things differently. I see automobiles as inconsiderate terrorists that get up right on me, lay on their horn, then roll down the window to spit on me. Of course these are all extreme, worst-case scenarios, but they illustrate the perception that the little guy has for the big guy, and vice-versa. As I see it, the inner dialogue might go something like this:

What Cyclists say to Automobiles / Pedestrians to Cyclists:

“Look out! Don’t you realize how dangerous and scary your size and speed makes you?!”

What Automobiles say to Cyclists / Cyclists to Pedestrians:

“Get out of the way! You’re slowing me down and I have places to go!”

So who’s right? Neither, since both perspectives selfishly insist on seeing the world through their own lenses. The truth is that we all have a right to the road and should respect how each of us chooses to use that road.

As I’ve considered this, I’ve often wondered if this relationship can be applied to employees and leaders. Tell me if this works:

What Employees say to Leaders:

“Look out! Don’t you realize how dangerous and scary your size and speed makes you?!”

What Leaders say to Employees:

“Get out of the way! You’re slowing me down and I have places to go!”

Employees are concerned about their jobs, their ability to earn a living, and their role in the organization. The breakneck speed of change championed by powerful ambitious leaders can be intimidating. In the same way, leaders are concerned about staying competitive, meeting the ever-changing needs of the market, and generally staying in business. Employees that are not motivated by these same factors and are slow to adapt can be perceived as part of the problem and not the solution.

In all cases—whether we look at cyclists, pedestrians, automobiles, or employees and leaders—the answer is to look at the world through the eyes of the other and understand how our values affect the values of the other. Furthermore, leaders and employees need one another. It’s the quintessential symbiotic relationship that ensure that the whole moves forward and thrives. So leaders, think about how your words and actions can be perceived by your employees. And employees, think about how you can help make your leaders’ visions a viable reality. Together everyone will benefit.

Comments are closed.