Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Taking (and Handing over) the Wheel

During the summer months when our family takes a road trip, I end up doing most of the driving. I like it that way. It gives me what I like to call a "modicum of monarchy." Somehow being behind the wheel makes me think I'm in control. In reality, lot of other factors like the weather, traffic, and (rightfully) my wife are there to remind me that I'm not a monarch. I'm really more of a chauffeur. Nevertheless, I like being behind the wheel.

There is a down side to this, of course. That means that I can't watch the movies the kids are enjoying at 70 mph. I can't catch up on email and texts like my wife, Heather, in the "shotgun" chair. I can't read the stack of books I brought along on the trip. I can't even listen to "my music" via earbuds because I only have one good ear. (Believe me, I've tried all these things and I would not recommend them.)

There seems to be a lesson here. Being in the driver's seat gives you some sense of control, but it also comes at a cost. Being in charge is limiting. It's demanding. Those who sit in the driver's seat have to dismiss unnecessary distractions. They must be disciplined to deal with the duties at hand.

Of course, there are always limits to leadership. The leader is human after all. A person can only drive for so long. Some are more capable of leading than others. Some can manage a trip to the department store. Others can lead an expedition across Antarctica. Effective leaders learn to work in tandem with others. Team leadership is usually best for the long haul. In other words, there are times to hand over the wheel to someone else. I'm not the only capable driver in the car. Although I love to drive, I also love to crawl in the back and watch a movie with the kids, catch up on email, read a chapter or two, and (of course) listen to my music in my one good ear.

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