May is the time when many people think about planning their vacations, and oftentimes, that vacation involves a “road trip.” No matter if you’re an entrepreneur or staff member in a company, road trips and vacations are nice getaways and can help recharge your batteries. Generally, we all need time and space to recharge our batteries.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about life and business and how all of it is like a road trip. A road trip in business-terms is a continual vacation and not just a once- or twice-a-year event. Because when people are on vacation, they have to constantly make decisions about what clothes and essentials to pack, the route they’re going to take, the vehicle they’re going to use and if they’re going to fly or drive.
They need a map to guide them, places they will stop and eat, or shop, places they will visit, expectations from the trip and people they will interact with. This is what you do on a road trip. But this is also what you do throughout life whether it’s in your personal, business or academic world. And all of these incorporate some trait of leadership that’s within you. You are the entrepreneur of your world.
Within these leadership and entrepreneurship attributes, there are four traits that contribute to whether you’re a good leader or a bad leader. Those are: positive attitude, honesty, listening to your inner voice and trust. I’ll explain further how each one affects your road trip and leadership style.
Think about this: What skills or talents can you as a business leader or team member bring to the table?
We’re all on journeys. Personal and business. We’re all on road trips in life. Just like it’s important to get fellow travelers’ opinions and ideas about the road trip, it’s important to do this if you’re having a meeting or planning an event at work. This encourages teamwork and it helps the co-workers feel valued.
1. Positive attitude
An important part of planning your road trip is your attitude. As you plan your road trip, what are your expectations? Are they positive or negative? If you go into a situation feeling negative, you immediately impact everything that you will experience as a way to validate your preconceived notion.
For example, if a fellow traveler says, “I don’t want to go to Orlando, Florida in the springtime. It will rain every day.” And then, you proceed to go to Florida, and it does rain every day, your travel companion says, “See? I told you it would rain!”
If you are negative about your journey, you will constantly be on the lookout for things that reinforce that negativity. For that “See, I told you so” moment. Unfortunately, along the way, because you’re looking for the negative, you may have missed some wonderful opportunities for enrichment and enjoyment.
Attitude is everything and is just as impactful on your road trip as it is in the workplace. It’s important to have a positive attitude instead of negative, but sometimes, you can take that negative attitude and put a spin on it, making it a positive.
In the workplace, you might find gratification and satisfaction in pointing out the errors others make. Many people who are trying to make themselves feel more important will do this. By pointing out negatives in others, it makes them feel superior. Now you might think of this as a very negative trait, and it can be. But, if you thrive on that negative feeling, you can turn it into a positive by explaining to others ahead of time that you have this tendency.
Point it out as a “positive” to demonstrate that the overall goal is a perfect product, and by catching these items you are only doing your job. Explain that it isn’t personal when you point out the negatives in a decision or a product -- that you are only thinking of the company and bottom line. When you do this, you put yourself in a leadership role whether you are the boss or not. And you are turning your “negative” into a “positive.”
Planning a road trip can bring out the worst and best of people -- just like your work environment can. If you continually emphasize the negative with your fellow travelers without putting a spin on it and pointing out the positives, then, people won’t want to travel with you ever again, and in the workplace, they won’t want to work with you.
2. Listening to the inner voice
Part of maintaining a positive attitude while planning your road trip or conducting your “trip” at work, means trusting yourself to make good decisions. We all have an inner voice that is driven from our knowledge of our “self.” The better you know your tendencies and thought processes, the more likely you will be able to acknowledge your true self. This is your true voice -- and this voice never lies to you. We don’t always listen to this inner voice, however, but it’s important to tune into that voice.
Use your inner voice to assist your leadership role in the workplace. It is important not to confuse this inner voice with irrational feelings. When we get overly emotional, angry or frustrated, we tend to act before we thoroughly think through the situation. By taking a moment to think about your options, your true “inner” voice will guide you with ideas for the best course of action based upon what you are most comfortable with or most qualified to do.
No matter what your leadership style is, there’s one quality that should be taken for granted -- but it’s not. Not everyone has this quality, and this can cause many problems on your “road trip at work” and your journey in business and life. And that’s honesty.
In the workplace, you need to be able to identify who will give you an honest answer. Are you listening to the real experts? Too often, internal expertise is overlooked in favor or external guidance.
To be an effective leader, you must trust yourself and your abilities. Being your true self in the workplace provides an avenue for you to offer genuine qualities that others can respect and admire. Attributes like a positive attitude, honesty and listening to your inner voice.
All of our experiences are part of who we are and our leadership abilities surface when needed. It’s how we exist and how we survive, and in difficult times, it might be the one thing that sets you apart from others.
On a road trip, there are times when you are not in control, and the way you handle these situations can define who you are as a leader. If you’re a passenger in a car, on an airplane or on a cruise, you do not have control of the vehicle. You have to know how to let go of control.
Those who feel uncomfortable and have a tough time letting go may find themselves with a team of individuals in the workplace that view them as a micromanager or one who does not provide trust in others.
Trust is the root of not wanting to let go. We can all find things to occupy ourselves, but refusal to let go can demonstrate your ability to trust only what you can do. When people hand in their work or turn in a project, do you review it for errors? If so, you may be displaying a lack of trust. If you trusted that person, you would have confidence that it was thoroughly checked before handing the work in.
Leaders and entrepreneurs must be willing to let go if they desire to have a true trusting relationship with their staff members. Leaders recognize what each person needs to do their job successfully and ensures that the environment around them supports their talents and abilities.
What type of road trip are you planning this summer? Is it designed to enrich your life or learn something? Are you going somewhere to help others, to volunteer your services or learn a new skill? Are you ready?
Likewise, as an entrepreneur or leader in business, are you ready?
No matter what kind of road trip you’re on -- in life and in business -- our road trips bring us “back to us” and help us establish an ongoing process of self-recognition, self-definition and self-awareness.