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Leadership Reflections from a ‘Motorbike'-Part 2

| January 22, 2013

by Jim Bruce


Todays Reading,  “Leadership Reflections from a ‘Motorbike,’” Part 2 continues IT•LP reflection written by Michelle Reynolds, alumnus of IT•LP 2012 and Assistant Director for Central IT Support at Cornell.  

Last week Michelle led us to reflect on her first five rules:

   •  Stay alert

   •  Be conscientious of the neighborhood

   •  Visibility is important

   •  Everyone can see things differently

   •   Language barriers exist everywhere


These five rules along with the following five serve as a helpful reminder of some of the key lessons from the Leaders Program.  As you read them, take the time to ask how you are applying this “rule” in your leadership journey?


.  .  .  .     jim



Leadership Reflections from a “Motorbike”


ITLP has opened us up to new ways in approaching things and added items to our toolkit.  Below are some the  things I have learned on my journey as a leader and they have helped guide me to gain confidence and find a stronger voice in our organization.

My leadership reflections started when I was riding into work the other day and was thinking about what to write.  All of a sudden I started comparing the ride on my motorbike to my leadership journey.  Of course, I was on the motorbike so I couldn’t stop to write all my thoughts down, so I had to think of a way to categorize them, thus rules of the road came into play.

10 Rules of the Road  ::  Part 2


6.      Health: It’s important!  – If you don’t feel well the last thing you want to do is hop on your bike and ride in or travel anywhere.  When we think of our leadership energy and health it should follow the same philosophy.  If you don’t have your “game on” be careful what you try to do.  Don’t try to be motivational in a meeting when you have a nasty cold, it’s hard for both you and the team.  Your productivity and health are directly linked, make sure that both you and your team take the time to stay healthy.


7.      Recognize and adapt – Sometimes you will be out on the road and another person will join in behind you.  There are certain rules to riding; one is you don’t ride side by side because if you need to change course quickly to avoid danger the other person will not have time to react because they might not see the same thing.  Riding in a staggered fashion is much safer for everyone on the road.  As leaders are we sometimes trying to compete with our peers at the same point and can’t adjust because we are so busy with our own agenda.  Sometimes it pays to change your position and go backstage to watch what is happening downstage for others.  It can open up a whole new frame of reference for what you are seeing and provide even better ideas.


8.      Be open to feedback – When you are riding, you might not be aware of something you are doing or something that could be going on with your bike.  Remember to be open to feedback from others.  Feedback will come in many different forms as well and make sure you are in tune with the filters we have when we receive feedback.  Even the newest of riders can provide valuable insight.  By letting them know you are open for feedback, it could make your journey much more enjoyable and successful. 


9.      Use three environmental lenses – When you are riding, you have sunglasses to help block the sun, clear glasses when riding at dusk, and night lenses to help illuminate your surroundings at night.  These really are easy to figure out when thinking about what to use.  The political, cultural, and strategic lenses are not so easy.  Sometimes we should think about things through all three to see the whole picture and other times we need to use one or two to try to figure out navigation past an obstacle.   As leaders, make sure to keep using all of them and not just for the problems or obstacles but as a proactive tool to steer out of trouble in advance.


10.   Find what motivates you – Some riders care more about the bike you own then the actual ride. For others if you’re on two wheels and enjoying the ride then that’s all they need.  Many people don’t want to ride and don’t want others to even own the bike.  As leaders, make sure to try to understand what motivates people because it’s not always the same for everyone.  Some want recognition, some want status, others want cold hard cash.  For some it’s the office with a door where others are happy with a cubicle.   Others might want lunch once in a while and just recognition or a thank you.  There are some that want promotions and others are happy with the job that they have.  In your role, remember the best thing you can give that is free is praise, feedback, and thanks. 


These are reflections on my leadership journey while being perched on a Suzuki C50 Touring Boulevard, that is where I find a lot of my “iTime”.   I am looking forward to the next 1,000 miles.


FYI – Someone once asked me what it meant when two bikes pass and they drop their left hand down to each other.  That is actually a gesture of acknowledgment, respect, and a way to express that “It is a great day to be riding!”.   I wonder what that would look like if leaders started their own trend.