October 21st, 2011
…is a term I’ver heard used over the years for someone who “steps up and takes charge when no other obvious choice exists”. In other words, leadership. If you stop and ponder what an actual bus driver is charged with every time he or she gets behind the wheel and draw the corollary to leadership, it aligns pretty well.
Let’s look at a few examples:
The main goal or mission of a bus driver is to safely and efficiently transport passengers from point A to point B and to do it in such a manner that the passenger has pleasant trip and the destination is achieved. A person in a leadership role, say, a project manager, is charged with guiding a team safely through the hazards and pot holes of the given task and meet the objectives, milestones and ultimatly the goal whereby team members complete the project to everyone’s satisfaction. The shared vision is accomplished and this part of the journey is complete.
A strong leader is also responsible for sending clear and decisive signals to its team and external stakeholder groups along the way. Signals that would indicate right or left turns in the project’s direction or when additional resources are needed to go those last few miles to the finish line. Driving the bus requires similar attention to communication of direction and knowing when the fuel is not going to get the bus and it’s passengers to the destination. The person charged with ‘driving the bus’ not only must manage the team during its journey, but also apply strong customer service skills both internally and externally.
The corelation between a leader and a bus driver may seem somewhat pedestrian, but I’m reminded that leadership happens at all levels of an organization from the night janitor to the CEO. The basic principles apply: Establish the shared vision, communicate the directions, identify resources needed and safely navigate the pot holes to a successful conclusion. Above all else, insure there is support from the very top….the person who drives the big bus.