Leading an Organization is Like Driving a Car

Leading an organization is just like driving a car…

Okay, it’s not exactly like that, but leading an organization is hard work, regardless of the size of the organization or even the strength of a team. It is often difficult to think through all the issues that the leader should be considering. I have found it helpful at times to compare organizational health and success to other things I may understand even more; things I do everyday. For example, I can consider the health of the team in an organization by comparing it to the dynamics of family relationships. This type exercise helps me clarify principles of organizations I might not otherwise think about and create a paradigm of leadership that hopefully makes leading easier. It’s simply a tool to help you brainstorm.

Recently I thought about how organizations have a great deal in common with the road system most of us use everyday. I began thinking how leading an organization can at times be like driving a car and it helped me process some issues relative to our organizational health.

For example, any organization has:

Freeways - Sometimes the organization can proceed quickly, with limited interruption. (We like those times.)

Potholes - Small things often slow the organization down, but progress continues. (We should take time to address potholes before they become major road damage.)

Detours - Often the organization is still heading for the same end goal, but may be forced to go at it from a different direction. (Too many times, instead of detouring we change our destination.)

Speed bumps - There are times we need to slow down, reflect on where we are, adjust our speed, and continue forward. (We can’t always keep the pace of the freeway, so we consider when a speed bump is in order.)

Exits - These provide a safe way off the freeway to refuel, relax, and readjust the direction. (We shouldn’t wait too long to find the needed exit, even if it’s for a short bathroom break! I learned that one from my wife :) )

Accidents - Accidents can be our fault or the fault of another, but they often set us back for a period of time. (See what needs repairing, what needs replacing, and when to call it a “total loss”.)

Flat tires – At times, team members can be injured by simply wearing out, a serious puncture wound, or damage caused by another. (Leaders should always be watching the health of the tires.)

Road signs - In every organization, there are signs which the leader needs to learn to recognize…when momentum slows, when people are stressed, or when the vision needs refueling. (Don’t ignore the directional or the warning signs.)

The list of these imageries could continue much longer. You could attach ideas to things such as stop lights, reverse, neutral, intersections, road rage, etc…anything that helps you think, but by now you should have the idea I’m working with…what other road illustrations could you make as they relate to organizational success?

You can carry these thoughts even further than I have, with how to address each issue, how addressing them with your travel would relate to how you address them in the organization, and how each one impacts you safely reaching your destination. Again, this is just a framework by which to help you think through more complex organizational issues about which you may not otherwise think.

Can you see how an exercise like this can be helpful in thinking through organizational health and success?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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14 thoughts on “Leading an Organization is Like Driving a Car

  1. Leading an organization is very difficult because a lot of things has to keep in mind at the time of leading an organization. Some special skills is required for proper management of an organization. Similarly driving a car is also difficult because a lot of things has to keep in mind else accident can happen at any moment. Careful driving and following traffic rules are two major factor for avoiding accident.

  2. Yes, this is true that to lead an organisation it is very much difficult and yes this also true that it is quite difficult like driving a car. Cars are the luxurious invention that we all know so, as we notice any bug in it we have to maintain it and have to repair it from good repair center that charges reasonably and provide good services. .

  3. Car accidents are really bad that we all know and also we know that these accidents happen only because of two reasons. One is because of the careless driving and another is for the vehicles break down. So, to avoid these accidents we have to drive our car carefully and properly and also we have to repair our vehicle from good repair centers whenever required to avoid our vehicles break down and for its smoother running. .

  4. yes, I am completely agree with this post. In both the cases I mean like driving a car or leading an organization is more difficult work. After having a car if we are not going to maintain our car then it will throw problem and likewise if we have no particular aim then we can not lead an organization. So, we have to maintain our car like we have to service it after particular kilometers of run and also we have to repair our cars from good BMW service and repair in Tarzana centers whenever required to get better performance from it and for our cars smoother running. .

  5. Car means you need to see many factors before buying a new one. You need to see the mileage, All the parts are good or not, The AC facility also available or not many factors. Electric car is really a very good invention which is providing all the facilities were getting in the normal cars as well as it makes our society pollution free. Now a day it is available in all the showrooms .This blog contains details information about the electric cars and also the facilities provided.
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  6. Managing an organization is some different quality that not present in everyone. This type of work needs a sharp mind and lots of patient. You should be very sincere and dedicate towards your work. It helps to increase the official growth. Just like driving a car. Riding a car very easy but riding a car properly is not that much easy. Anyone can drive a car but according to me and from my own experience women can ride a car properly and in a comfortable manner than man.
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  7. Really it is a nice article. Making yourself an entrepreneur is not a small thing, you have to be more sincere about your work, must lunch good products that user can appreciate like this there are several steps that a person have to follow to become an good entrepreneur. Like cars if we are not driving the car carefully accidents may happen likewise if we are not going to check our every step in business we may be lost and have to face a lot of problems.
    As car is a matter described here I have to say something that for our cars to run smoothly and also to avoid accidents we have to maintain our cars and also have to repair them from good Mercedes Happy Valley Oregon repair centers. .

  8. Comparison in leading an organization with driving car is fantastic idea. Leading an organization is difficult but if one follows certain rules and regulations, he can run organization smoothly, like driving with care and follows traffic rules avoid accident.

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  9. I've often thought of the physical car as the structure/roles of the organization, the map as the vision that God has given the church, the road is the strategy, and the fuel as the resources, etc.

  10. In this case, I can’t add to the discussion. Sorry! You do make some wonderful points, I just can’t add to them.
    Twitter: bryankr