Leadership Lessons from a Road Trip

Last week, I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, to join a group of our staff and volunteers for the Orange Conference. I couldn’t help but consider some valuable lessons I continue to learn about leadership during my journey.

Great leaders have a plan.  Before I set out on my journey, I developed a plan.  What time do I need to arrive?  Considering Atlanta traffic, what time do I need to leave? What time do I need to get up?  Is my alarm set?  Have I completed my packing?  The list could go on and on but you get the idea.  Great leaders have a plan.  Where are we going?  What is the most effective and healthy route to get there?   What traffic jams or roadblocks do I need to prepare myself to experience?  Do you have a plan as a leader?

Great leaders understand the need for a guide.  On my journey I had several guides – the Waze app, maps on iPhone, a traffic app, even a printed map.  I have made this road trip dozens of times.  I know the way.  As a matter of fact, I know multiple routes.  Yet, I still rely upon a guide while driving.  Great leaders understand the need for a guide.  As a follower of Christ, I know I need to listen to His voice and His desires as I seek to lead others.  He has created me and created others and He has a plan. Who or what is guiding you?

Great leaders understand the need for rest. As I developed my plan, I intended to awaken at 5:30am.  I had a few things to take care of at the office before I departed. I couldn’t go to bed at midnight and expect to be prepared for the journey.  God designed us for rest and rhythms.  Great leaders understand they cannot accomplish everything in one day.  As a leader I must rest.  If I am not rested as a leader, I grow frustrated with people and processes.  If I am not rested as a leader, I grow easily distracted.  Great leaders are well-rested.  Are you resting?

Great leaders are flexible when detours are encountered. The return trip was going great.  I was making excellent time until the just South of Chattanooga, TN.  There was a back up due to a bridge being repaired. With only 1 1/2 hours remaining, I experienced a detour that forced me off the interstate through several small communities.  I am sure that they are lovely areas with lovely people.  However, at this point in the journey I wanted to be at my destination.  As a leader I must be flexible because detours will come.  There are times when detours are the result of my own poor decisions.  There are other times when God brings detours to cause me to trust Him rather than my own ability to drive. What potential detours will disrupt your ability to lead?

Great leaders enjoy the journey and allow others to do the same.  Maybe my favorite aspect of a road trip is the conversation that happens naturally during travel.  That is what makes the journey memorable.  Even though I was traveling alone, I made multiple phone calls to friends who live out of state and some who are local. It’s easy to focus on getting to the destination and checking things off my list.  But what makes the journey memorable are relationships. What makes the journey are the connections I have with those I have the privilege of leading.  As a leader enjoy the journey and allow others to do the same. Are you enjoying the journey?  Would others on the journey agree?

I love the joy that comes from leading others.  I want to continue to learn to be a better leader.  What’s the most valuable lesson of leadership you have learned within the last month?

Speaking of driving, watch this if you need a laugh… 🙂


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