This article was first published in June 2012. It’s been updated due to its popularity and is being re-posted following our return from Portugal where I’m happy to report we encountered some of the world’s most polite motorists.
While people all over the world are hitting the road, auto travel is down.
In the U.S., Memorial Day weekend travel a few days ago hit an 11-year low driven by high fuel prices and overall economic uncertainty. Approximately 39.2 million people traveled 50 miles or more, which was an 8.3 percent increase over 2021, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
I travel a lot and I drive a lot. In the course of my speaking career I’ve spoken on five continents and by the end of 2022 I will have delivered more than 600 talks.
Common Courtesy is Uncommon
Maybe I’m more of a curmudgeon or perhaps I’m paying closer attention.
People are less courteous drivers than I remember.
One clue: Drivers are using their turn indicators less than ever. Turn indicators might as well be options on the cars of some drivers. Or are some automobiles simply running low on blinker fluid?
Perhaps you’ve experienced something like this: You’re stopped in a turn lane waiting for an oncoming car to pass only to have the car turn without signaling. Gee, you think, I could’ve made my turn if I’d known the person in the other car was going to slow down and turn.
Offenders cross every demographic. A person driving a Mercedes is just as likely to not signal as a driver in a truck. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, one in four drivers fails to use a signal when turning.
It’s even worse for younger drivers. Drivers 18 to 24 say they don’t use their turn indicators. Perhaps doing so interferes with talking and texting while driving.
From where I sit, it’s not just a safety issue or a matter of courtesy. It’s also a communications issue.
What’s Your Story?
Because I provide executive coaching and leadership development, I think about how behaviors in one area of a person’s life (driving a car, for instance) might show up in another place (like leading a team at work).
So I believe blinkers tell a story about a person. How a person uses – or doesn’t use – the turn indicators on their car may provide insight into how that person behaves in the workplace. Here are a few scenarios:
Accountability is a hot topic for the leaders I work with, and communications plays a huge role in driving accountability.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve collected data from more than 10,000 CEOs, owners, presidents, partners and key executives worldwide. In my book – Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture – a whopping 69% say they can do a better job when it comes to communicating.
Clarity Creates Confidence
A leader who fails to communicate expectations has him or herself to blame for lack of accountability.
Clarity creates confidence. Confusion causes chaos.
So while few solutions are ever as simple as one, two, three, consider these steps for driving accountability in your organization:
Container Store founder Kip Tindell says, “Communication and leadership are the same thing.”
What story does your blinker tell?
How are you doing at driving accountability in your organization?
To dive even deeper into the topic of accountability, I invite you to purchase a copy of my bestselling book, “Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture.”
Business schools teach case studies. Hollywood blockbusters are inspired by true events.
Exceptional leaders are students of history. Decision-making comes with the territory.