There I was, comfortably driving on the N1 on my way to have drinks with some friends of mine on the East Rand. Sunglasses, open sunroof and wearing bright colors. This was the day!! As I pass the Rivonia off ramp, I'm in the fast lane driving at about 120km and hour and listening to some really good music. There are about 3 cars driving closely ahead of me and there is one particular BMW 3 series fast approaching me and the driver seems to be in a hurry, the typical BMW thing!! I indicate left and change lanes allowing him to pass, to which he waves and off he goes.
There are now the three cars ahead of him and as he gets closer to them, the one also indicates and gives him way. Two left and the second one does the same.. One more left!! Now this one is a Range Rover Sport.. Black in color and looks like it has all the bells and whistles. The guy driving it looks like a pop star with a few government tenders. I'm now watching this with great anticipation. Let's watch a BMW make a Range Rover Sport move out of the way!
Although the Range Rover is driving at about 120km per hour, he stays on the fast lane.. The BMW is now getting impatient and starts flashing lights.. The Range Rover isn't having any of this!! "How dare you move a Range Rover driving at 120km per hour out of the fast lane just because you can drive faster.." Is the sentence that I assume is going through the Range Rover driver's mind? "Isn't 120km the maximum speed? If so, I am driving at maximum speed and you should stay behind me"
This power play goes on for a good few kilometers and eventually the BMW driver gives up and passes the Range Rover from the left side, something that most drivers find irritating. I then sit there thinking... The guy in the Range Rover must be experiencing a false sense of victory right now!! Ironically it doesn't change the fact that the BMW has passed him and he is now officially behind it... He is happy yet he has lost!! Does he even know that he has lost? I doubt it..
And then the usual thought hits me... The corporate world!! There are always new people coming into the work environment with great experience, great qualifications, a great attitude and fresh ideas yet like the Range Rover Sport, we sit in the fast lane driving at 120km per hour and policing the fast lane!! We make sure these young and energetic BMW's don't ever pass, we make sure their ideas never see the light of day, we make sure they align to "how things are done around here" and ensure that we remind them of all the speed limits as often as we can.. I then often ask the question, what was the point of hiring these clever people at a premium if you will stay in the fast lane oh Range Rover Sport?
Organizations are meant to evolve, adapt to the times and thrive in times of change. The only way this is at all possible is if we are all conscious of our own behaviors. Non of us are as important and irreplaceable as we often think.
In an environment where the Range Rover Sport refuses to move, the BMW passes on the left anyway.. This often means that they leave!! The false sense of victory then becomes "he didn't fit the culture", "she was too ambitious", "he was impossible to manage", "she thought she knew it all" and so on. These in themselves are often delusional statements.
To the Range Rovers, accommodate new ideas, be open to change and look for opportunities to learn from the BMW's and ask questions rather than fight them. How do they go that fast? How do they overtake on the left? Why are they always in a hurry?
To the BMW's, speed kills.. Literally and figuratively!! While passing on the left might give you that thrill and rush of blood to the head, it is illegal and is likely to have consequences. Have some patience, cut down on flashing lights and accommodate the Range Rovers views of the world. There are likely to be some really good reasons why 120km per hour is the appropriate speed. If nothing else, it's more fuel efficient.
Although most of us would never admit to being a Range Rover, Just for this week, my challenge is simple. Look for the BMW's and allow them to pass. When they do, smile and wave. It's ok for someone else to go faster than you, to go further than you and to reach heights you only dreamt of. That in itself is leadership!