The People You Lead Don’t Use their Turn Signals

Now, that’s interesting. What does using your turn signals have to do with leadership? That depends on what you think the purpose of a turn signal is anyway. Turn signals on a vehicle are intended to communicate your intentions, they are a way to share information, to document and broadcast to everyone around you that something is about to happen. Also, for the most part, the use of turn signals is mandated by law. So why then do the majority of drivers I encounter never signal their intentions of turning left or right or changing lanes? Let’s ignore the issues of distractions behind the wheel – the use of cell phones, applying makeup, shaving, reading books – and assume that people are not naturally pre-disposed to sharing information with people around them, even when required by law! Ah, the leadership dilemma then, enabling collaboration across individuals and teams, enhancing the level of information sharing and insuring that everyone is effectively communicating in such a way as to maximize the productivity of the entire team.
Clearly, just saying that something is required may not cut it (use of turn signals is mandated through laws). Making it very simple may not cut it (there is not a much simpler process that engaging a turn signal). The only way to instill information sharing is by making its value to the entire team perfectly clear, and then insuring that the entire team’s success is dependent on each individual participating to their fullest. Setting an example at the top of the organization through copious communication, through documentation, through sharing and by eliminating all roadblocks to sharing of information is the only way to set the tone, to establish the short and long term culture of collaboration.

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