Lead like a NASCAR Driver

Most of the leaders we work with are impatient for results. In most cases this is not a bad thing, they bring energy, they drive processes forward and the good ones do it in a fun and inspiring manner. They are the kind of people who lead with the throttle fully open and the pedal to the metal. However, here’s a little secret. The best race car drivers, and leaders, are equally good at slowing down. They have learned to both speed up and slowdown, otherwise they will have a wreck when making that curve. Unlike the racetrack, curves in leadership situations are not as apparent.

Some of the common curves I see in leadership situations are:

  • Strategy development and course corrections
  • Staff selection and promotion
  • Conflict resolution
  • Customer/client service programs

When you face challenges such as these it’s important to remember to take your time to handle them well. You will be rewarded with a quick return for your thoughtful pace.

Here are a few tips to help you navigate those curves:

1. Slowdown and ask questions. Gather those most affected and/or responsible for any given area and ask questions to pull information forward that you may not have considered. It is also helpful in getting buy in from other stakeholders to resolving the challenge.

Here are a few to consider:

“If you were in my position, what is one thing you would do to resolve this challenge?” (ask this prior to the meeting so people can think about it, then have them answer publicly)

“Why is this an important issue?” 

“Who does it affect, internally and externally?"

“Who else do we need to include to ensure resolution?"

2. Navigate through delegation. Once you, or your team, have gathered all the right information, and people, then it’s important to give as much of the responsibility for resolving the issue to others. As a leader you need to get back to your best contribution to the organization and while you may have a part of any given challenge, you should never have it all. Trust your team, stretch their abilities and support their efforts.

If you don’t take time at the front end to slow down during difficult or important situations you will be slowed down later through a blown tire or worse a complete wreck!

Enjoy the drive and let us know how we can help you lead like a NASCAR driver!


Ian Whitfield