Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Leaders look around

Sydney's roads (like those of most other major cities) are usually crowded and there are seldom enough lanes to satisfy drivers trying to get from point A to point B. The problem is compounded when cars are allowed to stop and/or park by the kerb with the result that another traffic lane is taken out of play.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not against the use of cars and I don't oppose parking in shopping precincts (even when it means parking at the side of the road) and I'm not trying to redesign Sydney's roads so that they are wider and can take more traffic. No, my concern is with people who don't seem to pay much attention to the impact their stopped or parked car has on other traffic.

Think about it.

How often do you see a car come to a stop and, with no apparent attention to the traffic, the driver's door opens and, sometimes after what seems to be an eternity, a person slowly alights and does whatever else they intend to do. Sometimes this "whatever else they intend to do" includes opening the passenger door on the same side and allowing children to alight with traffic streaming past. All too often this will involve a parent getting a baby out of a baby capsule or a child out of a safety seat which is a process that takes a fair bit of time - all the while with the door open and endangering both those at the car and passing traffic. In even worse cases the process will be further delayed while the parent attends to their child's needs such as changing a nappy.

I have a lot of understanding of where the parent is coming from - I have 5 children (now all grown up) and 4 grandchildren - but I do not understand why some thought is not paid to the dangers of tending children or allowing passengers to alight under such a dangerous manner. A bit of thought and planning when getting people into the car and/or when reaching one's destination means that dealing with baby or children and allowing passengers to alight can be performed much more safely for everyone when done from the doors of the car closest to the kerb. It just requires a bit of thought and foresight. No "rocket science" involved.

Many leaders in politics, business, religious groups, and society at large seem to have the same "not thinking" attitude when it comes to their operations. Like parents and responsible drivers - most of whom genuinely care for their children's / passengers' safety - either they do things that are inherently dangerous or they allow their people to take risks that could and should be avoided. Elliott Jaques ("Requisite Organization", 1998, Cason Hall & Co) talks about the need for managers and leaders to consider the broader picture as well as the immediate issues being dealt with. In fact he makes the point that if you can't see the bigger picture and deal with things from a broader perspective, you probably shouldn't be in a management or leadership role.

Leaders (even parents and car drivers) need to look around and see the bigger picture.

More information about Doug Long at http://www.dglong.com

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