Manager and Driver – A comparison.

Can you judge a person’s managerial potential, competence and capability by observing his driving style?

First let us analyze who is a good driver before comparing a driver with a manager.

What is expected of a good driver?

  1. Drive you and others safely from place to place.
  2. The passengers should feel comfortable and stress free while travelling.
  3. Reach the destination as fast as possible without making accidents.
  4. Take good care of the car.

What is expected of a good Manager?

  1. To lead a team successfully and achieve the organizational objectives.
  2. All employees should feel motivated and excited to work under the leader in spite of challenging external market or economic conditions.
  3. Meet all legal and statutory obligations, achieve business objectives and provide growth and learning opportunities to all employees.
  4. Keep the organization ready for any challenges today and for tomorrow.

Good Driver vs. Good Manager

  1. Driving is an intelligent activity and only an intelligent person can become a good driver. Needless to say, a good Manager must be bright and intelligent and is able to deal with concepts and complexity comfortably.
  2. Know the road and traffic rules and sign. A good Manager must have a clear understanding about the market, technology and rules and regulations governing the proper management of an enterprise.
  3. Develop excellent skills in maneuvering the vehicle through bad roads and heavy traffic. A good manager must have the ability to see ahead clearly, anticipate consequences and implement decisions to ensure success under any adverse circumstances.
  4. Basic knowledge about the vehicle and essential maintenance is a must. A Manager must have good knowledge about his company, its products, markets and customer expectations to lead the team successfully.
  5. Self-discipline is very important to be a good driver. Ignoring speed limits, one way traffic rules, parking regulations, road signs etc. indicate lack of integrity and ethics. A manager must be a trustworthy person who adheres to certain values and principles to manage the organization in good as well as bad times.
  6. A driver must know his way around. If not, enquire and learn about the best and shortest route to the destination in advance. It is never good to stop vehicle multiple times on the way to enquire about the route or get delayed to reach the destination because a wrong route was taken. Keen understanding about the markets, customer expectations and company products are essential to drive business and ensure success of the team.
  7. Check weather and traffic conditions before leaving home for a long distance travel. A Manager must validate every plan with ground realities and arrive at realistic estimates before setting the objectives. Too optimistic or overly pessimistic plans can lead to failure.
  8. Understand and anticipate other driver’s behavior. Accidents can happen not only because you did not drive properly but also due to the mistake of others. Driver behavior also differs from place to place and city to city. A Manager must be able to understand individual as well as group behavior, why they do what they do, their intentions and needs to lead the team successfully without major dissentions and disillusionment.
  9. Be careful about large vehicles, particularly trucks and transport buses. It doesn’t matter that you are driving on the right lane or following the rules, in an accident you won’t be there to explain the truth. Learning to respect authority is critical in any job.
  10. Be calm and composed while driving, even when the situation is disturbing and difficult. A good Manager must be calm and composed under pressure and should not become defensive or tense when situations are tough.
  11. Check and ensure clear vision before starting the vehicle. Clean the front glass if required.
  12. Check your co-passengers. They should not be distracting you while driving. Building effective teams who supports and compliments each other is mandatory for any organization to succeed and this is one of the critical success factors for any Manager.
  13. Be smooth. Let the passengers be not unduly discomforted while travelling. Best drivers are smooth drivers. Managers must plan all their activities and inform the team members in advance so that they can also plan their professional and personal lives accordingly. Do not bring rapid organizational or process changes unless it is mandated by sharply declining performance or adverse external circumstances.
  14. Be confident, particularly when you are planning to overtake another vehicle. Make your judgment whether it is safe to overtake and go ahead once the decision is taken. Do not change your decision half way through the process. Making decisions in a timely manner with incomplete information under tight deadlines are everyday affair for many managers. Not taking decision is as good as bad decisions.  
  15. In case you are going for a long distance drive that lasts more than 5 hours, ensure that the driver has had enough rest before to ensure he is fit and alert for the highway travel.
  16. Never take alcoholic drinks, drugs or other mood elevating substances before a long drive which increases your risk taking attitude without proper judgment.
  17. Safety is always a priority. Ensure the driver and all the passengers are wearing their seat belts, particularly in the highways. Risk taking ability is important for progress but not so much that it destroys the very fiber of the organization.
  18. Attitude – if you do not have the right attitude it won’t matter how much knowledge or skill you have, you won’t be a good driver. Neither a good Manager. Attitude determines your altitude!

I have gone around with Drivers who are extremely careful and drive slowly to avoid any potential accidents. So also with drivers who drives extremely fast to an extend that you are sitting very uncomfortably in the car. But I always prefer those drivers who drive fast very carefully and reach the destination earlier.

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