Running on Empty?

The outside of my car looks fine. But inside, there are all sorts of warning signs. A lesson for leaders….pay attention to what’s going on under the hood…

I got into my car on Saturday morning to take one of my kids to soccer and this display is what was staring back at me. Ugh. Anyone who is running late knows the feeling of extreme annoyance of being left with an empty gas tank!

But this post isn’t a rant about my wife leaving me high and dry – the truth is, I did this to myself. She had nothing to do with it.

If you look closely at the display, there are actually THREE warning lights – fuel, tire pressure, and overdue maintenance. From the outside, it looks like a perfectly good car.

On the inside, it’s another story altogether. It’s throwing up warning after warning begging to be cared for. Or at least paid attention to. And I’ve been ignoring it.

Ever felt like this in the workplace?

This is a good reminder for leaders to have some empathy for colleagues who may look perfectly put together on the outside but have warning lights flashing internally. The truth is, we rarely know what’s really going on in people’s lives. We need to remember that the next time we complain about someone or pester them for something. 

It was also a good reminder for me as a leader to take care of myself. Pushing through the warning lights isn’t good for anyone, most of all me.  

These reminders are especially important for new leaders, who may be hyper-focused on proving themselves, ignoring internal warning lights. 

Leadership is about people. Looking under the hood sometimes pays dividends.

Strong leaders model good self-care behavior. They also pay attention to employee wellness. 

By the way, we made it to soccer in time. Next time I’ll double check the gas.

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