Motorcycle Leadership: What you S.E.E. is what you get

May 17, 2013

Leadership and ManagementYour leadership and management skills can be dramatically improved by taking a page out of the motorcycling playbook. This past weekend I took a training course in how to drive a motorcycle from Rider Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota. To say I stretched myself would be an understatement. I was left fatigued at the end of each 9 hour day.

Riding a motorcycle is such an intellectual and physical activity; I now better appreciate the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. You must be continually mindful of yourself, the machine, and the environment you’re riding in. My instructor kept repeating the acronym S.E.E., which stands for Search, Evaluate, and Execute. It helped me stay focused, and, it can help leaders stay focused on their work as well.


This is what great leadership and management talent are always doing. They are constantly scanning their organization for episodic events, dissonance, or anomalies (internal or external). Searching isn’t limited to vision, of course. Leaders frequently search by asking questions of everyone and anyone.


Detection of an opportunity or an obstacle is important, but leaders must do more than just search. They must evaluate what they’ve found. They must consider the potential impact on the current course or plan. Many leaders skip this step–because there are too many variables, they feel like they have too much on their plates already, or they simply don’t want to make adjustments. Some events, of course, pass by like a log in the river with no disturbance to the flow of the organization or the operating environment. But some obstacles will knock your organization off course. It’s the leader’s job to evaluate what the impact will or might be. At CO2 Partners, we’ve found that the GPSing model can be enormously helpful for leaders in this regard. It helps them reconfigure strategy around their goal and current position.


Once you have a clear understanding of what you see and what impact it will have on your trajectory, it is time to act. Leadership and management must modify the plan with all needed staff to build understanding, engagement, alignment, and accountability to ensure the execution happens with minimal disturbance.

What you SEE is what you get. As a leader, keep those eyes open, evaluate what you see or learn, and be ready to execute.

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