Simon Terry

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Texting while leading

texting while driving

This morning, a car passed in front of me as I drove through the traffic.  The driver’s head was down looking a phone. An example of a driver taking risks by distracting their attention from a complex system in a rapidly changing environment. A driver who assumes that things aren’t going to change much and that the car can continue on business as usual while their attention is elsewhere. Importantly, they chose to put their attention somewhere that they can’t have much impact while driving a car. 

We know driving and texting is dangerous.  Studies show it impedes performance of drivers more than alcohol.

Do we ever consider how dangerous it is to lead while using a smartphone?

  • Others notice your lack of attention to the issue that was worth your presence and that changes their attitudes and behaviour
  • Things aren’t going to stay the same while you are distracted because the environment is complex and challenging.  That’s why the issue was worth your presence
  • You made the issue more challenging and complex by changing people’s attitudes and behaviour to the issue at hand.
  • Great leadership requires presence and attention to others and to the detail of the situation.
  • Great leadership is purposeful.  Responding to emails, texts and calls is shifting from your agenda to the agenda of others.
  • You can’t usually do much that has a meaningful leadership impact about the emails, texts and calls but you are surrendering a huge leadership impact on the task you have at hand.

So next time you feel tempted to pull out the smartphone while leading, ask yourself:

‘Is it really safe?’


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