Things Feel Different in the Passenger’s Seat

(296 words, 3-minute read)

Individuals in leadership positions are in the driver’s seat.

When you’re the driver, you have control of the wheel … at least until autonomous vehicles become the norm. 

You not only know where we’re going, but more about each decision you’ll make along the way. You’re proactive, on offense, moving things forward.

In the passenger seats, things feel different.

We don’t have the same sense of control and comfort with our speed, direction, degree of the turns, etc. 

We can’t prepare for your sudden veer left or rapid acceleration because we don’t know they are coming.

We’re on defense, reacting to what’s happening to us.

What’s true in the car may also be true right now in your life, your community, your organization. Overall, more people in more situations find themselves in more of a defensive position than usual, managing and reacting to the changing conditions of the current challenging environment.

Despite present uncertainty, individuals in leadership positions still must go on the offensive and take action. We have to put both hands on the wheel and try to steer the organization through these difficult moments.

You’ve likely charted an initial path, anticipated adjustments to make along the way, have your hand on the gear shift, and are ready to accelerate and brake as feedback indicates.

But it won’t look or feel quite that same way to your friends, family, or colleagues if they’re only strapped into the passenger seats. They don’t want to be taken for a ride, particularly right now.

Rather than relegate them to back seat drivers whose hesitance you may interpret as resistance, elevate and engage them as co-navigators for the journey. Communicate more often and more frequently about the final destination, the paths being pursued, the milestones to measure progress, and the planned rest stops along the way.


Jeffrey Cufaude is a long-time member of the LeaderShape community, having served as an Institute Co-Lead facilitator, presenter at Co-Lead training, and contributor to curriculum for both the Institute and Catalyst. He blogs at and can be found on Twitter @jc46202.

He currently does limited consulting on learning experience design, organizational development issues, and building facilitators’ competence and confidence.

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