Bridge Closed! A Leadership Opportunity
Updated: Feb 28
“Luck comes to a man who puts himself in the way of it. You went where something might be found and you found something, simple as that.” – Louis L’Amour, To the Far Blue Mountains
Photo Credit: www.BigStockPhoto.com
I always enjoy sharing this story. Some time ago, I had the pleasure of joining an executive coaching client on a local group bike ride. As a cycling enthusiast, I always welcome such opportunities and have a number of clients who are excellent riders.
Our route was north out of Naples, Florida up the coast to the Ft. Myers beach area – a 40-mile round trip ride — most of the route being on a small strip of land between the gulf to the west and the bay and river to the east — a scenic and very popular route, and the only route connecting the Naples beach area with the Ft. Myers beach area. There are also about five bridges each way — giving us an even better view of the waterways.
As we rode north, we encountered a number of other small groups of riders, noting that two or three were ahead of us. At the 20-mile halfway point, we turned around to return south and found a nice tailwind that allowed us to pick up our pace a bit. About 5 miles into the return trip we began approaching a draw bridge and began to slow down our pace.
We noticed a crowd of people standing at the top of the bridge and a line of stopped cars leading up to the bridge. As we got closer, we realized that all of the people at the top were other cyclists on their way back south. We rode up along-side several of those and were told that the draw bridge was “stuck” in a partially open position and that traffic had been stopped by the bridge officials until it could be fixed.
So….we waited. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes — this was NOT looking good and was not how we all had planned to spend our Saturday morning. The line of cars grew longer, some turning around, but no “action” on the bridge situation.
A few minutes later, a police officer drove up, got out of her car, and informed us that it MAY be 30 minutes before an electrician would arrive to fix the bridge mechanism, and perhaps longer than that to actually fix it. Not good news. It was getting hot; there was no shade, and we had already ridden 25 miles, with limited water remaining in our water bottles.
What to do? We considered our options: (1) Wait, or (2) Turn around and head north and take the long way home, which would be an EXTRA 20+ miles. All of us — approximately 20 fellow cyclists — considered those options. A small group turned around and said they would find a place to stop and eat breakfast and just wait it out.
My CLIENT had another idea …. He walked his bike up to the crest of the bridge … to review and confirm the nature of the “situation.” How bad was the “obstacle?” How serious was it really? WAS it impassable for a bicycle?
The rest of us FOLLOWED. We were all curious.
At the top, we noted that the draw bridge had, in fact, malfunctioned, but there was only an 8-inch (maybe less) step down from the movable platform of the draw bridge (with no “gap”) to the cement-way of the south side of the bridge (an obstacle for a car, NOT a bike). We simply stepped down, got on our bikes, looked at each other with a subtle sense of embarrassment, and rode south …. back to our starting point.
LEADERS lead the way.
LEADERS question assumptions.
LEADERS take “risks” and display boldness.
LEADERS take initiative.
Many of the cyclists we encountered at the bridge that morning were business owners and executives — leaders in their own right. I knew all of them. We also had at least one executive coach in the group … that being me.
But …. only one of us LEAD in that situation. The fact that it was my client was a great feeling. He beamed with satisfaction that he had taken the initiative and LEAD the way to a successful resolution.
What situations are you facing where there MAY be assumptions that COULD be questioned? Take the initiative …. investigate, ask, confirm, then reconfirm.
The solution may be EASIER THAN YOU THINK!
Andy Robinson, Executive Coach
"Helping CEO's and executives maximize their influence and impact."