Leadership Spotlight

Stuck in Autopilot?

A stock image of traffic backed up on a highway.

The daily commute to work can become routine, predictable, and mundane. Trying to get from one point to another while avoiding traffic, congestion, and aggravation quickly can turn into a chore.

Perhaps your brain stays in a fog, wandering as you attempt to focus on stoplights, cars, intersections, and pedestrians. Such mindless driving can lead to adverse circumstances.

Can this analogy apply to how you lead? Do you regularly take the same course of action, make the same choices, and arrive at the same conclusions because it is expedient and expected? Have you become just a “cog in the wheel” of this mentality?

What happens when you settle into autopilot? Others may feel forced to follow in your redundant path, afraid to think outside the box and demonstrate initiative and creativity.

As a leader, you must guide your agency—and community—with integrity and purpose. So, pause, pull over in the rest stop, and adjust your GPS. Reconsider how you reach your decisions and formulate your leadership vision. Take into account your pedigree, upbringing, formal and informal education, skill set, and personality. Further, contemplate the realities of your department’s culture and how you can tactfully reorient outdated cultures, practices, and thought processes.

Your self-awareness, reflection, and courage will set you on a course where even your commute becomes a journey with wonders and important lessons on the way. Most important, they will help you refocus on the mission ahead.

Supervisory Special Agent Edward C. Yeung of the Executive Programs Instruction Unit at the FBI Academy prepared this Leadership Spotlight. He can be reached at ecyeung@fbiacademy.gov.