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A Leadership Principle Found while Driving Rhoneil Anthony G. Gabriel

Saying that driving in the Philippines is difficult is like saying that World War II was unpleasant. It’s a gross understatement. In fact, traffic rules here are not really rules; they’re more like extremely polite suggestions. They’re like those Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) numbers on cereal boxes. Nobody says, “Oh no, I can’t eat more than a cup of cereals or I’ll exceed my Vitamin C intake.” In the Philippines, RDA numbers on cereal boxes, speed limits on highways, they’re all the same. We also have a menagerie of delightful traffic experiences: We have tricycles and jeepneys stopping wherever they want. You actually have to wait your turn to use the road. We also have motorcycles passing us left and right like spaceships in warp speed. Sometimes I wish my car has laser turrets. They’ll make driving here more pleasurable. Lastly, we have pedestrians crossing the road while sending text messages. They’re completely unaware that they too are about to be sent…to everlasting life. In the province where I live, it is not uncommon to see dogs, goats, cows and horses crossing the road. Cats and chickens cross too, we but run over them so they don’t count. 1


It has to do with my Road Kill Threshold (RKT):

Hs,a ≤ 2Rw/ Where, Hs,a is the shoulder height of the animal, Rw is the radius of wheel of your vehicle. Using this threshold formula, if you drive a car, you can safely run over cats and chickens. With an 18-wheeler, you can start running over dogs and goats! September 2009. Rhoneil works as a senior quality improvement manager for a global electronics company. He is also a professor in business management in a local university. He lives with his wife and two kids in the suburban town of Tanza Cavite in the Philippines.

I used to explain to my British boss that although traffic rules here are not followed, there are unwritten agreements that everybody understands and abides by. That’s how we get to go home every night—there is order in our chaos. But that’s just BS really. No matter how you look at it, chaos is still just chaos. So, to survive everyday traffic without developing sexual dysfunction or hyperthyroidism 2 , I developed a technique. I look for a competent driver and try to position myself immediately behind him. Once in position, I just watch his car closely and mimic whatever he does. I stop when he stops, I speed-up when he speeds up. Doing this, I don’t need to think so much, I just follow him and let him worry about what’s in front of us. 3 Opposite competent drivers are drivers who are obviously road hazards and drivers who drive too slowly. I when see these drivers on the road, I try to get away from them as quickly as possible. Seriously though I think that following competent drivers and avoiding incompetent ones is a good example of John Maxwell’s Law of Respect. It is part of his book, 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. It is a good book, I recommend you read it. The Law of Respect says that people tend to follow leaders with higher leadership skills than themselves. On the road, this is quite true for me. I’m happy to follow good drivers but never incompetent ones. The law seems valid. If the law is valid, then you could actually measure your leadership level. Ask yourself: In your organization, who are the people who will be willing to follow you? Are any of them high Symptoms associated with chronic stress. I don’t know what hyperthyroidism is, I just get cool terms from the medical dramas I watch. They make me sound smarter.


Note that I intentionally wrote “follow him” and not “follow him or her.” It may sound gender biased, but c’mon, there is a difference between the driving styles of men and women and men are generally better drivers. This is not a generally accepted concept, not because it isn’t true but because of the generally accepted concept that men are all a bunch of wimps when it comes to disagreeing with women. The mere thought of it makes me cringe. 3

ranking? How many are they? If your answers to these questions are leaning towards the poorer side, then you would need to improve. Leadership is an important personal skill.

A Leadership Principle Found while Driving