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4 Leadership Lessons from the Pace Car


I can remember the first Indy 500 I watched.  Specifically, I can recall my captivation with the “pace car.”

The very first pace car I watched "set the pace" was a Chevy Corvette driven by Jim Rathmann. I remember asking my friends in the room “what exactly does a 'pace' car do and why is it needed?”  Without any hesitation someone in the room replied “it paces the drivers to ensure they are up to speed and ready to start the race.”

I now realize that the “pace car” is actually a “pace setter" and it does more than just "set" the speed.  

When I think of coaching, teaching, mentoring etc., it is evident that "pace setting" is a quality of effective leaders.

Pace setting creates opportunities to grow success by setting expectations.

4 Leadership Lessons from the Pace Car

#1 - The pace car ensures that the track is safe.

Effective leaders ensure that organizational culture is both physically and emotionally safe. Yes, the "pace setter" may be circling the track with cars following like ducklings, but, at the end of the day the "pace setter" is monitoring the track for surface safety, unseen obstacles and anything that may pose a safety risk to those in the race. Effective leaders do this for the teams they lead.

#2 - The pace car confirms all participants are on the track and engaged.

Effective leaders "take roll" (figuratively). They ensure those they lead are active participants with an understanding of purpose. Further, they ensure those they lead in the correct place and mentally engaged into what is being done. At the onset of projects they ensure an even, priority-based safe start (literally).

#3 - The pace car establishes a manageable and starting speed.

Effective leaders establish expectations. Like the pace car, they set the speed and ensure that "starting speeds" are clearly established and manageable.

#4 - The pace car exits the track and monitors the race.

Effective leaders allow the "racers" to race (figuratively). They do this by stepping back and avoiding "micromanagement" at all costs (literally.) Further, effective leaders monitor "what" is happening and when they are needed, they, like a pace car on the track under a caution flag, step back into the role of pace setting.


Your "track" may be a classroom, an amusement park, or a hospital. Regardless, if you are a leader, you set the pace.


Failing to understand the value of "setting the pace" on "what" you do may slow personal and organizational success and growth.


As always – if you would like to learn more about this topic - or - book me to speak with your organization, operators are standing by!

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