What is Musher Management™?
Musher Management is a leadership philosophy and set of managerial practices which are based upon the operating metaphor of a fully-teamed dogsled. Based in part on the principles espoused by Robert K. Greenleaf’s servant-leadership, Musher Management places the posture and influence of the leader (Chief Executive, Executive-in-Charge) in the rear of the group, where the leader becomes focused more on the construction and caretaking of the team, and on the establishment of processes and protocols to ensure that individuals of the team well understand their unique role, the inter-relatedness of the individual’s role to the roles of others, and how to conduct themselves within the team.
As a practice, Musher Management fully exploits the physical realities of the dogsled team construction, the art and practice of driving a dogsled, the care and keep of the dogs, the qualities of a high-performing Musher, planning and executing a race, problem solving, and the like as devices which inform and bring to life the metaphor of the dogsled as a business enterprise
In the philosophy of Musher Management, the Leader, or Musher, subjugates his or her own personal interests, (and attendant frailties like the politics of position and power, ego satisfaction, and fears about incompetence) to the needs of the individuals on the team. By doing so, the Musher commits to the strength of the individuals on the team, and the team itself, in the spirit that the team in turn will help the Musher to achieve his or her personal and professional goals. In the spirit of the dog sledding metaphor, if the team does not win, the Leader cannot win. If the dogs cross the finish line without the Leader or the sled, the team cannot win, and as a corollary, the Leader cannot declare victory when crossing the finish line without the dogsled or team intact. Hence, Musher Management is a leadership philosophy centered around the principle of “self-interested caretaking”.
Musher Management is about leading from the rear. It is about having the courage to allow your team to do what it does best. It is about establishing trusting relationships between the CEO and the team, and equally important, about facilitating that same trust among and throughout the team.
Leading from the rear takes a leap of faith in others, but it is not a leap you take without some careful preparation. Having the right people in the right roles, and having those people well understand what is expected of them is critical to establishing a trust-based leadership team. Leading from behind is also a bit scary as it challenges our traditional thoughts about leadership – the entitlement, the ego satisfaction, the romantic notions of leading — and puts CEO’s last in line.
However, imagine the incredible satisfaction in discovering that instead of having one person concerned about and committed to your success (YOU) you now have many — and those many people will make you successful!