Dogs harnessed and pulling a sleigh in winter

Finishing “Safely”

Published On: October 11, 2022By Categories: Leadership

Mushers have to be really good planners.  They don’t have to know exactly how things are going to work, but they have to have a pretty good idea of how they want to run the race.

In dogsledding, there are Mushers who just want to finish the race. That’s okay. They want to finish and do it safely. And then there are Mushers that want to win; yet, I don’ think anyone who’s effective as a Musher want to win “unsafely”.

What does “safely” mean?  It means the sled, the dogs, the payload, and the musher all get there intact. No one is sacrificed. There’s no such thing as a good outcome when dogs die, where the payload is lost, if the sled gets broken, where the race is never completed or the Musher is injured. None of those outcomes are good outcomes.

If the dogs get across the line healthy and intact, and the payload gets across the line intact, nine times out of ten so will the Musher.  But if you have some idea that you’re going to get across the finish line without those components, it doesn’t make any sense: you’re going to walk across the line?  I don’t think any dog sled race is going to give you a blue ribbon for walking across the line without the sled or without the dogs for that matter.   Besides, you can’t run in -60Fo weather (at least not for long)!

So, everybody must cross the line together.

First and foremost, a really good Musher has to care about the “weal,” or welfare of the team. S/he must be less interested in his or her personal success, because if the team succeeds, the leader will succeed.

Mushers have to be very driven and win oriented, but they also have to be highly inclusive. This is what “Self-Interested Caretaking™” is all about.  It’s extremely rare for a CEO to be successful without taking care of their team. Simply being a servant to the team denies the real fact that the team has put its confidence in the leader in the first place, with specific expectations as to the making of hard choices, having vision, and exercising wisdom in the management of the enterprise.

Leaders (the Mushers) must be Self-Interested Caretakers to win the race. Any true win will contemplate the safety and collective interests of the team.

A question:  how does a team know if and how it can trust a leader?

New? Start here.

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One Comment

  1. Chris Fralic October 4, 2010 at 6:58 am - Reply

    Dave – great to see you blogging and mushing!

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