May 15, 2009 Chris Fuller

Most leaders are given the direction and told to ‘Mush’ the team in that direction

Most of us have control over our personal vision – our personal “Burled Arch”. However, very few of us have control over the Organization’s “Burled Arch”. For the vast majority of leaders, you are handed a destination, given the direction and told to ‘Mush’ the team in that direction. Operationally, you may have some flexibility on How it gets done but for the most part mid-level leaders are limited.

I don’t have time on the Friday blog to unpack all of the positions on the team, but let me introduce them to you and let’s round table what that might look like in your organization – or your ‘Sled Team’.

In most organizations, there are sled teams within sled teams within sled teams. You are the musher of your team – and you play a role in the team that is organizationally tiered above you. In Dog Sled Teams, there are four positions apart from the musher. The first position is ‘Lead Dog’, followed by ‘Swing Dog’, ‘Team Dogs’, and, lastly, ‘Wheel Dogs’.

Lead Dogs sniff out the trail, show the way and set the pace. Swing dogs are partners with the Lead Dogs. They help with the leadership of the team, but more specifically, they influence the rest of the team to follow the lead dogs’ lead. Team Dogs provide the power, the energy, and do most of the ‘heavy lifting’ (i.e. they make the widgets). Wheel Dogs provide additional power and help steer the sled. They are a strong force and they play a vital role in steadying the sled.

Within your organization, what is the role you most naturally play? Are you one of the first to lead out, find the direction, and start pulling in that direction? Then you’re playing the role of ‘Lead Dog’.

Do you take the lead and energy from the Lead Dogs and use your influence to get the rest of the team on board? Are you the ‘motivator’ of the group? Then you’re playing the role of ‘Swing Dog’.

Are those things too stressful? Does your strength lie in getting things done? When the team hands you something are you the ‘go-to’, get it done player? Then you’re playing the role of ‘Team Dog’.

Lastly, are you a steadying force? Do you provide much needed, solid council to your musher that helps them turn the sled and direct the team? Are you there and ready with the wisdom of someone who has been on the team a while and has the knowledge and understanding from being ‘long in the tooth’? That’s the role of the ‘Wheel Dog’.

Do you play more than one of these roles?

In our sessions we spend time and unpack all of these at a deeper level and teach people how to maximize their roles and increase their organizational value, but for today, can you own one of those positions? When it comes to organizational vision and your role within the team, you must find some way to add value to the over-arching mission – the organizational ‘Burled Arch’.

Wrap up for the week..

Are you ready to leave the lodge? Great achievements rarely take place in the Lazy Boy.

Musher’s carry the 3 gallon pot – for the ‘clear water’ of IDITAROD. Have you taken the time to dream about your ‘Burled Arch’? Have you filled your pot with all of your hopes and dream?

Musher’s carry the components for fire. If you haven’t taken the time to think about your ‘Fire components’ of Oxygen (passions / desires / skillset), Fuel (growth / learning / personal Kaizen), and Heat (line it out, write it down) set that time aside today or this weekend.

HAB 22 – Break the dream down into checkpoints, know the ABC’s of the dream and the A before Q components of what are my next 5 checkpoints or steps.

Lastly, what role do I play in my organizations vision and moving the team forward as a player, as well as a musher.

Thanks for being a part of the journey this week!

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