Originally posted June 10, 2013
Who would you rather have on your leadership team- a collection of Clydesdales, or a team of racehorses?
Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.
Every leader worth their salt wants to be surrounded by a team if high-octane go-getters. But along with the energy, ‘buzz’ and drive that these racehorses can bring, they can also bring relentless headaches.
Because while they often deliver great results, racehorse leaders have a tendency to be strong-willed, narrow in their focus, and resistant to coaching.
So how do you as a leader corral these kinds of leaders?
I’ve been fortunate to have surrounded myself with a number of racehorse leaders over the years. And in my experience these have been the 5 keys to leading them well.
1. Pour fuel on their fire
As challenging as they can be to lead and manage, your racehorses will bring your organization disproportionate results compared to your ‘Clydesdales’.
Keep your racehorses motivated and fired up.
2. Earn mutual trust
Racehorse leaders will often defend their tendency to break formation and run ahead of the team by saying, “Look, just trust me on this.”
But trust is earned, not given. Give them the extra running room they seek, and provide the resources to help them succeed. But make it clear that with greater freedom comes the expectation of greater results.
That’s how you build mutual trust.
3. Keep the big vision crystal clear
As your racehorse leaders are picking up speed and gaining success they can sometimes lose sight of the “big picture” vision of the church or organization.
To keep these performers on target, your job will be to continually re-cast the vision.
4. Be direct when their plan drifts outside the vision
Sometimes the raw energy of your racehorse leaders will see them start to color outside the lines, and they’ll move beyond the vision of your church or organization.
When this happens be direct. Let them know they’ve overstepped their bounds.
5. Repeat step 1
Don’t look upon your racehorses as a burden to carry. Far from it; these can be your most prized, highest producing performers.
Just be sure to pay attention to these guidelines as you lead them.
They’ll help all of you successfully cross the finish line.
How do you maximize the contributions of your racehorses?