The most important job of a leader is to get your fast horses to run faster. Every business is a people business (every problem is a people problem) and the fast horses are the people that make your organization thrive. The fast horses set the pace. They show what can be achieved. They bring energy to the team, and they raise the bar. Perhaps most importantly, they attract other fast horses.
They are also a pain in the ass. A leader recently said to me, "My fast horse is my biggest headache, and I wish I had ten more like him." Every leader knows the double edged truth of that statement. What is less obvious is that the way to get ten more like him, will be to get him to run faster.
In my last newsletter I mentioned the movie “Secretariat.” I saw the movie with a friend who is an entrepreneur and has owned his own business for over twenty years. We talked about the principle of getting fast horses to run faster and he observed that fast horses are threatening to those around them. They threaten not only the slow horses but also most of their bosses. There is a certain sense of insecurity in having fast horses around. They make the slow horses feel even slower, and they make the leader work harder.
The difference between great leaders and poor leaders is that rather than encourage and affirm the fast horses, poor leaders try to keep them down. In other words, poor leaders try to get their fast horses to run slower – not faster – because poor leaders work out of their own insecurity and are threatened by fast horses. Additionally, poor leaders are afraid of losing their slow horses and fear that the slow horses will be intimidated by a fast horse.
Great leaders know that the paradigm is exactly the opposite of what poor leaders think. Great leaders know that it is good to be challenged by fast horses, and to have slow horses see what "fast" looks like.
The leader challenged by a fast horse is forced to be more creative and to dive into the depths of his business in ways he never dreamed of. The challenged leader becomes a better leader.
If you are a leader, your most important job is to look at your team and find the fast horses. If you don’t have any, then the first order of business is to get some. If you do have some fast horses, then your job is to get them to run faster and that is done by encouraging and affirming who they are at their Core – particularly in how it relates to their role of leadership within the organization.
For the Creating and Perfecting Core Motivators it will be a question of accelerated tasks that challenge them at a deeper level. For the Caring, Serving and Giving Core Motivators it will be the quality of the opportunities to engage people with tasks. For the Relationship and Belonging Core Motivators it will be to challenge them with greater depth and extensions of their relationships.
Every person has a desire to be stretched; to use the core of who they are to the farthest limits of their imagination, while avoiding the temptation to live outside of their Core Motivator.
The principle work of a great leader is to know his/her people at a deep enough level that they are able to match the tasks of the organization with the people on the team in a way that stretches each member to “run fast” out of who they are. Do you know who your fast horses are? Do you know how to get them to run faster? Are you able to be honest enough with yourself to know if you are encouraging your fast horses to run faster or not?
Know who you are and be it!