How is the view?

The Lead DogThat great southern philosopher, Lewis Grizzard, once said; “If you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.

Let me give you a few minutes to visualize that picture.   –  –  –  Do you have a mental picture?  What do you see?

Yup, you see the northern end of a southbound dog.  Picturesque, isn’t it?

But here is the point that Grizzard unwittingly (or maybe not so unwittingly) makes.  He is making a point that we need to strive to be leaders and to strive to lead the pack.  We should not just be content to run with the pack.  And that is a great point.  But I think there is a greater point to be made here.

The greater point is about the actual role and behavior of the leader.  Although the guy in the parka that stands on the back of the sled has all of the outward appearance of being a leader.  He in fact is not.  He is the encourager.  He is the one who exhorts us on.  He may even be the one with authority and the power of the whip if he chooses to use it.  But, he is not the leader.  I would submit to you that leadership is by example, not by command.

The leader is the number 1 dog out in front.  That dog is the one that the other dogs follow.  He sets the pace and the actual path the sled will take within the confines of the terrain and environment.

So, what is the leadership principle here?

Leadership is not standing on the back of the sled yelling, “Mush!”  Leadership is getting into the harness with the other dogs and being willing to shoulder the load and pull the sled.  These days we suffer under far too many “mushers” and far too few real leaders.

Alas, if you are a musher, I know what your view will be for the rest of the journey.  What are you looking at?

Are you looking at open road ahead?  If so, you are leading.

Are you looking at wagging tails?  Well then, I guess we know what that makes you, don’t we?


Photo credit: drurydrama (Len Radin) / / CC BY-NC-SA

3 Replies to “How is the view?”

  1. Leaders must appreciate both views – the one that the Lead Dog enjoys and the one that the Musher has. The important thing for a leader to know is when do be the Lead Dog and when to be the Musher. A really good leader trains and empowers others to be able to be the Lead Dog and does not mind being the Musher – poor view and all. In fact, sometimes the Musher (and good leader) can take advantage of the perspective and sight lines being a musher provides to identify new directions for the team, looking back at the team’s path and successes, and to take in the vistas of the environment facing the team.

    1. Steve, I hear what you are saying. And I don’t fully disagree. But, I am not in favor of leading from the back. I think the position of a leader is out in front where he/she can lead by example and inspire with his/her actions. And I recently filled out a survey for hiring a new senior pastor at my church. And one of the survey questions equated leadership with being visionary. I think those can reside within the same individual. But they are not necessarily always found together in a leaders qualities.

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