I watched an episode of “Life Below Zero” recently, which is based in Alaska. The topic of the episode I watched was on the development of sled dogs. The owner of the dogs in focus uses them for his own productivity and survival and trains others on how to properly develop and use them.
A wonderful illustration was given about the importance of utilizing the main dogs as well as training up younger ones. The owner had one particular dog who was well up in years and was the most experienced one of the group. He said, “you have to train young dogs and work them in with the older dogs. If you don’t, and your lead dogs get injured or something happens to them, you will be in trouble.” A demonstration was given of how the younger dogs are first taught to just follow along with the pack, and then eventually are worked in and harnessed with the other dogs. Then eventually they are capable of leading on their own.
I started thinking about how important this is in leadership. If the key leader does everything, or most things, as long as he remains healthy and strong, the organization can carry on. If he ages, or loses effectiveness, or has some other challenge, or leaves, the overall health and even the survival of the organization can be at stake.
Leaders should develop and raise up other leaders. The lead dog is not a good lead dog unless he is modeling for those in training how to be a lead dog. A leader who shares responsibility and develops others not only does so for their benefit, but for the health and perpetuity of the organization he leads.