Maximize a Racehorse Without Getting Trampled

Incompetent leaders hire for fire and spend most of their time putting it out.

Racehorses are fun to watch and dangerous to manage.

racing horse

Racehorses irritate the heck out of plow horses.

Racehorses are flashy glory hounds who quit too soon and whine too much.

Racehorse weaknesses:

  1. Don’t play well with others.
  2. Don’t like being told what to do, more than most.
  3. Like telling others what to do.
  4. Big egos.
  5. Frequent frustration.
  6. Discouragement when things don’t go their way.
  7. Poor team builders.

Compensate for weaknesses after establishing baselines of performance and behavior.

4 considerations before including racehorses:

  1. Organizational culture. How many racehorses are already on the team?
  2. Previous integration. How have racehorses done in the past?
  3. Scope and impact of projects. Racehorses fail more than plow horses.
  4. Strong team dynamics. What’s the orientation of top management to conflict? Are teammates equipped to celebrate diversity, confront destructive behavior,  and navigate tension?

Whipping people into line often results in whipping the fire out of them.

Skillful leaders maximize the potential of racehorses.


7 ways to maximize a racehorse:

  1. Explain values in behavioral terms. This is how we treat each other. No exceptions.
  2. Map vision clearly. Give them direction and purpose or they’ll run in every direction.
  3. Set boundaries. Tell them what they can’t do and where they can’t go.
  4. Pop the gate but stay close. Racehorses need more attention than plow horses. Monitor budgets, relationships, and their energy.
  5. Fuel fire by turning to the future. Celebrating wins is OK, but racehorses love new goals.
  6. Lay the law down once in a while or they’ll walk all over you. Say no clearly.
  7. Watch for injuries and self-destructive behaviors. Racehorses are temperamental. Take stuff off their plates. Clarify their focus.

Those with unique strengths and talents have unique faults and weaknesses.

Are you a mismanaged racehorse? What’s going wrong?

How can leaders maximize the potential of racehorses?