A Stable of Plow Horses
People problems are the biggest challenge of leadership. Low performance and lost potential drive you crazy.
The challenge and the answer is people.
A stable of plow horses:
Success begins with the horses.
A stable of plow horses isn’t going to win the Kentucky Derby. It doesn’t matter how much passion or training they have. You need a different race or different horses.
Plow horses love plowing.
Why are you spending so much time planning when the answer begins with the horses? Where can the horses in the barn take you?
Coaching-managers tap the talent and passion of the horses in the barn. You don’t create talent. You develop and release it. You don’t impose passion. You ignite and fan it.
The challenge is, plans are manageable but horses are slippery.
#1. Tap the joy. When you see someone light up, figure out what happened. When you understand their joy, you know how to ignite their passion. Rise above the inclination to judge people by your joy.
#2. Ask “who.”
- Who might know?
- Who cares about this?
- Who has succeeded in the past?
- Who should be reassigned because they’re a drain?
- Who’s chomping at the bit for opportunity?
#3. Eliminate joyless teammates. They’re a burden not an asset.
#4. Provide answers reluctantly. You’re too quick to solve and too slow to ask. Coach people into their answer, when time permits. The answer they find is better than yours, even if it isn’t quite as good. (This is one of the toughest leadership challenges of all.)
#5. Develop next steps with-not-for. Don’t dump your crap on others and walk away. Include those who are both passionate about the issue and applicably talent.
You aren’t the answer. They are. The answer you seek is inside people.
How might leaders better tap the passion and talent of horses in the barn?
I’m delighted to partner with Clarity Development Consulting to offer the proven “Coaching for Engagement” program. Drop me an email if you’d like to explore having Bob Hancox and me come to your organization to develop the coaching skills of your team.
Great post Dan!
Dan a number of organizations use personality tests to try to access their people or to rate them on some scale. But we all start off as Plow Horses or In the military jargon as Privates at the bottom. The key is trying to judge people’s potential as to where they can end up in your firm and then providing the tools, some through Human Resources, but more Mentoring by Managers to bring out all the potential from those entry level Plow Horses. Great post.
@Brad, I too like personality tests, and any way we can “categorize” things or people. lol.
Your comment made me think. What would it be like if we were able to ask others to rate their own potential?
I do see some potholes in that road. I also see some positive too.
What if we were asked to rate our own potential and then somehow be held accountable to reaching some level of our own line we’ve drawn?
Dear Dan ,
First of all thanks for posting this kind of fire wrapped blog and it’s a local to global is the problem same.
But question arise like Hen or Egg or like people for rules or rules for the people.
In leadership position without people even you can’t dreamt of any kind of success revolution.
I personally feel firmly like battle horses are better then the barn horses.
Leadership comprised of three things 1. People 2. Processes 3. Values with boldness.
First of all identify the internal resources and make clear whether they are coachable or not.
Right people are the biggest resources of any organisation.
Termination is the last option , every body has optimum passion simply ignite that and miracle starts.
What drives people , it’s very simple to understand like happiness at work place and this directly proportionate to passion which leads to higher productivity ,
1. Create passion 2. Understand people with personal values 3. Create coaching culture 4. Understand vulnerable points of departments and closed immediately such gaps 5. Upper crust must sit with middle management on weekly tea parties , informally . 6. Allow your people to be the part of organisation on defined values and goal.
Now its easy to identify wrong elements smoothly take them out.
From here a right coach can be hired or from within create coaches.
Adversity is the mother of opportunity, so trust people gain commitment with ownership.
Happiness starts ……. growth starts ……
Nice Vinay! Have an afternoon tea! I love this thought; leadership needs to be engaged with all levels.
Urban Dictionary: ‘Worker Bee; Job title for people who do all of the hard work but get none of the credit’. Truth be told. People, Bees, and Plow Horses want a job to do and… the recognition and reward that they are doing the job right. Weak leaders get too involved in their own ‘stuff’ and forget to passionately reinforce. We need to be reminded that we are all of the same cloth, we are all human, and we are ALL CONNECTED; we need each other.
Cheers, Happy Holidays!
Thanks a lot Melanie. Working on few leadership models. It will take 1 more year time. I would like to submit my research work , can you help me which university would be better for me or any other good platform.
“Coach people into their answer, when time permits. The answer they find is better than yours, even if it isn’t quite as good.”
I love this!
This hits the nail right in the horseshoe, love it.
#3. Eliminate joyless teammates – Its often difficult for leaders to eliminate competent teammates that have no joy. They feel that they can turn the person around and help them find joy in their work. Taking ownership of someone else’s career for them won’t shift their mindset. Only they can make that choice or you must make a different choice for them by moving them out of your team. Failing to do so just sucks the joy out of you and the rest of your team.
I love #4, and I need to do it more!!
Merry Christmas Dan. Thanks for this post. I especially appreciate the comment, “You aren’t the answer. They are. The answer you seek is inside people.” If we are not careful, leadership can become about the leader.