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.

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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.

People first:

#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.”

  1. Who might know?
  2. Who cares about this?
  3. Who has succeeded in the past?
  4. Who should be reassigned because they’re a drain?
  5. 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.