Welcome to The Dare to Scale Show

Episode 3

Snow Runners & The Leadership Lessons We Learn From It

In today's podcast, we recall our Alaska trip to share with you the lessons we've gained about leadership from an unlikely sport – dog sledding.

Dog mushing is a form of transportation where you sit in a sled pulled by a team of dogs. The team is usually made up of 4 or more pairs – the lead pair, swing pair, team pair, and the wheel pair. Each dog is selected based on their unique personality and capabilities, and they all serve different roles depending on their position within the pack. The team is led by the musher who stands at the very back. Tune in to find out what these strong, resilient dogs can teach us about becoming a better leader.

"Culture drives great results." – Jack Welch, CEO of GE

Episode Highlights:
  • Lesson #1: Who do you trust as the fearless leader within your company? How are your instructions being cascaded through the ranks?
  • Lesson #2: Who is in control of your vision, strategy and overall journey of the company when things are either going too fast or going a different direction?
  • Lesson #3: Be a servant leader and lead from the back. Allow your team to take the spotlight and trust them to move your goals or vision forward.
  • Lesson #4: Communicate clearly and effectively with everyone on your team.

Action Steps

How does communication flow within your company? How effective is it and how is it filtered through the ranks? Does that communication flow both ways?

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Episode Transcript
Warsha 0:01
Welcome to the Dare to Scale show with me Warsha.
 
Evan 0:05
And Me, Evan.
 
Warsha 0:06
So, what is Dare to Scale? Over the years that we've been coaching founders and business owners, much like yourselves, we work through a framework called Dare to Scale.
 
Evan 0:17
Dare to Scale, indeed, that framework has helped loads of business owners. And that is what this show is all about. So put on your big picture, thinking hat.
 
Warsha 0:28
Oh, and your headphones, and come join us and enjoy the ride.
 
Warsha 0:37
Hello everybody!
 
Evan 0:38
Hi. Welcome to the Dare to Scale show. I am Evan your host.
 
Warsha 0:43
And I'm Warsha.
 
Evan 0:45
So, today we actually have something a little bit different to talk about. These are leadership lessons in a slightly different context. So, about a year and a half ago, Warsha and I were in Alaska.
 
Warsha 0:45
For the first time.
 
Evan 0:45
Oh! for the first time Yes, and we got somewhat I was gonna say bitten, but that could be wrong because of the frost and the snow and the cold and all the rest of it. No, no, we were completely healthy. What we did was we got the bug. And we absolutely love Alaska. what we ended up doing on that first trip because we've we've been back since and what we did on that first trip was to go dog mushing and the leadership lesson is the dog musher working with his team.
 
Warsha 1:30
Yep.
 
Evan 1:31
And Warsha is going to take over because she can articulate the story a lot better than I can.
 
Warsha 1:34
Well, actually, let me first start by explaining what mushing means. This is dog sledding. You sit in a sled, and you're pulled by a team of dogs. It is one of the most unique experiences of your life. If you ever have a chance to do it, we would highly, highly recommend.
 
Evan 1:54
Indeed!
 
Warsha 1:54
There is so much to learn from these Hardy, resilient dogs. There is so much to learn anyway, from people who live in the snow. People who live in the mountains. They are strong, resilient, they are incredibly resourceful and they take life as it comes, they take charge of their life. But anyway, I digress.
 
Evan 2:15
You do?
 
Warsha 2:16
We are talking about.
 
Evan 2:18
Leadership lessons.
 
Warsha 2:19
Leadership lessons from the snow runners. And the snow runners are the dogs, the Huskies, and the malamutes. Who form part of the team that pull your sled and the driver who stands behind the sled is called the Musher, m u s h e r, the Musher.
 
Evan 2:41
the Musher, Yep.
 
Warsha 2:42
So, what are these leadership lessons, we decided to take this little dog sledding trip to experience what it's like, just because we were there, why not? We get over there. We arrived there. And we were introduced to all the dogs in the kennels. And as most animals are, including us, human beings, we all have our own personalities.
 
Evan 3.05
We do.
 
Warsha 3:05
We have our own capabilities, we have our own way of dealing with life, we have our own way of leading.
 
Evan 3:13
Yes, within the hierarchy. And
 
Warsha 3:14
Within the hierarchy, we have our own way of leading, because it's important to remember that when we talk about leaders, and leadership's it's usually in the context of business, or politics, or thought leadership, forgetting that we are all leaders, every single one of us in one way or the other, in our own way we are leaders. And that's what we learned with these wonderful, wonderful creatures who become a team who worked together as a team when they are part of this sled,
 
Evan 3:52
Of course!
 
Warsha 3:52
So, what are those leadership lessons. When you sit on the sled, you know, you're sitting behind a whole string of dogs or pairs of dogs who are pulling the sled and the musher. He stands behind you and he controls the brakes. So, there are typically at the very least four pairs of dogs that pull a sled. The first pair right in the front are the lead pair,
 
Evan 4:23
Of course!
 
Warsha 4:24
And in the lead pair, there is one leader.
 
Evan 4:28
And only one.
 
Warsha 4:29
And only one. And that dog is the leader. That dog is selected to be the leader based on the dog's personality, the confidence, the ability to lead the ability to not so much take the decisions but the innate confidence to accept the decisions and run with it.
 
Evan 4:49
Indeed, but the dog must have smarts.
 
Warsha 4:51
The dog must have smarts and that confidence is what makes him the leader of the pack because everybody else follows him without question. Because the place that trust in Him, so you have the lead pair. And behind them behind the immediate lead pair are the swing dogs, the swing dogs are the ones who follow the direction taken by the lead dog. So, the pairs behind them which are the team dogs, which are the runners can follow. So the lead dogs take the direction, the swing dogs follow that direction for the rest of them to turn into.
 
Evan 5:28
Absolutely!
 
Warsha 5:29
The team dogs were the runners, and behind them the closest pair so there can be several teams of team dogs, several pairs of team dogs, depending on how long is that that journey and how heavy a load are they carrying. And the pair which is right next to the sled are called the wheel dogs. So, they are basically the wheels of their entire carriage. So they are the ones who are leading the sled.
 
Evan 5:57
Indeed!
 
Warsha 5:58
To follow the team dogs.
 
Evan 5:59
Yes!
 
Warsha 6:00
And then you have the sled and behind you Who is the musher is the one who's actually calling the shots. So, what is that leadership lesson over here? The lesson to learn over here, which we learned because we had this fantastic musher who was explaining all this to us, who is a fair distance from the lead pair is actually only talking to the captain of the ship, who is talking to the leader of the pack, his instructions are only for the leader of the pack.
 
Evan 6:31
Everybody else knows this.
 
Warsha 6:32
And everybody else knows this, then the lead dog is cascading that information to the pairs behind him for that entire carriage to make its way. So, what's the lesson again, over here, within your companies, you as a founder? Who are you talking to? Who are you giving those instruction? Not too much instructions, too. But who is your first follower within the company? Who is that leader within your company? Who is your second in command? Or even your CEO? So, if your company is large enough, and you are a founder have stepped back? Who in your company is getting that founders DNA forward? Who is your fearless leader within the company
 
Evan 7:15
Indeed!
 
Warsha 7:16
And how strongly is that founders DNA cascading from that leader in your company? who is the CEO of your company? And how is it being cascaded all the way down through the ranks up to the front line?
 
Evan 7:32
Tell me something. So, what happens if the sled starts going too fast? Which is an analogy for your business?
 
Warsha 7:39
Oh, is the musher who is right at the back who has control of the brakes?
 
Evan 7:45
Ah, secret weapon.
 
Warsha 7:46
Secret weapon.
 
Evan 7:46
And yet extremely important.
 
Warsha 7:48
Extremely important, and that musher is the one who is a controlling the strategy, if you will, is controlling the vision and the overall journey of the company. And that persons also there in case things are not going according to plan can very slowly touch the brakes to say, hang on, hang on for a minute, going too fast. Make sure that we are capable to keep that speed and that speed is sustainable.
 
Evan 8:17
Indeed!
 
Warsha 8:17
So, to me, that was also a lesson in servant leadership. He's leading from the back, his team takes the spotlight, his team takes precedence.
 
Evan 8:28
That musher was amazing.
 
Warsha 8:29
He was so amazing.
 
Evan 8:31
What was really fascinating for us was, we'd got on the sled, we went for half the ride, stop there had a quick break. And that's when the musher actually spoke to us. And he said, Oh, are you interested in how this works? Absolutely. And he said, Well, I'm talking to this guy. And this is the, and he explained the hierarchy that was just actually explained to us. And he did fairly quickly, obviously, because we were out on the, in the cold, you know.
 
Warsha 8:58
In the cold we were bundled up.
 
Evan 9:01
And it was really amazing, because he said, I'm talking to this guy over here. And when we got going again, there was a time when we got to a fork in the path and the lead dog. Now we knew what to look for. We were watching. He was listening, because we were approaching the fork. And he didn't know which way to go. He was he was earning to the right. But the musher actually wanted him to go left. So, it was interesting. We heard and you can hardly hear the guy.
 
Warsha 9:28
Yeah!
 
Evan 9:29
It's a very soft communication. And it's just whatever it is the dog can hear it. And he got this turn left. And off we went.
 
Warsha 9:37
Yeah!
 
Evan 9:38
It was incredible. absolutely incredible.
 
Warsha 9:39
It really was. And the reason why I chose to talk about this today Evan is because I'm constantly reminded by a quote by Jack Welch, who said, culture drives great results.
 
Evan 9:53
To write.
 
Warsha 9:54
And to make sure that you have the right culture in place. You've got to have the right people who fit into the culture as well.
 
Evan 10:00
Absolutely!
 
Warsha 10:01
And when you have the right people, it is important that everybody knows what they're doing there knows their roles, like the team of that dog sled, everybody knows their roles, they are selected for each role because of their capabilities. And they all know what they need to be doing to make sure that the carriage keeps moving forward. And it's all underscored by clean, clear communication filtered through the ranks.
 
Evan 10:29
I agree. Without the clear communication, it really is a very, very tough job.
 
Warsha 10:35
It is!
 
Evan 10:36
Doing getting anything done.
 
Warsha 10:37
It is.
 
Evan 10:37
And to get stuff done, you need to be able to get everybody aligned and moving.
 
Warsha 10:41
Yeah. So, here's your actionable step for today. Tell us how does communication flow within your company? how effective is it? And how is it filtered through the ranks
 
Evan 10:54
Very, very important. And does it flow both ways?
 
Warsha 10:58
Very nice oooo.
 
Evan 10:59
Because if you're not listening to the people on the front line, there's a good chance you're missing opportunities.
 
Warsha 11:05
Very, very nice. I love that. And we're going to be doing a full episode on what on the two questions you ask your team on a regular basis. But more on that when we get to that episode.
 
Evan 11:18
Of course.
 
Warsha 11:18
For now, join the conversations on our Facebook page and tell us how does communication flow in your company?
 
Evan 11:27
Exactly!
 
Warsha 11:28
Fantastic. Thank you so much for staying with us till the end, we enjoy telling you a little bit about our trip to Alaska.
 
Evan 11:35
Indeed. And there's no such thing as cold so long as you've got the right equipment, and you are rubbed up properly.
 
Warsha 11:41
And you are rubbed up properly.
 
Evan 11:42
And just have fun.
 
Warsha 11:42
Fun is the name of the game.
 
Evan 11:44
Indeed!
 
Warsha 11:45
We're looking forward to seeing you over there. In the meantime, remember to subscribe on whatever platform you're listening on. And come join us at daretoscale.fm.
 
Evan 11:55
Absolutely. And give us a five-star rating. So other entrepreneurs like you can actually find this podcast, get the value and get the help that they need scaling forward in their business. I will see you next time. Thank you for listening and thank you for staying with us to the end. See ya!
Meet your hosts:
Warsha Joshi and Evan Le Clus
We are business mentors and business owners operating out of the vibrant city of Dubai, UAE.
 
We love helping dreams become a reality by bringing about the transformation from Founder to Leader, Consultant to Business Owner.
 
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