Dogsledding as a metaphor for leadership

In 1994, I met the owner of a huskie farm who just had moved from Alaska back to Norway. His dream was to live of dog sledding.
He taught me “the art of dog sledding” which truly is a metaphor for leadership. I was so enthusiastic about it that I told him that when I come with my groups, we will harness the dogs, and he will tell them what I learned from him. He thought that was a bad idea because it is his JOB to prepare everything.
After explaining to him that I would like to give more content and not only consumption, he understood and became the first “musher” (dog sledder) who did this in Norway.

The philosophy of dogsledding

The leading dog has special characteristics, and they are often female dogs. The main quality is that he/she “knows” the strengths of every dog in the team and can motivate the team so that they all give their best.

He/she also has a nearly telepathic connection to the musher which is important when they are in long races and the musher is the “boss”. That connection is crucial for the entire team.

The dogs are getting socialized just after birth so that they get used to humans and feel love and trust. When they are about 6-9 months, they start dragging something (like a sledge) as long as they have fun with it. That means they love they work and always gibe their best because it is based on joy.

Actual project

In 1998, we had a group invited by DHL where the goal was that the guests at the end of trip say “DU-you”  instead of the German “Sie” which is our polite form.

2 people were sharing a sledge and had to harness the dogs themselves whereby the musher explained the philosophy of dog sledding and off we went.

The first night we slept in mother nature in big Lappish tents and had first to take care of our new friends before gathering around the fire.

Already then, the polite form of “you-Sie” simply did not make any sense, so naturally they switched to the “du” and started to share much more in depth about the day,  their work, life and thoughts.

The next day we stayed at a farm which we reached with our dogs and during the day we had lunch out in nature, making our own fire, grilling sausages and bread on a stick over the fire, drunk delicious coffee made over the fire and the sharing deepened. One last night we ended at a family-owned hotel and had the last dinner in a wooden building with a huge fireplace in the middle of nowhere.

Effect

The bonds which were created during those 3 days could NEVER happen with a workshop or a more consumption program of luxury.

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