Tag Archives: Team

Which horse are you?

Wikipedia is the font of all information: accurate / inaccurate, useful / utterly useless! I was reading recently about the Australian Draught Horse. A workhorse known for its “strength and good temperament”, it’s capable of pulling loads for long periods, often working as part of a team and in very challenging environments. Compare this to a thoroughbred. The traditional choice for sprint racing, they perform with maximum exertion for relatively short stanzas, which has resulted in high accident rates and more health problems relative to most other breeds.

Which horse are you?

I ask this in the politest tone possible, of course, without any implication of your physical appearance! Our focus, or approach, however, is being called into question.

Are we the endurance model – consistent, steady and primed for the long haul? Or are we the sprinter – capable of immense activity but only for a short season? There are times when we are called to run. And we should run hard. But if our focus is short bursts then we will be ultimately overrun by the endurance versions.

I think life is better served as an endurance race, rather than a series of short, sharp events. Our ability to run consistently rather than hard for a season will see us endure and overcome.

So back to my earlier question, which horse are you?


Pictures of a leader #3

Continuing this series, another apt picture of a leader offered by John Maxwell is the vine and the branches. As all backyard gardeners can attest, a branch cannot bear fruit unless it is attached to the vine. So if a team is disconnected from its leader, its productivity will be lost.

This relationship indicates the nourishment role of a leader. The leader is the one who provides, the one who nurtures. This provision can and most likely will take many forms – instilling purpose, offering encouragement, delivering resource. Through this provision, team members (including our families) can be nurtured towards both team and personal development.

Ensuring connectivity, whilst it should be the domain of both leader and team member, is ultimately the responsibility of the leader. Because whilst the branch needs to be connected to flourish, this connection can also enable disease to spread. The leader then is responsible for removing the branch to protect the rest of vine.

If our team is not flourishing, we may want to check both the health of the branch and its connection to the vine.


Image credit: photohomepage / 123RF Stock Photo

Pictures of a leader #1

We each have a picture of what a leader looks like. The way a leader acts and interacts. What a leader says and does. Invariably these pictures of a leader are drawn from our own experiences of both being a leader and being led. John Maxwell also offers insights into what a leader looks like and has identified metaphors to demonstrate key attributes of leadership. Here is one aspect for us to consider…

Captain and Army – a picture of authority and training.

Notice this says authority AND training – a leader does not simply command, a leader must also train. Leaders must clearly understand the mission and the people available for that mission – what are we here to do and who is on my team? For the mission to have any chance of success, the team must have the necessary skills, knowledge and motivation. It is the leader’s responsibility to ensure his team is fully prepared.

A Captain’s role in relation to his mission is to plan and mobilise his troops. The Captain is the tactical on-the-ground leader responsible for training, organising and equipping the people in his/her charge. Just because we may be the Captain, it does not mean we are actually leading.

How well are we training those around us? Are we equipping people? Are we fully preparing our team for the mission?


Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos


Anyone who has sat through a meeting with me or read any of the policy documents or corporate material I have produced can attest to my love of the word “engage“. Beyond marketing-speak, engage presents us a definite challenge.

As parents we need to be actively engaging our kids. As leaders, we need to be proactively engaging our team members. Whatever situation we find ourselves in, we have the choice to engage or not. We can choose how effectively we connect and interact. Choosing not to engage is disengaging which itself is an action, albeit a negative one.

Engaging our kids can begin by simply asking them about their day and then listening to their answer. It involves deliberately creating opportunities for them to share and for us to respond. It includes taking time to discover their current likes and dislikes, to identify strengths and weaknesses, to gauge how they perceive the world. It is also about fostering an environment where our kids can have a go and feel safe even if it doesn’t work out.

If we understand exactly what “engage” means, we can see the challenge and the tremendous opportunity it affords us:

  • to attract and hold the attention of
  • to draw into; involve

So as we all seek to “engage” those around us, let’s ask how well are we attracting and holding their attention?

How effectively are we as parents drawing into our kids’ worlds and are we indeed drawing them out to a wider world?


Photo: Royalty free image purchased via 123RF Stock Photos

A 5-year-old ability does not yield a 12-year-old result

Running a family isn’t all beer and skittles you know, sometimes there’s work to be done! The lawn needs to be mowed, clothes washed and ironed (sometimes), beds made, rooms tidied, dishes done, floors mopped, bathrooms refreshed, toys packed away and so on. This stuff isn’t necessarily enjoyable but it’s the practical side of a building a family.

Team Mahoney is, well, a team. Not always a highly functioning team but a team nonetheless! Being a team we’re all responsible for the effective running of our home and as such there is a clear expectation that we will each contribute. A key I have learnt though is that whilst I have an equal expectation that we will each contribute, I need to have a different expectation as to outcome.

The simple fact is my 5-year-old has a different capacity to my 12-year-old and therefore a different outcome must be expected. I need to balance the anticipated result with the team member’s actual ability along with their application. If the ability is lacking (from my perspective), then this could simply be a function of age as well as how effectively the “how” has been demonstrated. Importantly, Team Mahoney have a number of age-specific tasks. For instance, my 5-year-old is a gun with matching socks and putting his clothes away – that’s his contribution to the laundry!

Accepting the varying outcomes also means that the work may have to be redone. Not immediately in the presence of the one who first attempted, but at a later time. Either that, or we need to be content with a result that is less than we would expect from ourselves (or an older sibling).

So if we want to ensure that each family member is afforded equal opportunity to contribute, then we need to accept different outcomes, and we need to equally praise the outcomes based on effort. Happy parenting!


Photo: Royalty free image purchased via 123RF Stock Photos

What’s your handicap?

Handicapping in horse-racing parlance refers to the additional lead weight horses carry in an effort to equalize the chances of winning across the field. Yet, in life, many of us also carry additional weight irrespective of our chances of winning.

What additional weight are you carrying?

Running up a sand dune under the blazing sun is a difficult enough task, let alone if we’re carrying an extra 20 kilos (that’s about 44 lbs for my international readers!). It’s not necessarily the task before us, it’s more often the weight we’re carrying that can determine the outcome.

This weight is multi-dimensional. It may be negative words spoken over our lives. It may be “stinking thinking” where our thoughts reverts to all our previously unsuccessful attempts. It could be fear. It could even be someone else’s struggles.

Whether we’re handicapped by our lead in our saddlebags or if indeed it’s someone else’s lead we’re carrying, we will never be able to freely run. And if we’re leading a team (which could be our family) then that team will never be able to freely run. We need to make a conscious decision to discard the weight, to address the issues, to choose to do life differently.

We can either bemoan the weight we’re carrying or we can set it free to set ourselves free.


Photo: Royalty free image purchased via 123RF Stock Photos