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Book Review: Iditarod Leadership by Chris Fuller

June 29, 2016

Iditarod LeadershipChris Fuller has written a “lessons learned” leadership book based on his Alaskan adventure training as a dog sled musher. The structure of Iditarod Leadership is both interesting and quite useful for review. Fuller speaks of “taking notes in a small notebook” while learning the ins and outs of mushing. Those “notes” appear at the end of chapters summarizing the lessons learned.

In addition, words of leadership wisdom come from the training instructors as well as from Fuller as the instructors remind him of lessons from past mentors and/or from Fuller’s interaction with his dog team. In fact, unleashing the power of the team is a very apt subtitle.

Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.

Many of the lessons learned support the concepts espoused by the Conscious Capitalism and Emotionally Intelligent Leader camps and so will be familiar to some readers. It is interesting to see how Fuller draws analogies to leadership principles from his experience. I found the analogies a bit strained on occasion, but still they were interesting and practical visions for modern leadership.

Our organizations should be like Lizzie’s kennel — building the next generation of leaders from the ground up.

The lessons on team building are interesting in that each dog on the team has a place and a job to do. Their personalities are important and the musher has to learn which dogs to pair, which ones are lead dogs, which ones are swing dogs, which ones are team dogs and which ones are the wheel dogs (closest to the sled). You can see how the analogy can be made to our own teams and how the leader’s awareness of personalities will help make sure the right folks are on the team and in the right position.

All in all, this short, fun and useful leadership book (126 pages) is well worth the time spent to read it.

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