“Relationships help us to define who we are and what we can become. Most of us can trace our successes to pivotal relationships.”—Donald Clifton

Growing stronger, working smarter, and living richer requires a team.

Imagine dog sledding in Canada for the very first time. You’re holding onto the back of your sled as you whip around steep curves at lightning speed. Up ahead is a sharp turn and you notice your sled is teetering on the edge of the mountain. You are riding the thin line between falling off the mountain and creating momentum behind your dogs.

Before we set off, Jereme took the time to teach my wife and I all about his team.

Lead Dogs—Jereme led us to meet the first two dogs on the team. “These are my lead dogs,” he explained. “Lead dogs are not necessarily the smartest, and they’re not necessarily the fastest, but they’re the best listeners, and they follow commands well.” He emphasized that it was important to know your lead dogs, so you can communicate with them frequently. After all, they are the leaders of their team. The other dogs respect them and follow them because of their leadership strength.

Point Dogs—Jereme pointed to the next two dogs. “These are the point dogs, the dogs that see possibilities but don’t have quite the experience they need, but they have the skills and the talent, and are in line behind the lead dogs. They help steer the direction of the team towards the lead dogs.” Basically, point dogs have the abilities, but they don’t have the respect of the team just yet. Eventually, as Jereme told us, the point dogs will succeed the lead dogs.

Swing Dogs—“It’s very interesting,” Jereme said about the next two dogs. “You take an old dog and a young dog, pair them together, and you have swing dogs.” The older dogs have been around the mountains for many years, trekked endless trails, and accrued their share of bumps and bruises along the way. Of course, they have lost a bit of their zest, their energy, their pep. But then you pair this older dog with a younger dog who has loads of enthusiasm, energy, and ability but lacks experience and wisdom, and they influence and bring out the best in each other so that the team accomplishes its goal.

Wheel Dogs—“These are the biggest dogs,” Jereme said. The wheel dogs are drama-free. Easily the strongest dogs on the team, they love to pull, they love to work, and they love to do their job. All they want to do, is please you.

Then, Jereme took us to the sled. “This is where the driver stands.” The driver, we learned, is like the CEO of the sled team. She drives the operation from the back of the sled.

Given the explanations, I couldn’t help but think about the four domains of leadership: Executing, Strategic Thinking, Influencing, and Relationship Building, each domain corresponding to the four types of dogs.

The Executing domain of leadership includes the talent themes of: Achiever®, Arranger®, Belief®, Consistency®, Deliberative®, Discipline®, Focus®, Responsibility®, and Restorative.

The Strategic Thinking domain of leadership includes the talent themes of: Analytical®, Context®, Futuristic®, Ideation®, Input®, Intellection®, Learner®, and Strategic®.

The Influencing domain of leadership includes the talent themes of: Activator®, Command®, Communication®, Competition®, Maximizer®, Self-Assurance®, Significance®, and Woo®.

The Relationship Building domain of leadership includes the talent themes of: Adaptability®, Connectedness®, Developer®, Empathy®, Harmony®, Includer®, Individualization®, Positivity®, and Relator®.

Another way of looking at the four domains of leadership is that they are also the four demands of life and business.

To achieve a high school degree, you have to attend school and follow through with projects. Ideas in business have to be executed in order to build a product. Massive action produces massive results.

Thinking smarter and making wiser decisions catapults the likelihood of success. This is what strategic thinking is all about.

To get a date, motivate your children, and sell your ideas internally and externally requires an element of influencing. Influencing requires an element of increasing hope and optimism.

The most successful individuals and profitable business have social and emotional intelligence. This requires trust, compassion, and the ability to form long term rewarding relationships.

Though all of the 34 talent themes are grouped into one of the four domains, all talent themes can be used to meet the demands of life and business. The big question is how will you leverage your dominant talent themes to execute, think strategically, influence, and build relationships? What relationships and interdependent complimentary partnerships will you create for your team?

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