Insider Exclusive: Is It Time to Kick Them Out of the Canoe?

Insider Exclusive: Is It Time to Kick Them Out of the Canoe?

Making Tough Leadership Decisions

By Vincent Ivan Phipps

Leadership is a lot like paddling in a canoe. Let’s say you and two other people are in a canoe. The goal is to cross a river. You are in the rear and the other two are seated in front of you. Even if you are the only one paddling, you can propel the canoe on your own.

However, if all three of you paddle together in rhythm, the canoe will propel faster and you will exert less energy than you would by paddling alone. This is the concept of teamwork, but how does it relate to leadership?

Let’s say you are paddling hard in the canoe and the other two are not paddling. Even worse, they are sticking their legs and hands out of the canoe and into the river. This is now causing drag. If two of the three people are causing resistance, the whole canoe slows down.

So, you ask each person to paddle. One tells you he is tired. The other says she will paddle later. You then ask them to at least pull their hands and feet out of the water and place them back inside of the canoe to prevent unnecessary resistance. They both tell you it’s hot and they prefer to keep themselves cool by sticking their hands and feet in the water. They are not focused on the advancement of the team. Rather, they are selfishly focusing only on what is easier for them personally.

You now have a conundrum. Do you keep them in the canoe and maintain the potential for more efficiency? Or, do you make the tough leadership decision and kick them out of the canoe? You can, after all, move faster by yourself than you can carrying people who are not putting forth any effort.

When you give others the opportunity to paddle for the team, be clear about the goal and the expectations. If they step up, they deserve to stay dry. If they fail to do their part, it’s time for you to make the tough decision and kick them out of your canoe!

Vincent Ivan Phipps, M.A., CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) is the owner and CEO (chief energy officer) of Communication VIP Training and Coaching. He specializes in motivational keynotes, interactive workshops, and individual coaching. Phipps is a speaker at ABA’s 2018 Annual Meeting & Marketplace in Charlotte, N.C. For more information, visit

About the American Bus Association

The American Bus Association (ABA) is the trade organization of the intercity bus industry, with more than 1,000 motorcoach and tour company members in the United States and Canada. Its members operate charter, tour, regular route, airport express, special operations and contract services. Another 2,800 members are travel and tourism organizations and suppliers of bus products and services who work in partnership with the North American motorcoach industry.


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