Is there a Drama Queen on Your Team?

Ever worked with a drama queen? You know the one who has a knack for creating a crisis or constantly seems to be at the epicentre of chaos?

My drama queen? A 16 year old female, the key difference just might be, my drama queen is a horse. Despite the years of experience, wisdom and leadership skill I have gained, Zoe is very good at sucking me into her emotional vortex. Always ready to teach me something new, Zoe pointed out my default to manager when she most needed, a confident and clear leader.

It was a familiar ride down a road we have traveled a thousand times, yet every bush, sound and falling leaf became a serious distraction. I was so busy managing all the “Ya But’s” and “OMG’s”, we surely would be in a froth by the time we hit the small stand of aspens a kilometer into the ride.

As the emotion of frustration rose in me – it dawned on me, Zoe was doing exactly what she ALWAYS did, and I was responding just as I always had. I was so busy managing and worrying about another exhausting ride that I was blind to what I was doing in the moment.

Thinking back on all the clinics, horsemanship tips and leadership knowledge I have gained over the years, many things came to mind. The thought that rang true “the horse will keep you busy if you don’t keep them busy”. It was my job to get her focused – I had to have a clear vision for both of us. I had to give her something more compelling to help her be successful. As I started asking questions, the frantic jig turned into sidepassing, backing and repeating patterns. We stopped, teetered back and rolled over on the haunches each task bringing us ever closer to that terrifying stand of trees. The occasional distraction reappeared, but when her head bobbed up and neck stiffened I found something new for her and we started the whole process again.

The ride that began feeling like I needed every ounce of my strength, was changing. As Zoe started to see a purpose to my requests she engaged with her responsibilities. She started finding the answers to my questions with less and less effort. The ride became less like work and more enjoyable, for both of us. We were beginning to dance to the same tune.

In the midst of that foreboding stand of trees I could feel her look to me for direction. With the lightest go forward request, we moved off. From the road we traveled onto the quarter section stubble field. We circled at a walk, trot and a lope, the open space no longer daunting. She was soft, we backed turned and then the biggest reward of all, we walked home, loose reins swinging in time with her stride.

As a manager she had kept me busy, as a leader I was able to help her focus and together we accomplished far more. Here’s to recognising the drama queen on your team can actually help you be a better leader!

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