Why Leadership through Horsemanship?
“How you do anything is how you do everything.”
Whether you have considered it or not the qualities we need for Leadership and Horsemanship are similar, the results come back to how we behave.
Of the many lessons horses have taught me three concepts of great leadership stand out. You must be particular in your communication, impeccable in your behaviour and brave with your failures. The three go hand in hand each needing the other to be successful.
We often ask people to step outside of their comfort zone in the arena with The Natural Leader herd. Exploring the edge of comfort allows us to become aware of the behaviours we need to access in a stressful workplace situation. Awareness of what we actually may be doing versus what we think we are doing is an excellent place to begin to diagnose what to change.
A sentiment we often hear “I’d like to better at communicating.” Most people are actually “looking to be more effective with their communication”. Effective communication is only achievable through a combination of attributes and comes down to how clearly it is understood by others.
A horse will always try to do exactly what they think is the right answer. When they fail in understanding we need to begin with what it was we asked and how. Breaking each thought, idea and request down into what sometimes feels to be infinitesimally small actions builds an understanding of communication that can be beautiful to watch.
Effective communication also requires that we be impeccable with our behaviour. The non-verbal can be far louder than any words we choose so our actions have to support what we say. Behaviours are both intentional and unconscious habits and patterns, horses help us see how important these are in our communication.
When our patterns are impacted by emotion, our behaviours unpredictable and our actions conflicting. Is it that difficult to understand why others may not see us, as we see ourselves?
Be brave with failures, because sometimes that is the only way we figure out what not to do. Living life in the “what ifs” can paralyze us into believing safety or doing nothing. Failing is where our best learning often comes from. Of the many brilliant attributes horses have, they always give us a second chance to make a good first impression.
So what have I learned from horses about leadership? It is hard to know where to begin, though I do believe that horses have taught me effective communication has many nuances, requires constant vigilance and practice. Horses have taught me to seek the quiet moments and consider how we got there. They have made me oh so aware of the non-verbal and all the subtleties that lie within and they continually humble me. A creature so large and so powerful can be moved by the strength of a fly, so yes I have failed often.