Frontier Leadership is now in its third year of operation and every time we run our training programs, I continue to be amazed by the changes in our participants from when they first walk up the driveway to when they leave at the end of the day.
The power our equine friends have in creating instant and lasting change is truly remarkable. People realise that stepping out of their comfort zone is something they CAN do and by doing so, the path to leadership through growth and engagement opens up, along with improved business results.
But don't just take my word for it, here are five ways in which horses are helping today's business leaders prepare for tomorrow's change:
1. How to lead with influence
Horses are the ultimate influencers. Left to their own devices, they have an uncanny ability to move themselves to just where they want to be (usually a juicy patch of grass) and at the same time have moved you to just where they want you to be. This skill balances out in that they are also able to be influenced quite subtly and with ease - once you understand their language. This behaviour is commonly seen in the workplace too. Engaging clients and employees are often top of the list for most senior executives and horses teach us the steps involved in creating (and maintaining) willing and engaged followers.
2. How to become a leader others want to follow
To lead a horse, you soon realise that you are the one who needs to make the change. Similar to prospective clients and top level talent, the horse has little to no motivation to move just because you tell it to. In fact, unless there is a powerful enough motivator, it’s often the case the horse (or human!) will do the complete opposite of what you want. Learning to lead a horse, with no physical attachments between you and the horse, gives you a true understanding of this concept. Through this alone you can experience, with immediate effect, how when you change what you're doing, the impact you have on others – good, bad or indifferent! Which leads us on to #3.
3. How to become a feedback seeking leader
There is no failure, only feedback. Horses have no ego, they do not judge and they have no care for titles or hierarchical positions. What they do care about, deeply and instinctually, is their own safety and physical comfort. This allows them to give real time, genuine feedback to the human working with them. You’re either influencing the horse to follow you, or you’re not. It’s that simple. And therefore, effective in taking away the distraction of the voices in (and out of) our heads. Voices that often give excuses, justifications, reasons and sometimes well-intentioned yet misleading advice…but no useful tools to help you move forward and achieve your outcome. This honest and immediate feedback allows you to practise changes to your physiology, your demeanour and your intentions in order to ascertain what makes others want to be with us and what makes them want to move away from us.
4. How to lead through change and uncertainty
Horses are prey animals. Humans have a more predatory nature. It is counter intuitive for a prey animal to want to spend time with a predator and to do so they need to overcome their natural instincts. It is critical that you become the safest place to be for them to even contemplate coming near you. In many ways, this is similar to how a prospective client feels when they receive a sales call, how a new employee feels in the first few days or a team feels during constant change and uncertainty. Learning how to BE the safe place for your client or employee, creating space for them to open up and for you to build rapport, gain trust and ensure they’re with you before choosing to follow you.
5. How to get out of your comfort zone
Leading requires action and it rarely (if ever) occurs from behind a desk! For many people, working on the ground with a horse will provide a completely new perspective on the world, and the business challenges you’re experiencing. All your senses are heightened, and you gain a greater awareness of the nuances of communication, leadership and collaboration. This is the place of stretching and growth, it requires curiosity, the willingness to be open to learning something different, and allows for solutions to arise through creativity, innovation and team work.
Interested in finding out more? Contact us and we’ll arrange a time to talk.