Taking teams or individuals to ‘Horseplay’ is an enriching experience which fully incorporates my FLAG philosophy (Fun, Leadership And – continuous improvement – Growth). If linked to ‘integral coaching’ or ‘leadership development’ the results are phenomenal.
Today I observed eight individuals (whom I’m proud to be coaching) from Colenbrander Inc at one of Carl Bronner’s workshops at ‘Horseplay’ in the KZN Midlands. Carl shares her wisdom abundantly and coaches novices and professionals in the art of communicating with her beautiful Friesian horses. Many of these lessons can be effectively incorporated in human leadership development.
At the ‘feedback session’ I asked the participants to chrysallise their learnings from the day’s programme. I have chosen to share a few of their lessons.
Leadership lessons from the horses (and from Carl)
- You must know where you are going prior to leading some-one else or they may not go in your intended direction. Look in the direction of where you want to go. (Don’t look at the horse!) Focus. Whether you are leading a horse or riding a motor-bike, focus on where you are going. Give the direction, follow that direction and use your energy to lead in that direction.
- Pushing or pulling doesn’t always work. Sometimes, gentle guidance is all that is required in order to lead effectivley.
- The ‘lead horse’ does not necessarily lead from the front, but rather from behind. The other horses in the herd follow the ‘lead horse’ because of trust.
- The little things we do today can be building blocks for the future. Whether we are developing horses or people, we need to pay attention to detail.
- Get to know your people well. Understand what ‘makes them tick’. In order to get the best from them, play to their ‘sweet spots’.
- It never helps to ‘lose your cool’ with horses or people because that horse or person loses respect for you. Their self-confidence drops and the relationship deteriorates.
- It isn’t only your words that communicate your messasge. Your body language and tone are more important than the actual words. They can enhance or detract from your intended message. Be more aware of people’s body language.
- We all have our ‘ups and downs’. It is ‘okay’ to have an ‘off day’. Everyone has their own lives and we need to give people ‘space’. We may not be aware of their lives away from the workplace and how things affect them.
- It is important to be in touch with nature and animals and this helps to ‘ground’ and de-stress.
- Be in tune to your horse or team-member. Know when you need to step up your own energy. This helps to build trust.
- New horses have to earn their place in the herd.
- Good grounding will get horses out of trouble in difficult times.
- Continuously acknowledge the small successes and bigger successes will follow.
- The relationship is more important than the task at hand. Relationships build trust wich motivates the individual and they will do whatever you require them to do.
- Horses have peripheral vision both physically and mentally. When they walk into an area, they ask ‘what has changed’? Compare this with the way we are often too focussed on task.
- Often we get stuck going in a straight line. Try going sideways!
Some of my favourite ‘wise words’ from Carl Bronner:
‘Know who you are dealing with. Horses eat grass all the time. In the food chain, they are prey animlas. We are predators. In nature, lions and zebra don’t hang out together. Learn to think like a horse (when dealing with horses.) Mimic the way he thinks. Find out how they want to be communicated with’.
One of Carl’s learning techniques is to help participants understand the personalities of each horse and ‘what makes them tick’. She then tells the humans what leadership style is needed for each horse. For example,’ Willow needs a strong person’. Tibeta – ‘You can’t change her past, but you can change her future.’
There is no need to yank to get action! Ask, tell, promise and show the consequence is the sequence in which she works.
‘Make it easy for them to do the right thing, and hard to do the wrong thing.’
‘We are working on ourselves, not on the horses’. Learn!