The more I work with horses, the more I understand how to apply the lessons learned from working around a half-ton beast in work situations. Horses teach us a lot about ourselves and others.
Here are some leadership lessons from the field...or the pasture.
Control is only an illusion. A rider is only in control to the extent that the horse wants to comply and trusts the rider’s leadership enough to do so.
A team is comprised of individuals. As a leader, you do not control these individuals. So, to be effective, you must work diligently to build and maintain a good relationship with each person. People can sniff a fake a mile away. Be authentic!
Horses appreciate consistency. If you respond one way on Monday and another on Tuesday, it confuses them. They really are like dealing with children in many ways. Consistency is the key.
There is no substitute for consistency for your team. If you are consistent, your team knows what you expect. Consistency builds trust over time, particularly in conjunction with a good relationship.
Horses want to do what is easiest for them. Some of the most common means of training horses is through pressure, anticipating reactions ahead of time, making small course corrections on the go, and dispensing rewards.
People don’t welcome pressure any more than horses. As such, leaders should embrace alternatives, look ahead, anticipate where issues may arise, and plan to provide positive reinforcement in the hopes that correction will not be necessary.
When people know that you genuinely care about them, it changes the whole team dynamic. Love does cover "a multitude of sins."
Control is only an illusion.
Consistency builds trust.
Correction should only be utilized when warranted and necessary.Care!