Three Leadership Lessons From A Horse WhispererPosted: November 9, 2012
I met a horse whisperer tonight.
I have actually known him for years, but had never really talked to him about what he does and how he does it.
We were at a social function and I was standing there, with Larry the cowboy, chatting about nothing in particular. Then I asked him about his work.
His eyes lit up and he talked non stop about his passion and his work with animals and people for 30 minutes at least. He told me things about horses and leading them that I had learned elsewhere about leadership in general. In fact, he uses them to rehabilitate people who are challenged in life for one reason or another. He teaches them to develop a healthy relationship with a horse in a day, and then they can take those lessons and use them with people for the rest of their lives.
Three of the leadership lessons I learned from him tonight are:
1) Look the horse in the eye. You have to build a relationship of trust with the animal, and the eye is the portal to trust.
2) Become the horse’s friend. Exude positive energy. Be positive in your interactions. Smile, laugh, praise often, and reward positive responses.
3) Have boundaries. Don’t let the horse be too familiar. Draw a line and let them know you are still their leader and need respect.
Now I know most leaders don’t lead animals, but lead humans. There is a difference. But I had never thought of the similarities before now.
As Larry was passionately describing his philosophy, I kept thinking how much he loves his work, and how he helps horses and their owners with his teaching. The more he told me, the more I learned about horses and about leadership.
Maybe we’re not so different after all.
How can you apply these lessons to those you lead?