3 More Leadership Lessons From A Horse Whisperer


Photo Credit: mnsc Creative Commons

I saw Larry the cowboy again this last week. He attends my church, so I usually see him on Sundays. But seeing him this time reminded me of some more lessons he shared with me on horsemanship, and leadership.

He told me that horses, like people, need a few things to be effective companions and good workers.
They need:
A Leader.

Security. A safe place. Somewhere they can be comfortable and not feel harassed or in danger.
Friendship. Someone to talk to and get to know outside of the professional sphere.
A Leader. Not being afraid of confrontation. Knowing where you want to go and sharing that.

He also described one way he uses Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits in leading and rehabilitating his horses. He told me that he never appreciated the Seven Habits until he thought one day about his horses and how he could use it with them.
He said to First Seek to Understand. Before acting on a certain behavior, find out why, or what is causing the behavior. And then you can address the source, and not just the symptom.

Lastly, he said something that showed to me his passion for his profession. He said that a horse and a man are the ultimate team. They were meant to work together. They complement each other’s strengths and buoy up the weaknesses.

In summary, I learned from him that if I can provide security, friendship and be a leader, my team will be happy. If I seek to understand before I intervene, I will more likely help than hurt. And if the right team comes together, they can be…



Don’t Drop The Ball On Delegation

Photo Credit: Paul-W Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Paul-W Creative Commons

I had an experience that allowed me to learn first hand how Not to receive delegation. I am 100% responsible for not addressing this up front, and I was as disappointed as anyone else with the results.

I dropped the ball for someone this summer. I was asked to organize a fund-raiser luncheon in a couple of months. We had a meeting with four of us and some assignments were made. The person in charge was going to make some contacts and get back to me.

I waited to hear from him. I didn’t move forward when I didn’t hear back. I didn’t get invitations out in time, or make contact with donors in time. I didn’t get the job done. I didn’t take the initiative. Looking back, I can see that I didn’t receive specific enough instructions.

We didn’t communicate very clearly who was going to do what. I thought he was doing something that he thought I was doing. It was like two people trying to go through the doorway at the same time and neither one taking the lead, so both of us just got stuck there in the doorway of opportunity.

Regardless, I learned much from this experience and I won’t let it happen again. I found this list a few weeks later and thought how much I could have used this earlier.

5 steps to effective delegation:
1. Make the assignment
2. Let the person perform
3. Offer assistance
4. Receive report
5. Commend the positive, correct any errors

1. Make the assignment: Be specific in what you want from the person. Give them the vision for the end result you would like. What should we both see and experience when this project is finished.

2. Let the person perform: Let them know how and when you will follow-up. If you intend to check in with them every week, tell them that. That way they don’t think you are micro managing them when you call them every Friday to see how things are going.

3. Offer Assistance: Give them information on who and how to get help. If you are providing help, let them know that they can come to you. I always try to remember to over communicate when in doubt.

4. Receive their report when finished: At a specified, when the project is finished or the vision is completed, sit down together and review the results.

5. Commend the positive results, correct any errors: Use the follow-up meeting as an opportunity to break down problems and successes. Make changes for next time.
What is your best delegation failure story?


(these are steps from the book Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood part B)

What’s In A Name?

Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker, A Rose By Any Other Name…


I met a client the other day that surprised me with her name.
(Her name has been changed in this post, but the effect is still the same.)
She was in her twenties, has been married for a couple years. She said her husband’s name was Taylor Smith. I shook my head at that, and asked her to repeat herself. I looked at my assistant, and she was as surprised as I was.
Because the client’s name is Taylor Smith.

I had never before met someone with the exact name as their spouse.
Now, she went on to tell us about her family, and that she was expecting a baby. I’m sorry, but the first thought that went through my mind was, “Please don’t name the baby Taylor.”

What we call things can be so important. In a past post on maps, I addressed one aspect of this. I love to read, and I am writing now, and one thing I have discovered is that finding the right word can be one of the most difficult things when writing.

With the right name or label, you can improve understanding and impact.
Does your team call you “boss”? Or are you a “leader”?
Do you have staff? Or employees? Or “team members”?
Now this can be taken to the other extreme, where you get too politically correct, and don’t call things like they are. Or give them incorrect names again. That is not what I am talking about.

I like to think of myself as a leader and not a boss. My team has a great place to work, and not just a “job”. My Director of First Impressions is more than a receptionist.
Just be aware of labels you use, and think about the connotations.


What is your vision? How can your language choices affect your vision and other’s perception of it?

All I Wanted Was A Burger (or a Leader…)

We went out to eat at a new restaurant the other day. The atmosphere was great, the decor a little old-fashioned in a retro, 40’s kind of way, with leather and dark wood everywhere.
It seemed like a good choice. Except we were greeted by an overweight, unshaved, unenthusiastic waiter. Well, I thought, maybe he’s the owner, and he can’t help his appearance, or attitude… (This is not starting out well.)
Once we were seated, the server was nice and helpful, she used a smartphone to take our order, a little awkwardly, though.
It was a gourmet burger joint. They had a condiment bar. And she didn’t explain it. We watched other patrons go to the bar and load up their burgers, and figured that may be important.
So naturally there were some awkward moments as we got up to fix our burgers. I had to stop our server from walking off to have her explain how things worked. Also, we weren’t too excited about running all our kids through the line after we all just got settled into our seats.
Another downside, was that there were so many choices, I wished the “chef” would have recommended a certain combo of condiments, or just make my burger for me, isn’t that what I paid for?
I don’t know if I got the best flavor from this particular burger, or how it was designed to be eaten, due to too many choices.

Three tips:

1. Give your customer a few choices, but don’t overwhelm them.
2. And help them when they are new. Educate them, show them how your awesome system works, or they will just feel lost.
3. Or better yet, design “ease of use” into it from the beginning. People shouldn’t have to be educated on how to fix a burger.

So, bottom line, I liked the design, atmosphere and the idea of making my own burger, I sometimes just want it done by a professional.

What are some things you are doing that should be done by a pro? How can you streamline your customer experience?