- On October 8, 2014
Why would a 1200 pound animal follow a 150 pound woman who knows absolutely nothing about horses?
Yesterday I had an unconventional business meeting with a woman who is a former senior executive at a Fortune 500 company. We met at her horse barn. She had told me she used her horse to reinforce leadership and team skills when she was at her previous company. I was curious.
She brought me to the grassy ring and handed me the end of the cotton rope around the horses head. “Walk him around the circle,” were the only instructions she gave.
Okaaay… I tug gently on the rope and give an encouraging and gentle “OK Cody, let’s walk.”
Cody has other priorities, like getting as much fresh grass in his mouth as he can during this unexpected trip to the corral. He did take a step…away from me.
My friend says, “Show him you are the leader.”
I pull the rope a little harder, looked him in the eye and gave a stern face. “Let’s go.”
He tossed his head yanking the rope from my hand.
Third try. I pick up the rope and start walking backwards, keeping a steady eye on the horse. Cody puts his head down again and doesn’t move even as the rope gets taut.
Going for a walk was going to be harder than I thought.
Leadership Lesson—Inspiring a Shared Vision
Where do you want the horse to go? Walking around the fence.
How do I get him there?
“Show your confidence so Cody has no doubt that you are the one to follow,” says my friend.
I square my shoulders, lift my head, keep my body pointed forward, and look in the direction I want to go. And I start walking.
…And Cody starts moving. Ears forward, head just behind my shoulder. As I move faster, so does he. As I slow down, he follows my pace. We are powerfully moving around the ring. When I falter and look down or my eyes wander to the nearby pasture, Cody breaks his concentration too and grabs for the grass.
It was not enough to just state my intention. I had to move into it. I had to look that way. Move that way. Then the horse could share my vision of where we were going. And while I was focused on it, we were one. Cody even followed me to stand with two front legs balanced on a tire platform.
What happens with your work colleagues or your family when you break focus, when you say your intention and don’t live it, when you don’t inspire a shared vision? Do they do what Cody did and do their own thing?
Photo: JMaliszewski, 2013