This week I had the good fortune to participate in a leadership development workshop that focused on trust and enhancing awareness of how you show up as a ‘leader’. What made this so terrific and fun was that it was held at a horse farm and the horses were active participants in each of our learning exercises. I approached this workshop with a mix of excitement and anxiety. I have had minimal interaction with horses up til now and the times I did engage with them, I had a real appreciation for how big and powerful they were. I was also very aware that when I was the rider, there was no confusion as to who was in charge of where we went – and it wasn’t me.
As we connected with these horses throughout the day, the lesson that was revealed over and over again was that the disposition of the ‘leader’ was essential to the outcome. During those times when our team was resolute and had a plan and was just going to go out and make that horse do something, the results were awful. The horse bucked and ran and jumped, requiring us to step back and regroup. When we re-engaged from a position of humility and openness, the horse willingly came along. When we coordinated our actions in ways that the horse could understand, he happily followed the path we outlined. When our energy was positive and purposeful, the horse seemed excited to be a part of the group. The take aways were obvious –
- leaders generate commitment to a course of action, not obedience
- leaders invite others to a shared vision or purpose by being clear about the what and the why
- if you want others to follow, your invitation must come from a place of care about them, as well as the organization, team, family, etc. Trust comes from here
Self awareness is an essential leadership quality. Regardless of the arena in which you find yourself functioning as a leader – home, work, school, etc. – doing a self check in to ground the assessments you are bringing to a situation and the energy and emotion that you are embodying, allows you to train your attention on the people you want and need to be connected with. We cannot be fully connected to someone else if we are not connected to ourselves, to our own body, and to the present moment.