Last week I attended a unique and experiential leadership training session run by Linda McGregor, founder of Four Legged Sages. This was an opportunity to learn more about leadership in action from some incredible teachers - the horses - Cheeky, Ziggy and Benny.
According to Linda, the wonderful thing about horses is that they have no hidden agenda and, like looking in a mirror, they have an ability to allow us to see ourselves for what we really are.
Are we behaving in a way that is congruent?
Does our body language match what we are saying?
Are we truly building trust and connecting with each person on an individual basis or are we simply treating everyone as a mass, same group?
During the session, three members of the group, Sarah, Jo and Kylie, entered the paddock to work individually with one of the horses - the objective being to get the horse to CHOOSE THEM TO LEAD.
Working one on one with a horse, Jo, Kylie and Sarah each had to stand in the centre of the paddock whilst the horse ran, bolted and, at times, kicked it’s way around the perimeter, sussing out the individual in the middle who was wanting to be the leader. (Check out this video of horse trotting)
It was insightful to watch Sarah, Jo and Kylie battle with their perceived “I am the leader” position and the reality of what the horse was experiencing.
Any incongruence (and it happened for all) resulted in the horse testing, ignoring, challenging and doing the absolute opposite of what was desired.
They had to work hard to get present, to focus, to cut out the external noise and distraction, to align their body language with their desired output - one of building trust, belief and understanding between them and the horse. They watched for clues - the turning of the ear, the deference of the head drop, the lick and chew - and sat in the patient pause before finally experiencing the magical moment when the horse stopped, turned and slowly walked up to their shoulder, choosing them to lead - when the horse chose to follow them.
This is probably one of the most incredible lessons in leadership and connection that I have experienced in a while. It reminded me that true connection, the building of trust between people, takes time and can also be lost very quickly. That leadership and connection require focused intentionality and patience. Watching the horses challenge Jo, Kylie and Sarah, reminded me that leadership is something that is earned and when followship happens, loyalty and longevity is the reward.
So my question is this:
Are you a leader simply because of your job title or position on an organisational chart or are you a leader because others are choosing to follow you?
If you would like to find out more about Four Legged Sages contact Linda McGregor at [email protected]
Until next time.