Leadership Skills that you can learn from Horses

woman working with 3 horses in arena

If asked what makes a great leader, most of us would find it hard to define the subtle mix of skills it takes – and with very good reason. The majority of human communication is non-verbal and the most successful leaders have honed their skills to be able to say what they need to say without even opening their mouths.

Those of us considered ‘natural leaders’ are just able to develop their non-verbal communication skills more readily, but anyone can take steps to improve on the inherent skills that every human has.

When it comes to non-verbal communication, it’s obvious that sitting in a seminar and talking about it is unlikely to do the job. It’s far more effective to ‘do’ than to read about or see demonstrated for you.

Working with and observing horses is an effective way to learn how to communicate without talking, but rather by the way you project yourself and your actions.

How ‘Horse Sense’ Translates to Business

Horses are pack animals, which means in order to survive they must work together harmoniously. When a group of horses first meet, you’ll see plenty of bravado and jostling for position, but in the end, it’s the horse who is able to assert their authority with the most strength and integrity (sometimes only a simple nod of the head is needed) that will emerge triumphant. Lead horses guide the group, keep them out of danger and find food and other essential resources for the herd.

delegates leading horses during exerciseWhen it comes to management intimidation may work to a certain extent, but in the long run quietly asserting authority and developing mutual respect by ensuring staff are treated fairly is much more effective than screaming and shouting.

Horses are always aware of what is going on around them and are willing to go the extra mile to survive.  They’ll use their heightened senses to find food and travel long distances to get it. A good leader understands where they are at any given moment and ensures that all members of the team feel valued, making it much more likely that they’ll be willing to go that extra mile too.

From time to time a horse may want to move up in the hierarchy of the herd whatever the outcome if the horse succeeds or not they still must respect the boundaries set out and be willing to work as part of a team in order to stay within the group. As a leader, it’s essential to set boundaries and make clear the consequences of stepping outside of them, whilst garnering mutual respect and understanding between all staff.

Equine Guided Leadership Training

Partnering with horses is a practical way to develop the skills necessary for effective leadership. As well as observing the intricacies of communication between the herd, you’ll also develop your own non-verbal communication skills to ensure that you and the horse you work with become a successful team.