What is leadership?

What is leadership? This word that has been used a lot, and if you look for a definition, you will find many out there.

I would like to focus on the definition of a "good" leader, an authentic leader, and where I see the similarities between the corporate world and the world the horses live in, as well as the traits we can learn from these animals.

Definition of good leadership

"Being a positive role model means believing in your ideas and being the first to apply them before asking others to do so."
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum

Being a good leader in most definitions encompasses the following:

  • having a clear vision
  • communicating this vision
  • motivating and empowering others to work with the leader on his or her vision and to overcome any obstacles on the way
Leadership with horses in Dubai - what is a good leader? Training, seminar

and this is exactly what we work on in our horse assisted leadership courses.
A good leader is someone who the others follow by free will.

How do you achieve that?

I like the thoughts from His Highness on being a positive role model above.
Others will follow if you not only communicate where you want to go, but also take the first step and show that you really believe in your vision.

This is meant by motivating.
Not just sending the others to go the path alone, but being a leader who is guiding the way, maybe even walking ahead.

All the above leadership definitions and thoughts have very little in common with management tasks like planning and controlling, budgeting, etc.

Leadership has a lot more to do with people than with numbers.

Leading is working towards the good of people

In the current business climate, where changes happen rapidly, a manager can no longer be in control of everything and use a tool or instrument in every situation.

To run a successful business, it is therefore essential to have motivated, flexible team members who can find creative ways to work towards a common goal, led by a leader who is able to take decisions even when he doesn't always know the right answer.

A leader who is trusted by his team, because they feel being cared for.
Then they will follow him willingly.

A leader in the herd

This is the same kind of leader a horse is looking for!
Horses are social prey animals.
In order to be safe in our modern world which to them is confusing, noisy, chaotic and a very unnatural place for a horse to be, they look for someone who will keep them free from harm, take the right decisions and communicate these clearly.

What we need to keep in mind is that in their instincts, for the horse the definition of "safe" is very different than what it is in our office world.

The worst that can usually happen to us in the corporate world is that we get fired if we don't do our job right.
In most cases we will not face physical harm, let alone do we run the risk of death if our leader does not keep us safe.

The prey animal horse, always alert and ready to flee from danger, on the other hand very much fears physical pain or worse. In their natural surroundings, the herd has to rely on a leader to detect danger (for example a pack of wolves) in time and move the herd to a safe place.
A horse which is left alone on the prairie is a dead horse as it doesn't have the safety of the herd anymore which is needed to relax, sleep, eat, and thus have the energy to flee in emergency.

Therefore for the horses, finding the right leader is essential to survival.
And whilst employees may be willing to go along even if they don't feel 100% right (and will often not dare to openly tell a team leader if they don't agree with his decisions), a horse will be very clear and only follow a leader who is authentic, and really means what he says, not someone who only pretends to.
There is simply a lot more at stake in the eyes of the horse.

How do you lead?

In business school, we are usually taught a great deal about all the available management tools, about the instruments we can use to maximise profits, push people and numbers, how to create reporting sheets and plan budgets.

We are taught very little about the human side of business.

In our day to day job we often forget that our colleagues are not just human "resources", but real people with different ways of thinking, with emotions, problems, and also creative ideas.

If we can learn to connect better with our team members, to value them for who they are, and thus get them involved with all their strengths, we will see a huge increase in performance.

If you are interested to learn more about how you lead, and how you can improve team communication and team spirit, join me for a very personal trip to meet the horses in Dubai and learn from them what you are already doing good, and where you feel you can still be better.

Get in touch for a free conversation and to learn more about the team building and leadership trainings with horses in Dubai.

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