It’s not new when I say that horse riding contains many metaphors for good, creative leadership. You may know many yourselves.
I started horse riding four years ago at the same time I started my own business. I am not a very demanding and egocentric by nature and – therefore- not natural leader. I neither feel the urge to proof something to my friends or family – a proven help in successful leadership -, so I was well advised by a Swedish friend to take up horse riding to get the hang of good leadership.
And it pays off, in particular because of my wonderful American instructor Judie.
Here are a couple of equestrian principles she thought me which I like to share with you as food for thought in business leadership:
1. Post Bigger when trotting, not smaller. In English riding one is tempted to post smaller in an effort to stop a horse going t0o fast, but the opposite is true. When you want a horse (or organization) to go more slowly and in controlled manner, start posting bigger.
2. Don’t Focus, just Be Aware. Whilst many management gurus and alpha-male leaders advocate that ‘Focus’ is the key to success in business, equestrian leadership will tell you that ‘Being Aware’ is a better key to good leadership. Putting a strong focus on something particular means that one does not see or sense other important signals (in an organization).
3. Use Your Space. Horse riding is a mirror to how we cut short our corners if we are not conscious of all the free space around us. Cutting corners short means more difficult turns and more stress. In communications & leadership this is also explained by (not) using ‘white space’ in writing or by getting active in the ‘complexity quadrant’ of Dave Snowden’s Cynefin. There is much to say for showing leadership where the situation complex, though much less crowded.
These are my favorite thoughts that help me to keep my leadership skills in form. What are yours?