The word ‘leadership’ can often be triggering for many of us who have had bad experiences with leaders. Often those in leadership positions make those they ‘lead’ feel dominated or suppressed rather than inspired and motivated. Observing a herd of horses can deconstruct our limited ideas of leadership and reconstruct new leadership possibilities for both ourselves and others. Here’s why:
Social Hierarchy: Horses are social hierarchal animals, each with specific roles and responsibilities in the herd. Roles are not better than or more important, rather each individual is a leader and leadership is shared.
The lead mare sets the tone and direction for the herd. She signals at the first sign of danger (environmental or predator) and the herd responds, as her leadership has been tested and tried and she has proven herself competent and wise over time.
Awareness: The horse lives in 360- degree awareness and can detect the slightest shifts in the field. The herd responds swiftly by coming together and moving towards safety and/or away from danger. What is happening for the individual, for the herd and in the larger environment are all considered simultaneously.
Cooperation: Every member contributes to the socialization of the new or the young schooling the behaviors that are acceptable and correcting unwanted behavior. The ever- present and primary goal of herd leadership is self-care and cooperation.
Intuition: Horses, like all animals rely on how they feel, rather than what they think. Often, they must make split-second decisions based on instinct, as they have never lost the ability to trust this primary navigational system.
When ‘leading’, we humans can typically ignore environmental cues thus overriding natural flow and rhythm. We are often agenda-driven, setting a pace that creates fatigue, burn out and resentment. Horses remind us of the need for self-care continually adjusting and assessing our surroundings to insure the safety and well-being of our “human herd.”
If you would like to explore and begin to incorporate an age-old, successful model of leadership into your corporate culture, please give us a call. Our team at Medicine Horse Ranch designs custom horse assisted experiential programs for specific groups, individuals, businesses and organizations around any number of relevant issues and/or topics.