Can you lead a horse to water?

I came across a website offering a leadership seminar based on horse whispering.  That looked interesting to me – I like horses.

I gather horse whispering is more about listening than whispering.

The professional horse men and women who practice this skill understand how to read the body language of horses and have usually spent many years studying the psychology of the horse.  I gather nervous horses learn that it is often a wise move to stand still near a ‘safe person’, than attempt to run away from a dreaded situation.  It is all about winning trust!

To gain a horse’s confidence you need to learn when to be still and quiet and just leave things to the horse. They sense the underlying state of mind of a person, so it is impossible to bluff a horse.

Yes, I can recognise this and how horse whispering could teach us something as leaders!

Leadership isn’t about shouting the message to get your vision across.  Yes, you do need to communicate it frequently and clearly.  But it is as much about listening to the responses you get back from your people, as telling them;

  • What signs do you have that the vision in your head matches the one in theirs?
  • Have you listened to their reservations?
  • Have you got answers to the questions they ask?
  • What can you learn from your most valued asset, your own team?
  • What is their body language telling you.
  • Yes, they are telling you they are enthusiastic but does the body language match the words?

As for the nervous horses, well, when faced with significant change we all get nervous!

Horses are prepared stand near a safe person they trust when they are nervous.  Do your team have enough trust to stand with you as you go through your major change?

I hope you don’t try bluffing your people; you won’t get away with it! Don’t even try it!  If horses can understand your underlying state of mind, so can your team.  Times of change are times for authenticity and honesty, otherwise your most precious horses might bolt and you certainly will not be first past your own particular winning post!

So if anyone has been to a leadership seminar based on horse whispering, I’d love to hear from them.  Does anyone know of other courses based on our relationship with animals?  I’m interested in all, but wolves would be a particular favourite of course!


Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

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