Leadership Lessons from a Tennessee Walker
Most leaders believe they have to have all the answers. They struggle to find what works for the entire organization and for their employees. They think they're communicating the plan, the goals and what needs to be done, but miss the mark many times. Their people feel confused, controlled, lack the desire to perform, and don’t see how they fit into the big picture. This confusion frustrates the leader. They struggle to hit the numbers, finish the projects, accomplish the goals and complete the tasks. At this point, leaders usually become more controlling and less human, they give up, or they do the work themselves while leaving scorned employees behind.
Many of you know that I have horses, and they help facilitate my L-E-A-D workshops. I discover many leadership lessons through my daily interaction with my little herd. My mare, Jazz, and I have had a long and stressful relationship over the past five years. She’s a very spirited Tennessee Walker with a mind all her own – the main reason I was attracted to her. She has so much energy, which leads to many confrontations and, to my dismay, much frustration on my part.
Yesterday, I went to the barn to saddle up Jazz. I started talking to her and asked her to show me how to improve our situation. I asked for her guidance and support in our riding. I talked about how it shouldn't be so hard on either of us. I told her how grateful I was to have her in my life and for all the lessons she'd already revealed to me. She nudged me gently in acknowledgement and we walked to the pasture.
I removed her rope halter in preparation to put on her bridle and begin riding. Jazz dropped her head to the ground and wouldn't pick it up, making it impossible to put on the bridle. I looked at her in disbelief – she’s always stood and accepted the bridle! I thought about forcing the issue then remembered that I had asked for her guidance. I put the bridle down and she lifted her head to accept the rope halter again. I tied up the ends to make reins and mounted. She walked like a sweetheart. After years of struggling with her, I was finally able to move outside the fenced-in pasture and ride, like we had been doing it for ages. She walked, never spooked or bolted, and was with me the whole way. I was aware that we blended together, I couldn't tell where I ended and she began. It was beautiful! We rode in synchronicity like a perfect team.
So what does this have to do with your leadership skills?
How much time do you spend with your people? Do you truly communicate with them and ask their opinions, or just talk at them? When you ask their opinion do you respond positively or try to force your opinion on them? Have you considered that you are only one person and can't have all the answers? If you’re doing your job effectively, you've assembled a skilled and knowledgeable team that has better solutions than just one person!
Asking builds relationships and provides more options. Asking uncovers everyone's ideas and thoughts. As a leader, you can take that input and decide where it’s best to spend the team’s energy and the company’s resources.
Asking is NOT a sign of weakness; it's a sign of strength – strength in yourself and your people. Your people can provide rich data, if you just ask them.
Not sure how to begin? We can help.
NOVEMBER 2006 ISSUE
New Survey Capabilities!
February 22-23, 2007
"Unharness Your Leader-Self"
March 8-9, 2007
Schedule a customized L-E-A-D workshop or retreat for 2007!
Schedule your EquiCoaching sessions.
Past newsletters are available online in PDF file format.
Drop us a line!
To tell us what you think - simply reply to this email.
Visit Us Online
|M-A-P, LLC ~ 4637 Streeter Road ~ Mantua, Ohio 44255|