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Experience 6 Executive Leadership Skills on Horseback


My journey with horses began in 2001 when I purchased two half-sister mares for my two daughters. I didn't anticipate that these two mares and the other horses I would buy in the decades to come would teach me some of the most powerful lessons on executive leadership I would ever experience. Horses and horsemanship can offer valuable insights into leadership that executives can apply professionally. The following are six lessons that horses will teach you.


Communication: Horses are highly attuned to non-verbal communication. They respond to subtle cues from their riders, such as body language, tone of voice, and energy. Similarly, influential leaders understand the importance of clear and concise communication and know how to verbally and non-verbally convey their message to inspire and motivate their teams.


Trust and Respect: Building a trusting relationship is crucial in horsemanship. Horses require trust in their rider to feel safe and secure. Likewise, leaders must establish trust and respect within their teams. Executives can foster an environment where employees feel valued and supported by demonstrating integrity, empathy, and consistency.


Emotional Intelligence: Horses are highly perceptive creatures, sensitive to the emotions of those around them. Similarly, influential leaders possess emotional intelligence, understanding and managing their own emotions while also being aware of and empathetic toward the feelings of their team members. This allows leaders to respond appropriately to different situations and create a positive work environment.


Adaptability: Horses are responsive to changes in their environment and can quickly adapt to new situations. Similarly, leaders must be adaptable and agile in the face of challenges, embracing change and encouraging their teams to do the same. Adjusting strategies and approaches as needed is essential for long-term success.


Patience and Persistence: Horsemanship requires patience and persistence to develop a deep connection with the horse. Leadership is no different. Influential leaders understand that progress takes time and effort and exhibit patience when guiding their teams toward goals. They also remain persistent in facing obstacles, motivating their team members to persevere and overcome challenges.


Self-Awareness: Horses provide immediate feedback to their riders' actions. They mirror the emotions and behaviors of their handlers, offering insights into their strengths and areas for improvement. Leaders who possess self-awareness can recognize their strengths, weaknesses, and biases, allowing them to make more informed decisions and grow as individuals and leaders.


Application

If the thought of reading one more dry book on business leadership principles puts you in an unconscious state, consider experiencing leadership principles from a horse. You don't have to own a horse to experience what horses can teach you about leadership. Locate a riding stable near you and ask to take a few lessons. By observing and practicing horsemanship principles, you can develop valuable leadership skills emphasizing effective communication, trust-building, emotional intelligence, adaptability, patience, persistence, and self-awareness. You may even find they are therapeutic for stress management. Leave your comfort zone, and get a leg over a horse near you.


About the Author

John Seville is an entrepreneurial technology and business leader. He has successfully launched four businesses during his career, Computer Consultants of Colorado, Chief Technology Consultants, (the) Center for Transformative Coaching, and his most recent venture, Ascent Leadership Group, which he started in 2018 and serves as the Managing Principal. In addition to his entrepreneurial ventures, John has served in multiple corporate CIO and COO roles. In 2013, the Denver Business Journal (DBJ) and the Society for Information Management (SIM) nominated John for the Colorado CIO of the Year award as one of three candidates. Outside of his vocational career, he serves on the Colorado Society for Information Management Board and is the Board President of the Colorado State Shooting Association. His recreational activities include horseback riding, participating in the Roundup Riders of the Rockies (3R), hiking, fly fishing, and hunting. Connect with John by emailing him at john.seville@AscentLeadershipGroup.com.


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