In most of our workshops, the horses are loose in the arena with nothing on them with which to lead them or coerce them into doing something. This challenges our clients to look at things from a different point of view and consider the perspective of the one they’d like to lead. In the words of a famous horseman, “We want our idea to become their idea, but we’ve got to understand their idea first.” (Sounds like a good leadership principle to me!)
Metaphors are an important part of the work we do in the arena.
- What does the horse represent?
- What does the obstacle represent?
- What does the halter represent?
- How do these relate to how things work in the office?
It’s interesting to observe how clients view the halter and how they use it.
- Do they pull hard on the horse from the front to get it to move?
- Do they get the horse moving in a general direction toward the goal and then utilize the halter to guide the horse?
- Does the horse lead the client where it wants to go?
- How does the horse react to the halter?
Answers to these questions highlight the way our clients work with their teams and their customers.
Lately, we’ve had several clients who’ve chosen to use the halter and lead rope in an exercise after first having tried the exercise without it.
Depending on the client, they’ve reported that the halter represented control, boundaries or direction to them. One client wondered if she could use the halter in a way that was not “compelling” to the horse. She didn’t want to ‘make’ the horse do what she asked, but she did want the horse to complete the task set before them.
One example of the insight created by the use of a halter was this: The team had been trying to motivate one of the horses to move across the arena to a specific spot.
When the horse was unhaltered, she swished her tail and put her ears back indicating that she was not interested in fulfilling any requests from the humans. She had a plain old “bad attitude.” Once she was haltered, the team was able to lead her “the goal” without an issue. When we asked the team “What did the halter represent” they identified it as “guidance.”
When the team tried to move the second horse to “the goal,” they were surprised to discover this second horse was more cooperative without the halter. The use of the halter actually caused resistance in this horse.
As they related what they learned about the horses to their work environment, this team experienced the understanding that some people (and horses) are more productive with clear guidance and direction, while others view that guidance as stifling their creativity. Both met “the goal” in different, but equally valuable ways.
Do you wonder what your team might learn from a horse? Come try us out. Details can be found here.