Paul (not his real name) was CEO of the UK division of a global pharmaceutical company when he participated in a LeadChange workshop. His experience illustrates the power and accuracy of the ‘equine mirror’.
In a 1:1 session, Paul was being coached on his approach to achieving company objectives. He told the coach: ‘as a business, we set objectives each year – and if we achieve 80% of them, we feel we that have been successful’. As the coaching progressed, Paul made a connection with the horse, and walked with it at liberty (no head-collar or lead-rope) around the perimeter of a large round pen. 80% of the way round the horse walked away from Paul and stood in the middle of the pen. Observers wanted to know how we (the facilitators) ‘trained the horse to do that’!
Of course, the horse had not been trained. Paul was running the pattern ‘80% is a result’ and the horse’s highly-tuned sensitivity to energy picked up that feeling of achievement as Paul completed 80% of the circuit. He began to realise that his managers and employees might also be responding to the same subtle signals, and relaxing when the business had achieved 80% of its annual objectives!
Paul re-ran the exercise – this time maintaining 100% focus – and the horse faithfully followed him all the way round. The experience made him much more aware of what he was communicating at work through subtle, non-verbal signals, and of the importance of maintaining focus to deliver 100%.
What would the equine mirror reflect back to you about your leadership?