How horses changed my leadership

By Richard Lambert, CEO, National Landlords’ Association
June 2019


Non-verbal communication is massively important. The horse gives instant, unbiased, non-judgemental responses to the non-verbal signals you give. Your attitude, energy and body language need to reflect your words and intentions if you are to get the response you need.

What was good about their session? What were your key take outs?

It was completely different to anything I have done, and I was prepared to think it was ridiculous (my wife had done something similar learning to herd geese and said that they only thing she learned from it was that geese are really difficult to herd). The strength of the approach is to ensure that all the practical activities are clearly tied into business psychology and to show how it relates to everyday working life.

The whole session is a metaphor for how people approach leadership and working with others. It is not enough simply to direct; you have to model the behaviours, attitudes and approaches that will create the responses in others.

How have you applied it back at the office (if you did)? What were the benefits?

I have been more conscious of how I need to be seen by the whole team. We were in the process of trying to lead a culture change through the organisational leaders modelling behaviours and attitudes. This session reinforced that message, and reminded me that I need to be doing that more than anyone. It encouraged me to draw more on the energy and support from the team around me, rather than expecting that I had to rely on my own resources. It also reinforced the importance of authenticity, and I have been more aware of the need to bring a bit more of my wider self into being the CEO – letting everyone see the football scarf and the band T-shirts under the suit.

My Leadership Team colleagues mocked the idea of me spending a day doing this before I went, but they all separately remarked on the change in my demeanour and energy in the week after, as did my wife and counsellor. I had been going through a difficult period personally following several close family bereavements, and this seemed to move something inside me, becoming the start of the real recovery phase.

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