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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Are You Lost in the Business Wilderness? You Need to Know Your True North!

Some time ago, my wife, Hilary, gave me a birthday present of a two day course in horse training presented by Kelly Marks at her stables in Witney, Oxfordshire.

Kelly, a former champion female jockey, is the UK representative of the legendary Monty Roberts from California who has evolved an amazing form of training that allows full control of the horse without any pain or fear.

In brief, the trainer sends the horse round a large circular arena at a canter, changing direction from time to time but never actually touching the horse.

After a short while the horse begins to show signs of licking and chewing and reducing the diameter of the circle until it eventually comes to a halt.

At that stage the trainer approaches the horse very gently with no eye contact until he/she is about 3-4 metres from the horse at which stage they turn away from the horse and stand still.

This I found the most emotional part of the whole process because after a very short wait one feels the horse’s chin on the shoulder implying that he wants to join up with the trainer and please, would the trainer be the pack leader?

The horse is rewarded by patting and scratching on the face and muzzle and sometimes even given a small treat.

This is a very brief outline of the most significant part f the training.  The old and still used technique for breaking a horse is by fear and the infliction of pain to make it react suitably and Monty Roberts rebelled against it.  Incidentally it takes about six weeks to “break” a horse in this manner.

He tested his theories in the wilds of Nevada with feral horses and gradually realised that every horse uses a language or at least a form of communication that he called Equus.

To illustrate how effective his method is, I have found a video showing a completely unbroken two year old thoroughbred being brought into the ring and 23 minutes later was being saddled and ridden round the arena. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Dx91mH2voo)  Please forgive the advertisement at the beginning)

All very fascinating, I hear you say, but what has it got to do with business?

I believe that it covers the most important factor in leadership and that is to ensure that the people in the business actively want to work with the leader and the company rather than merely being cannon fodder and working purely for the income.

It is a no-pain, no-fear technique and that implies no-blame for any mistake that might occur.

It is acceptable for the leader to lay down the ground rules and communicate the objectives to everyone.  However at the stage the leader metaphorically gets out of their way and allows freedom for everyone to operate to the best and in their own way to achieve the objectives.

Pain and fear in the lexicon of leadership implies top down authoritarian management, a long dis credited method.

Inclusive leadership says that the leader starts the process which is then completed by the team in theory own way but to laid down values and timetables.  That way the leader will achieve that desirable state of “join up”.

Incidentally when Monty Roberts was working in Nevada if he was lost in wooded country he realised that in the northern hemisphere, moss and lichen grows on the north side of a tree trunk so he could then orientate himself.

Fro this he evolved the idea that reads:

·      “Know your true north”


In other words, know your objectives and know your direction of travel to achieve them.

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