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Horse Sense for Farm Leaders

Author says you can learn from how horses behave.

Want to be a better leader? Take some lesson from horses, says author Joe Camp. He's written a book called "Soul of a Horse."

Here's the lessons he says he learned from horses:

1) "Never assume just because something has been done a certain way for hundreds of years that it's the right way," says Camp. "We mistakenly believed horses need shoes because it's accepted practice. In actuality, shoes damage a horse's hooves and impair its circulatory system. But you won't learn critical facts if you follow the status quo. Being a good leader means asking a lot of questions, not blindly following tradition."

2) Leadership is steeped in trust. Camp's voracious appetite for research helped him unearth secrets to establishing strong bonds with horses. He came across a technique using body language and gestures to imitate the way horses interact and communicate with each other—most importantly, inviting them to join your herd. Camp says the profound act of allowing a horse to choose whether or not it wants to be with you forges trust.

"Leadership is not free and it's not easy; you must earn trust," says Camp. "Establishing trust is vital to developing a relationship where your horse wants to try its best and work hard for you. The same goes for people; if they don't trust you, they will never give you 100%."

3) Ditch the intimidation tactics. Contrary to common belief, the stallion doesn't bully the herd into submission. His primary roles: procreating and protecting the herd from predators. The true leader is the matriarch; typically an older and wiser mare. She decides when the herd will eat, move to a new area, or stop to rest. The other horses view her as the steward of safety and survival. She's earned their trust because she knows when to discipline and when to politely seek good behavior.

"Using discipline is not the same as being an intimidator," says Camp. "Horses rely on the herd leader to steer them from harm—not inflict it upon them. Intimidation and fear damage the spirit and destroy trust. It simply doesn't work in the long run. Not with horses, not with people."

4) Take others' best interests to heart. "You don't really need to be a horse to be part of the herd," says Camp. "You just need to spend the time and effort to think like one. And you need to care. Those tenets also apply to leadership. Once people know you care and you can put yourself in their shoes and work from their end of the lead rope, you've fortified their belief in you as the leader."


Source: Joe Camp

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