blogging about DIRECT LEADERSHIP

Leadership deliverables in Horse Kingdom (and other places)

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Life is back to normal. Almost everybody here in China have now returned from their New Years holidays and the Year of the Horse 2014 is upon us, and to remind us here in our part of town this golden beauty now stands on a pedestal at the end of our road.


As I walked past the statue the other day I was thinking about leadership. Seeing the horse I went on to wonder was how can animals tell who is leading and what those leaders want? Is it all just a matter of BEING the individual with the hormonal and physical look and feel of a lead horse, or do lead horses actually show certain behaviors, produce certain deliverables by way of guiding their followers.

As it turns out, they do.

Inspired by Golden Beauty above, I checked with Wikipedia and found that there are indeed specific roles and specific behaviors as well as organizational patterns by which the lead horses in a herd exercise and communicate their leadership deliverables. Let me quote just a few excerpts:

…Once a dominance hierarchy is established, horses more often than not will travel in rank order… higher-ranked animals often will assume a role of exercising control and moderating aggressive behavior in the herd…

 the actual leader of a wild or feral herd is often the alpha or dominant mare She tends to lead when the herd travels, although not always, and determines the route when the herd moves between locations…

…Stallions tend to stay on the periphery … where they fight off both predators and other males… most of the time, the stallion is … “guarding” the herd by scent-marking ….to communicate his dominance as herd stallion…

… Horses communicate in various ways, including vocalizations…, touch,  mutual grooming or nuzzling; smell; and body language. Discipline is maintained in a horse herd first through body language and gestures, then, if needed, through physical contact …

Why is this interesting for us humans?

Because it shows us that leadership – even among animals – relies on deliverables. There are roles that must be observed, messages to be communicated, different behaviors that must be visible and noticeable to the followers.

Therefore…. if you are someone who still subscribes to the common fantasy, that leadership is an unspecific personality trait that you either have or do not have, then open a new document on your computer. Do it now as you are reading this. Copy this text:  “leadership relies on personality traits”, paste it to your new document, read it out loud, pause for a second and then push TRASH.

Now open a fresh document and copy/paste the below:



Then first push PRINT followed by SAVE.

Because this one you want to keep and place somewhere that helps you remember.

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions on December 31st?

If not – or if you forgot what they were – why don’t you consider making one here at the beginning of the Lunar New Year? My suggestion? To learn the leadership deliverables as they apply to people this year…

Happy New Year of the Horse 2014!


Written by Karin Zastrow

February 19, 2014 at 04:15

Posted in Misc

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