What Is True Leadership?

What Is True Leadership?

Before reading this, take some time – and I mean real time more then seconds and minutes – to think about your answer to this question and then compare notes…

The word itself can be transformed into the sentence: having knowledge ( -ship ) about leading (leader- ) The reason for me writing this article is just that : do we have the knowledge about leading? Do we really stop and think about this important question?

This triggers the next question : what is leading?

Most people see leading as having the upper hand, controlling others, telling them what to do and when to do it and this said, those people do not listen to feedback, questions raised or protest, want to be in control all the time. It’s all about telling others what to do …

Leadership obtained on that basis is a false illusion of leadership. It is obtained thru punishment, fear, restrictions, … Dominating another being : a one way monologue, not listening, not feeling, no empathy… Ego’s not asking a question with an open mind to all possible answers but only looking for the answer they want that confirms how good they are in who they are : ego’s ….

What true leadership should be about is : leading when you are worthy to lead and let yourself be led when you are not sure about yourself. Leading itself should be flexible in accordance to who you are leading. The ones you are leading should do what you ask of them because they trust you and understand you . They feel safe and respected in your guidance. If they do what you tell them to do because they must do it or else …. You dominate the other with no explanation why you want them to do it and hence not wanting the other to think meaning have an opinion about what you tell them to do. As a leader you should be willing to learn from the feedback that is given to become an even better leader. A true leader asks for co-op based on acceptance of the other : a 2 way communication of giving when the other needs support and receiving when the other has something to offer you … Every sentient being has something to offer others, every sentient being has a need for a leading hand in insecure situations because life itself is a road of successes and disappointments …. Only leading or only being led does not give us a balanced life! The leader types among us do not acknowledge their weaknesses, the followers among us have a disbelief in their own qualities. For both, this means a fear of belief in themselves and so opportunities for growth into a balanced being are missed …

horses-381813_640When narrowed down to interaction with horses : take the time to observe the leader you are ( or aren’t )with them as a mirror for the bigger picture of where you stand in any other interaction….  Are you a follower or a leader? Do you push or pull? Do horses walk all over you and take the lead – do you often say horses are dominant creatures and they scare you a lot? Or do you never accept a no for an answer? Do you always want them to do what you tell them to do? An animal you need to control all the time? Do you need whips, bigger bits, bigger spurs, draw reins, in other words bad torture excuses ( as they create obedience due to fear of pain )….. to make yourself believe you are in control? Where does that leave the horse in this interaction? I still have to meet the first horse person saying they do not love their horse but in what I see them do to horses it all boils down to pure mistreatment of another sentient warmhearted being. So where is that so called love …..?

True leadership should be based on unconditional love. At one time a college instructor asked me what I meant with that. I could not grasp she didn’t understand, her being an instructor supposedly teaching people respect for horses …. For me unconditional love is a sine qua non for true interaction with horses : acceptance of who they are with their individual abilities and restrictions. Not wanting them to be what we want them to be, but truly love them for who they are. Wanting to know with real interest and curiosity who they are. This does not mean over-pampering them out of false love but wanting to help them become more balanced when frustrated, in pain or scared. Not only seeing the gracious outside but looking inside. All horses are true gems if you only want to give them the space to show you their true nature.

A true leader runs on empathy : putting yourself in that spot and feel how you would react. This has nothing to do with feeling pity and then fall in the trap of over-pampering. What do you do when you are with someone that speaks a language you do not understand, one day friendly the other nasty,bullies you for not understanding, hurts you even more when in pain, …. And you do not have a voice to shout out loud. You only have a body that is talking, screaming, shouting but nobody listens …. And on top of that you are put in a cage and from time to time some food is ‘thrown’ at you… Would you be sane, balanced, happy?

It’s not that difficult to see false leaders in the traditional horse world and especially there, most people prefer to stay blind. But what is even more confusing, is that the ‘horsemanship’ world ( transformed in the sentence : having knowledge about horses ) is not that much better….

I invite all horse people to truly look in the horses eye and become a true leader by accepting them for what they are, creating the space for them to be just that : a horse, and making them feel safe, protected and as free as possible in our world, so they can become the true leaders they are. Guiding us in living here and now, teaching us awareness, helping us to become a more balanced self, …. A two way interaction in sync : leading and being led, giving and receiving. As that’s the only thing they want : nothing more, nothing less…

Valerie Cornille
EquiStyle – Belgium

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About the author


Mark is the founder and editor of HorseConscious, which provides a haven for those seeking a gentler, more equal way to be with horses that doesn't involve force or pressure. As well as building a community, where people can meet and exchange ideas, HorseConscious is also a focal point for education in these methods. The site is free for all and we are continually adding new articles and features and we'd love to hear of your experiences too!


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