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February 3, 2020

Below is a lesson from CNN on leadership lessons from a horse whisperer, as well as our key learning.

The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth.  We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”.  We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning.  As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.


What executives can learn from a horse

By Jeanne Sahadi

Executives can read about the principles of good leadership and team building. They can attend conferences or hire coaches. But spending an hour watching a horse whisperer bond with and gain the cooperation of a wild, 1,000-pound horse can bring home important leadership lessons in an immediate, profound way.

Horses are acutely sensitive to human energy and body language, making them the perfect partner in real-time exercises involving trust and cooperation.

“It’s an amazing, amazing experience,” said Cece Morken, an executive vice president and general manager of strategic partnerships at Intuit.

Morken is one of hundreds of executives every year who have attended leadership demonstrations and training sessions by horse whisperer Grant Golliher and his wife, Jane, who run the Diamond Cross Ranch near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The couple has worked with leadership groups from up to200 organizations, including well-known public companies such as Google, Disney and Toyota, as well as private businesses, start ups, industry associations and government agencies.

Read more here.


Key Learnings:

  • Horse whisperers build a relationship with a skittish, untrained horse through a methodical display of respect, patience, and non-violent boundary setting.
  • The philosophy that informs his actions relies heavily on emotional intelligence to communicate and inspire – can apply when leading employees. 
  • Horses need freedom, and out of that freedom they are willing to yield. Otherwise you have a slave that does it because they have to. No loyalty.
  • There is real potential for fear, danger, and consequences – there is a power in love and kindness, of trust and establishing boundaries.
  • Principles to follow stress consistency, firm boundaries, and appreciation, all intended to build trust and confidence in the leader:
    • Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard – but let them choose.
    • Honor the slightest try and the smallest change – provide praise when headed in the right direction
    • Work as fast as you can but as slow as necessary – lead with feel. Tune in to where those you lead are, don’t tug at them to go where you want them to. Lead, don’t drag.
  • People and horses don’t respond well to impatience, nervous or angry energy from their boss.
  • Sometimes slower is faster.