In yesterday’s post, I talked about going to Clinton Anderson’s Downunder Horsemanship Walkabout Tour over the weekend. I was so taken by the entire experience that I’m going to be posting about it all week. So much of his philosophy toward training a horse can be applied to our lives outside the arena.
Here’s today’s Clinton ‘n Kate on establishing respect.
(Note: Clinton Anderson doesn’t know me from Adam’s house cat, so know that I’m taking his name in vain, poor thing. I’ll do my best to quote him exactly and note where his wisdom ends and my expounding begins. And, yes, I’m going so far as to refer to him by his first name. This will read a lot easier. Plus, I’m older than him.)
The way Clinton’s demonstrations work is that a problem horse he hasn’t met before is brought into the arena for him to work with. The owner talks a bit about the horse’s personality and history and describes things that are a problem on the ground, under saddle, things that are frustrating or unsafe, etc. Then, Clinton applies his training method to this horse all the while narrating why he’s doing what he’s doing and why and even talking about why the horse is reacting (or not reacting) to him.
With every horse, no matter the problems the owner described, Clinton always started with the same comments about respect. You must have respect, he would say. Establishing respect establishes communication, he would say. And without respect, there are safety concerns because a horse will become assertive and pushy. He went on to talk a bit about body language and how you can know what a horse is thinking.
Tossing their head about, not standing still, rearing, striking, biting, refusing to get on a trailer…all these things a horse will do to get out of doing what is being asked and these are all signs that a horse has little respect for the owner or the job he’s to do.
Hearing him say these things before even having his own experiences with the horse was like being hit with a 2×4. He’s saying that immediately, right from the start, and without hesitation, a leader must have respect of the people who follow him. And, without respect, you’ve got no outcome. Not getting to work on time, missing deadlines, ignoring the dress code, working against company policy, gossiping…these are all signs of disrespect for the company and its owners.
Clinton would say you have to establish respect before you can even begin to correct behavior because lessons aren’t retained until that communication (i.e. respect) is in place. Another 2×4. I’d never thought about it like that. I have wondered why some organizations respond better to training than others, and I guess this is it. It makes sense. Are you going to willingly take instruction or constructive criticism from someone you don’t admire, trust or want to emulate?
And here’s the last crowning blow: the horse has to make the decision to go along with you, Clinton said. You can’t force an employee or co-worker to not spread their cynicism and bad attitude around the office any more than you can push or pull a 1200 pound animal through a water puddle.
Earning respect requires constant attention, repetition and practice. But if the leader will work diligently, he’ll get the respect.
I know, I know. You want to know how, right? How do I get my team to stand still and listen to my direction?
Clinton would say you can control the mind by creating movement. So, tomorrow, move your fingers over your keyboard, come back to The Civilized Minute and read Clinton ‘n Kate on change.