5 Leadership Lessons From Horseback

Every year since 2015 I have been blessed to take a trip with friends to ride horses somewhere around the world. I have completed ten rides on four continents. Since riding and leadership are both deep in my blood, It is always fascinating to me to extract the leadership lessons from each experience. And there are many. This article is a highlight reel of the top five leadership lessons the horse adventures have generated. It was inspired by a recent podcast I was asked to record about the horse trips which is included below. Frankly, the podcast is good entertainment and less business-specific so just in case you don’t have time or the inclination to travel with me virtually on the podcast, I have boiled it down to these essential lessons for every leader.  At the end of this article are links to the individual articles from each ride.

Recently, John Harrer asked me to be a guest on his WHOA Podcast about Horses and Horsemanship to describe the trips and some of the leadership lessons. He had read some of the articles and was intrigued. That podcast is posted here Horseback Adventures and Endurance Riding ⋆ The Whoa Podcast and I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed reflecting on past experiences. 

Looking back on the leadership takeaways, there are several key themes. The headline is you can’t accomplish what you have never done by relying on what you have always done. None of these experiences would have happened if I wanted to be comfortable and focus only on that which I know. To grow personally, professionally or corporately, requires embracing something new. Here are the top 5 things for every leader to remember:

  1. Habit impedes growth. If we are blinded by habit, we don’t explore what is considered the impossible or even improbable and yet, that may be exactly the opportunity for growth that has the most potential. Usually, what limits us is not that we can’t, but we believe we can’t. Believe you can until you prove that you can’t, but along the way you will see that you can do more than thought possible originally. Ask yourself what would 10x growth look like. Can you reach it? Maybe not. But even if you achieve 3x or 5x growth, would it be more than you ever thought possible? https://www.breakthroughmaster.com/2020/06/what-i-learned-in-one-day-in-egypt-about-leading-around-blind-corners/
  1. Understand the “why”. Don’t just operate in the “what”—the processes and systems that you have inherited or that supported the business in its early days. Ask “why”? Establish the desired outcome and create different solutions if the current approach doesn’t yield the intended results. Chances are your past behaviors are outdated by market changes or are limiting productivity because they are too manual. Invest in a few key things that your inspection reveals as having significant performance implications. https://breakthroughmaster.com/business-growth-is-veiled-by-what-you-dont-know/
  1. Adaptability is key.  Nothing is certain and completely in our control. Where possible we have to anticipate potential challenges from competitors, economics or legislation. But sometimes we can’t possibly know what lies around the corner, so we have to be agile. To manage the unexpected requires that everyone has clarity around the vision and goals so new solutions are still oriented toward them. The organization needs to be aligned in priorities and resources allocated accordingly. https://breakthroughmaster.com/adaptability-how-to-manage-the-unexpected-and-still-meet-your-goals-even-in-portugal-and-morocco/
  1. Be the leader you most admire. While we all inherit legacy operations, people or circumstances in our professional lives, it is what we do with it that matters. We can’t change the past, but the future is ours. Ask yourself what you want your legacy to be? Set a goal to improve a select number of things that can make a real difference to employees or the organization’s future. As a leader it is critical to be intentional. And yet along the journey remember to be in the moment, look at what is right in front of you, the people, the product, the landscape. What can you do in that moment that creates a memory? Encourage, inspire and motivate. https://breakthroughmaster.com/jordan-what-leaders-learn-from-what-they-dont-see/
  1. Once underway towards a stronger future, Maintain forward motion. It is easier than ever to be distracted from goals. The leader is responsible for setting the path, identifying challenges and then mitigating risk, and keeping the group moving together. The best leaders set a cadence and know how to manage individuals for the most effective group outcome. They create a team that is stronger together. https://breakthroughmaster.com/the-power-of-forward-motion/

Other Trips:

Jordan 2023

Morocco & Portugal 2022 

Egypt 2020               

India 2019                   

Morocco 2017    

Spain 2015               

Other Blogs:      

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