Tips for Better Business Leadership: Five Things Your Subordinates Won’t Tell You

the boss
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This article is contributed by  Aileen Galsim.

As “The Boss”, you set the tone for everything that goes on at your place of business.  Socially, culturally, productivity-wise, it all comes down to you. The level of success your business achieves is directly related to the atmosphere you create. Continue reading “Tips for Better Business Leadership: Five Things Your Subordinates Won’t Tell You”

Working With Your Horse – Part 3: Communicating With That Other Brain

This is the third in a series of articles on Working With Your Horse.  The others were entitled:

In the second article, we explained that a simple way of understanding how a horse thinks is to consider that it has both a logical brain and an other brain.  The other brain handles all the sensory perceptions.  That exactly parallels what happens with we humans where we have both a logical brain and an other brain handling sensory perceptions.  The big difference is that in horses the other brain is much more active in directing the horse’s actions and reactions.  That is because horses are prey animals and must be constantly on the alert to be ready to flee at the first sign of a potential threat.

In working with your horse, you cannot ignore this other brain of your horse.  It will pick up on the very smallest indication you may give by your body language.  Equally if you are very perceptive, you may spot small movements in some part of the horse that will signal what they are thinking about or what they are concerned about.

However there is another factor that comes into play in the relationship between horse and rider.  If you read a book like Connecting with Horses: The Life Lessons We Can Learn From Horses or the videos produced by Martin Clunes. you might feel that the connection you develop with your horse will be one of mutual respect and camaraderie.

That has a measure of truth, but it really distorts reality.  The natural grouping for a horse is the herd.  Within the herd, it’s not just a great life of pleasurable companionship.  In any herd, there is a natural hierarchy – a pecking order.  Usually the lead mare will exercise complete authority over the others.  Only when she has finished drinking is any other horse, usually the next in the pecking order, allowed to approach the water.  The leader of the herd is constantly confirming its superiority.  When the time comes to flee from danger, it is she who will lead that flight.  If any horse is to be caught by the threat, it will not be the lead mare.  The strongest survive to continue to lead the herd.  Weaker horses may fall by the wayside and in some cases die.  This tough process may seem cruel to a compassionate soul, but it is the reality that most horses believe applies to them.

The human rider does not escape this herd mentality.  The horse may well wish to establish that it is the boss. Only if the human rider insists that the horse respects the rider’s  ‘space’ will both have an acceptable way of interacting.  When the horse trusts the rider, then it can be ready to accept that the rider is the leader.  These words are easily written but very hard to apply.  Every horse is unique.  Depending on their upbringing and the other horses and humans that have come into their ‘herd’ from time to time, they may appear to react in highly unpredictable ways.

Each trainer develops his or her own way of ensuring that their horse sees them as a leader.  In fact there is a wide divergence of views among trainers on what is acceptable in establishing that leadership position.  Horsemen (and horsewomen) in general are often soft-spoken people who quietly work to achieve their task of developing trust in their horses.  Taking up the cudgels and confronting someone with whom you disagree is very far from their nature.  However that is beginning to change.

Only two months ago, a video appeared on YouTube showing Pat Parelli appearing to abuse a stallion, “Catwalk”, at the Festival of the Horse Natural Horsemanship Demonstration.  This so incensed another high-profile trainer, Chris Irwin, that he went public with his condemnation of what was shown in that video.  Pat Parelli has since then responded to the criticisms of his behavior in the Catwalk Video but still seems to feel that what was done was the only way.

Provided you have the skill and experience to be able to communicate with the horse’s other brain through correctly reading the body language and sending the right signals, harsh methods are unnecessary and in fact counter-productive.  There are a number of fine trainers who demonstrate that:  just watch John Lyons or Doug Mills in action to see how it is done.

Here in Langley BC we now have the opportunity to see a very experienced horseman who is certainly in the same league.  Jay O Jay thrills audiences with what he can accomplish even with very young horses.  It’s a fine example of what the Langley Horse Federation Workshop  is encouraging to make the public more aware of just how much horses can enrich our lives.

Grassroots Leadership Development

That somewhat ponderous title, Grassroots Leadership Development, is a really powerful concept.  The W. K. Kellogg Foundation has produced a guide for grassroots leaders, support organizations, and funders.  The Grassroots Leadership Development Guide is available as a PDF file download.

You are invited and encouraged to read, use, and pass on this Guide. It was written because of a strong belief that nurturing and supporting grassroots leaders and their organizations is central to sustaining our democracy and to encouraging healthy, vibrant communities throughout the world.

These thoughts were triggered by an article by John Baldoni (Leadership at Work) entitled, What You Can Learn about Leadership from Jay Leno.  John Baldoni might be called the Leadership Guru and has written extensively on these matters.

Jay Leno brought his act, called the “Comedy Stimulus Show,” to the Motor City for two shows this week; tickets were free. A car enthusiast, as well as a collector, Leno has long exhibited a kinship with this blue collar city. “This is one of the great industrial cities,” Leno told his audience. “This is a city that actually makes a product.”

John Baldoni felt that Jay Leno’s way of doing things is a good one for leaders to follow. He felt that there were three actions that Leno does that leaders can use to inject some levity into the workplace.  These were his recommendations:

Point out absurdity.
Leno is a master at satirizing everyday reality. People can be hysterically unaware about history and current events. Same applies to the workplace. We all operate on assumptions that someone else makes the coffee, buys the doughnuts and brings all the snacks.
Lampoon hypocrisy.
Face up to the double standard perceived by automakers who feel that those on Wall Street have been bailed out while those in Detroit have been put out. In corporate terms, this duality plays out when bosses reduce bonuses while employees reduce salary. There are always dichotomies between what we say and what we do.
Take the high and mighty down a peg.
Start with yourself. Make it safe for people to make light of your shortcomings. If you tell a joke on yourself, you ease the tension in the room, especially when people are feeling uptight about work and their place in it.

And as with all things humorous, tread carefully.  Avoid jokes that lampoon gender and ethnicity; if you suspect a joke may be taken the wrong way, act on that assumption and don’t use it.

The point of humor in the workplace is not telling jokes; it is to lighten the mood.  A leader’s job is to make the work continue. It is up to leaders to keep people focused. Reminding them of their humanity through laughter is a good way to do it.

That’s all good as far as it goes.  Having a more pleasant atmosphere in the workplace and knowing the boss is just a regular guy must make something better.  However if that is all that’s involved, I believe it misses a great opportunity. 

Grassroots leadership could be seen as something that is left to the grassroots, as the Grassroots Leadership Development Guide mentioned earlier might imply.  Another recent Jay Leno interview points to a different concept of Grassroots Leadership.  That was the interview with Barack Obama.

It’s not just having an atmosphere that confirms the leader is a regular guy. That still leaves the leader as leader and the rest of the organization as followers going wherever their leader dictates. 

There is a different way of operating. It is to set up the organization and operate it in a way that supports and relies on the  grassroots leaders at all levels of the organization.  It is counting on the results that the followers will achieve if given their heads as leaders.  Here are some of the steps involved in making such grassroots leadership work.

  1. Having clear goals for all parts of the organization
  2. Providing the resources that grassroots leaders need
  3. Having mutual respect and giving people space to get results
  4. Measuring performance and expecting improvements
  5. Rewarding success

The items that John Baldoni found worthwhile in Leno’s performance are necessary to achieving grassroots leadership, but they are not sufficient.  The leader must walk the walk on the 5 steps just listed. 

Unfortunately such behaviour is very much the exception rather than the rule.  Only the really exceptional organizational leaders are capable of maintaining the effort that is needed.  That is true Grassroots Leadership Development.

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Profound Lasting Change Or Do A Little Better Each Day

Each day, I’m getting better and better.

How to Make Profound and Lasting Change is a blog post you’ll find on the Think Simple Now website. It’s tagline, Creativity, Clarity & Happiness, suggests the benefits you may achieve in exploring this website.

That particular post is all about a Google talk by Professor Srikumar Rao in the Leading@Google series. Dr. Rao had visited the Google Mountain View, CA headquarters to discuss his book, “Are You Ready to Succeed? Unconventional Strategies to Achieving Personal Mastery in Business and Life.” If you have 48 minutes to spare, you will most probably enjoy his talk.

You can get a sense of the concepts he discusses from the headlines used in the Think Simple Now blog post.

Learning New Concepts
Does this work for me better for my life than what I am presently using?
Profound Change
Three Important Building Blocks
1. Mental Chatter
2. Mental Models
3. Me-Centered Universe
Living in The Matrix
Steps for Altering Your Reality: An Exercise
1. Articulate a reality
2. Craft an alternative reality
3. Start living as if your alternative reality were THE reality
4. Write it down
Other Tips
a. Focus on just one
b. Mutual Support
c. Understand Why
d. Be Inspired
e. Reward & Celebration

It’s always a question whether such gurus have any real success in helping people make profound and lasting changes. The alternative approach of doing a little better each day has much to recommend it. That applies in any field. An upcoming SMM newsletter will discuss how that applies in Internet marketing. Stay tuned.