WHEN IT COMES to wisdom there is much we can learn from animals. In his book
Lead with Your Heart: Lessons from a Life with Horses (Storey Publishing, ;;;;; not
available at Costco), neurosurgeon, professor and horseman Allan J. Hamilton notes
that working with horses showed him a path to becoming a better person, husband and
father. Hamilton, a Costco member in Tucson, Arizona, offers these lessons from horses
for business leaders, excerpted from his book.—Steve Fisher
BY ALLAN J. HAMILTON
Agendas hurt relationships. As a trainer, you have to realize
that you are training the
horse for the long haul
and not for short-term
results. Nothing should
compromise your integrity with the horse. Be patient and take as
much time as required for that particular
horse, on that particular day, to succeed at
the given task. Don’t try to force the horse
Equines inspire business leadership
JULY 2017 The Costco Connection 27
someone or something pushes: We want to
resist. With a horse, physical resistance is
a dead-end strategy: A ;,;;;-pound horse
will win any physical contest with a human.
So, very quickly, the trainer learns to stop
creating resistance and seek compromise.
In business, you have to think: Am I
creating a line of resistance? If you feel
that tug of resistance in your gut, it’s time
to switch gears and think: How can I get
the other party to be willing to flow with
me in the direction I want to go? The art of
negotiation lies in avoiding opposition and
Make the right thing to do easy. The
trainer tries to teach the horse good habits,
to pick up the right routines. While the
horse is learning, you want to help it. You
want to make the right response easy and
the wrong response difficult.
Likewise, when you are training someone, you should always be asking: “How
can we make this easier to learn, to do, to
assimilate?” Your job is to look ahead for
obstacles and keep things flowing.
A better trainer means less training.
The very best trainers and educators are
the ones who make the process of learning
fun and who make the training seem almost
a byproduct of the adventure of education.
The best trainers and leaders—in the round
pen or the boardroom—engage the learner
in a sense of mutual undertaking, discovery
and achievement. It is effortless because it is
a matter of motivation and not compulsion.
Leadership is determined by the 4 C’s.
The alpha mare has to earn the allegiance
of the band each and every day. She does it
by showing the herd that she can put their
welfare before her own. She needs to demon-
strate the ; C’s of leadership: command,
control, communication and compassion.
Command: If the moment calls for it, a
good leader must know how to give instruc-
tions (commands) that are unmistakable.
Control: A leader needs to be able to
control the herd and hold its instinct to
panic or scatter, in check. A herd that moves
in unison, zigging and zagging as a unit,
confuses a pursuing predator.
Communication: Part of it is style, part
of it is content. Part of it is communicating
what needs to get transmitted and leaving
out anything that dilutes the message or
confuses the herd (or the company).
Compassion: Understand how the members of the group might feel, what concerns
and fears need to be dealt with.
The ; C’s are easy to enumerate, difficult to practice. That’s why leadership is
better bestowed than assumed. C
Allan J. Hamilton ( allanhamilton.com) is
a neurosurgeon, horse trainer and developer
of equine-assisted learning programs.
to do something. That is when the horse is
most likely to spook and when you are more
likely to get hurt. Why? Because the horse
realizes very quickly that you are in it for
your own needs.
In a corporation, it’s the same thing. If
you focus too much on driving up productivity relentlessly and no longer put the welfare
and well-being of your workers foremost in
your mind, you won’t have a loyal workforce.
Find the curve of compromise. We
humans tend to react instinctively when