The Release is what teaches

I follow this great group called Tuskey Dressage on facebook.  They are an amazing barn out of Wisconsin.  They posted a saying “it’s the release that teaches”.  When you are training a horse it’s all about pressure and release.  Pressure is a way to teach horses to react to something.  For example, you look at the horses flank to put pressure on to make them turn toward you.  Release the pressure the minute they look at you is the way to teach them to react to your pressure.

Leadership is very similar, we can apply pressure in such a way that either drives certain behaviors or remove others.  For example if you have an employee who is continually late you may wait at their desk for them to arrive.  You are applying pressure in  way that shows you are unhappy with this behavior.  When the employee arrives on time you won’t be there.

Press and release can teach all of us how to be better leaders, and we should not be afraid of the pressure.

For example I am teaching my horse to walk with me and share our energy.  We do this by walking side by side with a training whip.  When I stop he should stop in a specific place, if he doesn’t I apply pressure to his chest to back up.  When he stops where I want he gets loved.  You see walking this way is unnatural for horses so I am teaching him to trust me.  This is tough for him and he often tries to bite me while I do this.  Last week he tried to rear simply because there was too much pressure.

In the same way our teams may react negatively to the pressure, our job as leaders is to not react to their reaction.  We often want to get angry or upset.  Take a step back, my horse isn’t rearing because he’s mad at me, he’s doing this because he’s feeling the pressure.

This week, think about the pressure you can apply to change behaviors and don’t take it personally if your team reacts to that pressure!!

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