A Transformational Leader: An Anology

A Transformational Leader: An Anology

I am hyped up as I just came from a very interesting, mind-boggling, and inspiring training today. There were a lot of discussions and workshops. The facilitator was great.

The topic was Confronting Change - Lead with Courage and Optimism. In one portion, the facilitator gave us a story and made us share our analogy on how it relates to us. I am sharing the story with you and will highlight in blue some keywords. These keywords will be basis of my sharing later.

Becoming a Transformational Leader: An Analogy
(Taken from Deep Change Field Gide, Robert E. Quinn)
In his book The Man Who Listens to Horses, Monty Roberts tells how he discovered his potential. Monty grew up with a father who trained horses. Actually, his father "broke horses" using violent physical force.
Monty's father based his approach to horse training on assumptions of control. The objective was to subjugate the horse, break its spirit, and make it a slave to the rider's will. Seeing how the broken horse suffered, the young Monty vowed to find a better way.
On visits to Nevada as a youngster, Monty became fascinated with wild mustangs. He spent long hours observing these horses in the wilderness. He watched how they used their bodies to establish relationships, communicate, and shape behavior in the herd. He formulated hypotheses about what he was seeing. He began to recognize the hidden or deep organization of the herd.
Based on his reflection, Monty began experimenting with ways to use his eyes, hands, and body to communicate with the animals. Through trial and error, he was eventually able to communicate in the language of the herd. His goal was to build trust. Monty would adapt to the horse and the horse to Monty as each learned about the other. This would continue until the horse was willing to allow Monty to climb on and ride.
Monty eventually learned to train horses in a fraction of the time it took his father and his father's colleagues. His process was not only faster, his horses were more dependable and more responsive. Monty began transforming animals that other trainers had given up on. He even trained wild mustangs to be gentle mounts, a feat many trainers had considered impossible.
Monty became a master of change because of a self-disciplined self-change effort. He paid deep attention to how horses organize themselves, coming to know things that most people in his profession never learn. Through this process, he developed adaptive confidence, a belief that he could move forward into uncertain situations and learn what he needed to know as he needed it.
What does a transformational leader mean to you? How do you become transformational? We can answer that by looking at the characteristics of Monty in this story.
  • Care and be sincere.  

Ever wondered what motivated Monty to look for other ways to train the horses? He disliked the old way because it was violent. Monty cared for the horses. He loved them. To be transformational, one must sincerely truly care for the people you want to change.

  • Build trust and be trustworthy.

Influencing a person to change is relatively easy when there is trust. Trust is something that you don't get by default. It is not something freely given to you. A leader needs to earn it. Just like Monty, we need to spend time observing and conversing with our people. Be with them. Walk with them and understand them. Communicate.

  • Build relationship.

It is not only about you imparting what you know but also about learning from them. In a relationship, there is participation and respect. There is openness to each other. There is transparency.

  • Be sensitive.

I've highlighted trial and error in the story because it may have worked with the horses but not with people. With people, trust is sacred. Once it's broken, it's hard to regain. However, I want to believe that the "trial and error" statement here is meaning more of the environment rather than the act. We want to build a relationship where we are okay to fail. We build the benefit of the doubt. Nobody wants to fail, in the first place. Everyone plans to succeed. Therefore if something fails, that's accidental. Give the person a benefit of the doubt. "What could have been done differently? What were the gaps? How can we prevent it? How can I help you?". This is the type of conversation that should be happening. When we make mistake, we should be sensitive to sense it, learn from it, adapt, and act.

  • Adaptive Confidence.

​For Monty, there was no assurance that the horse would respond positively when he rode on its back. He just got on that horse and had to find his way with it. Leadership doesn't mean knowing 5 years ahead and giving assurance of the future. A leader cannot have all the answers. However we can make ourselves ready to change with it. A transformational leader should have the confidence to say, "As long as I am sensitive and be able to pick up what's going on, I can respond and learn to adapt."

Another point to bring out is Monty taming the wild mustangs. In our society, we need mustangs. We need people who are on fire, proactive, driven, thinks out of the box. We don't want to tame them or change them. We want them to channel all those for the greater good. The mustangs are the type of people we want to have. They are our check-and-balance. They are the game changers.




  • twitter
  • fb
  • stumble
  • linkedin
  • reddit
  • email