I’ve seen a single horse change a leader’s professional trajectory in a matter of minutes.
My client had been getting some feedback from his team about how his style of communication creates friction and intimidation. He went with me up to the Take a Chance Ranch to work with Beth Anstandig and her herd of animals.
I watched him enter the ring with the horse, absolutely focused on connecting with her.
But the more he zeroed in on her, the more the horse seemed distracted. Her ears were pointing back and she avoided his gaze.
Why was it that the more he tried the more she pulled away?
My client wasn’t taking the needs of his herd into account. He wasn’t paying attention to the environment around them- the squawks of the chickens, or the wind in the trees. That meant she had to hold all that awareness on her own. She didn’t trust him because he was only focused on himself and his wants.
Once my client acknowledged the whole picture around them, the horse began to move closer. Their connection grew stronger because my client became willing to take on some of the awareness. This translates to the workplace all the time.
You can take your relationships (professional and personal) to the next level by understanding that we are all a part of a human herd. Herd mammals have finely tuned nervous systems, required to react and collaborate with other herd members.
There are ways to build trust and become a more conscious member of your personal herd. The fastest way? Taking the needs of the herd into account.
Your team members are showing up to work with their own concerns, whether they are personal, larger-scale issues like politics, or concerns about the future of your business. When you don’t acknowledge their concerns or even worse, instruct your team to disregard those feelings and instead focus on execution, you’re sending the message that they have to hold that awareness on their own.
If your team is concerned about something, you acknowledging that their concerns are valid will help them move toward you.
When you can take the needs of everyone in a room into account then you can build trust. That trust will naturally result in followership and connection.
Self Care Matters Even More than you’ve been told
In any animal group, a herd member not taking care of themself would be rejected from the group. Seems harsh, huh?
But people are no different, it just plays out in a different way in workplaces. Our nervous systems are wired to sync up with the most stable nervous system available to us.
On a leadership level, if you focused on self-care and honoring your needs, those around you will natural want to sync up with you. You want to look at what happens when people are around you. Are you inspiring people to be with you and support what you have in mind? Are people feeling psychologically safe? Or do you have a team around you in states of stress?
Humans are connected. Your nervous system is constantly sending messages to other people (and animals) around you. When you’re stable and calm it allows others to feel stable and calm. As mammals, we are wired to get to that state of stability and ease as fast as possible. Of course, right? We’d all prefer to be around someone that makes us feel calm versus someone who boosts our tension and stress.
The bottom line is this- those around you are going to trust you if you’re taking care of yourself. In the animal world, if you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not a trustworthy mammal. Makes sense because if you don’t take care of yourself, why in the world would I think you’d be able to take care of me?
As soon as you start taking care of yourself and setting an example of what that looks like, it encourages those around you sync up with your program and do the same.
Enhancing your leadership through self-care starts with making the conscious decision every day to start tuning into your mammal needs. Even though you’ve been taught to ignore it or override it, you want to listen to the wisdom of your body. Without judgment, without shame, and without guilt.
Self-care and fighting burnout doesn’t mean you have to take a 3-month vacation. It’s about making small adjustments throughout your day.
Stand up and stretch for two minutes.
Get some fresh air with a quick walk around the block.
Grab a glass of water.
Head to the restroom instead of waiting for a “convenient” time.
All of those micro adjustments matter. Become a leader that others naturally trust by taking care of your needs and setting the precedent that tuning into your body’s wisdom is valued in your workplace.