3 positions of leadership – Leading from the front

We can learn much from horses about teamwork and leadership in business. In our workshops with horses, we share a leadership model that the horses use to create cohesive teamwork. It involves three positions of leadership and we will explore Leading from the front in more detail in this post.

Many of our clients have found this leadership model to be enlightening and have embraced and implemented it into their business with substantial success. The model is based on building relationships rather than a more traditional command and control style of leadership which does not engage and inspire employees. The success of the team is dependent on every team member taking responsibility for leadership and changing their position within the team according to what they believe is needed in each moment.

The model we use is adapted from a model developed by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling. He observed that there are three different leadership roles in a herd of horses:

  • Leading from the front where the leader sets the pace, destination and direction
  • Leading from the side where leaders coach each other in a democratic leadership style and ensure everyone is moving forward together in the same direction
  • Leading from behind which has a check and balance style of leadership and drives the team forward to maintain momentum

Each member of the team is leading at different moments, and all are essential to the success of the team.

It might seem obvious that dragging or shoving half a ton of horse is impossible yet many employees feel as though they are on the receiving end of this behaviour in the workplace. When we work with horses, we are always working at a fine-tuning level of leadership to maximise leaders’ effectiveness so we reduce coercion and passivity and help leaders find that knife-edge of assertiveness when they are leading out of the comfort zone. Asa result, they improve their ability to flex and adapt to what is needed in any given situation and are able to inspire their teams much more easily.

In this post, I share an extract from my book Leadership Beyond Measure which explores leading from the front in more detail.

Leading from the front
The alpha mare is the most dominant member of the herd and leads from the front. Her role is to set the pace, direction and destination. Since horses are a prey animal, they are on the alert for danger. Imagine a pack of wild dogs appears, the alpha mare will decide where the herd go, how they get there and how fast they go.

If the dogs are close by, she will set off at a gallop. If they are further away, she will set off at a walk. She will go as fast as is necessary to keep the herd safe. This way, the herd conserve their energy for when it is most needed. Many people in business are going at three hundred miles per hour constantly. That is exhausting, and more balance is essential to prevent burn-out and work-related stress.

In a workplace setting, the leader of the company and each team and department usually lead from the front. For example, the MD or CEO will set the strategy and vision for a company. A Project Manager defines clear goals and objectives for his project team. A leader of a team translates the vision and goals so everyone on their team has clear expectations. Everyone at some point will need to lead from the front.

If nobody takes the lead from the front or the vision and direction are not clear enough, the team gets diverted and disperses. This can ultimately lead to conflict in the team and causes increased workload as the team become ineffective. If you’ve ever sat in a meeting and listened to a discussion go round and round without a decision, you’ve experienced what happens when nobody is leading from the front.

And if you’ve ever sat in a meeting where everyone talks over the top of each other, then you’ve experienced what happens when everyone is trying to lead from the front!

One of the challenges of leading from the front is you can get so far ahead that you lose the team. It is essential to keep checking that all team members are coming with you and understand where they are going. A common mistake in organisations is to believe that the strategy and vision have been clearly communicated when they have not. If the team is not doing what you want them to do, the destination, pace and direction need to be clearer.

When leading from the front, the focus is in the direction you are heading. If you keep turning round and looking back, you create a stop/start behaviour in your team. It indicates doubt, a lack of self-belief and self-confidence. Leading from the front requires enormous trust in yourself and the team and a belief that people will execute the strategy you have set. Be purposeful, focused, committed and clear about where you are heading or the team may stall.

In today’s business environments of rapid transformation and change, leading from the front is critical to providing the clarity and vision that employees need in order to drive the business forward.

How clear is the vision in your business and team?

Next month, I’ll explore Leading from behind and how it is critical to drive the team forward in line with the vision and pace that has been articulated.

Jude Jennison is an international speaker, author and Horse Assisted Educator with a 16 year senior leadership career in a global IT organisation, where she led UK, European and global teams.

Jude helps senior leaders and executive teams develop embodied leadership skills that create tangible business results. By receiving a horse’s non-judgemental feedback, any leader can identify their leadership behaviours and transform themselves into a courageous and hugely influential non-verbal communicator.

For more information on our leadership development programmes,
contact us on 0800 170 1810 or visit our website www.theleadershipwhisperers.com

NED :: Non-Executive Director’s proposition

Are you aware of the substantive and measurable value a Non-Executive Director can bring to you and your business…?

Introduction

The Non-Executive Director, no longer a role that is associated just with large organisations. There is a growing awareness of the NED role and more and more organisations are appointing NEDs of various types, and specific specialities, often within technology and digital transformation, to enhance the effectiveness of their boards as standard practise.

With the pressure on organisations to compete globally, deal with digital transformation and respond to rapidly changing market conditions, new skills are needed at board level. This leads to the role of the NED diversifying and introduces a need to refresh the NEDs as circumstances change, bringing in new specialities, experience and challenge when the organisation needs it.

A good NED can, and should make a substantive and measurable contribution to the effectiveness of the board. Do not see a NED as a consulting advisor – a NED, within the remit of the role of a company director, play a full and active part in the success efforts of an organisation. Irrespective of the skills, experience and network contacts that NEDs will bring, they must above all, provide appropriate independent and constructive challenge to the board.

Both the organisation and the NED must understand the purpose of being a NED, within the specific organisation, for the role to be effective. This includes a clear understanding of what value the NED is expected to bring. A NED’s value goes beyond just the statutory requirements.

On appointment a Non-executive director can:

  • Broaden the horizons and experience of existing executive directors.
  • Facilitate the cross-fertilisation of ideas, particularly in terms of business strategy and planning.
  • Have a vital part to play in appraising and commenting on a company’s investment/expenditure plans.
  • Bring wisdom, perspective, contacts and credibility to your business.
  • Be the lighthouse that helps you find your way and steer clear of near and present dangers.

The role of the NED

All directors, including NEDs, are required to:

  • provide entrepreneurial leadership of the company
  • set the company’s vision, strategy and strategic objectives
  • set the company’s values and standards
  • ensure that its obligations to its shareholders and others are understood and met.

In addition, the role of the NED has the following key elements:

  • Strategy: NEDs should constructively challenge and help develop proposals on strategy.
  • Performance: NEDs should scrutinise the performance of management in meeting agreed goals and objectives and monitor the reporting of performance.
  • Risk: NEDs should satisfy themselves on the integrity of financial information and that financial controls and systems of risk management are robust and defensible.
  • People: NEDs are responsible for determining appropriate levels of remuneration of executive directors and have a prime role in appointing, and where necessary removing, executive directors, and in succession planning.

“In broad terms, the role of the NED, under the leadership of the chairman, is: to ensure that there is an effective executive team in place; to participate actively in the decision–takingprocess of the board; and to exercise appropriate oversight over execution of the agreed strategy by the executive team.”; Walker Report, 2009

 

A non-executive director will bring the follow benefits to your company:

  • strengthen the board and provide an independent viewpoint
  • contribute to the creation of a sound business plan, policy and strategy
  • review plans and budgets that will implement policy and strategy
  • be a confidential and trusted sounding board for the MD/CEO and keep the focus of the MD/CEO
  • have the experience to objectively assess the company’s overall performance
  • have the experience and confidence to stand firm when he or she believes the executive directors are acting in an inappropriate manner
  • ensure good corporate governance
  • provide outside experience of the workings of other companies and industries, and have beneficial sector contacts and experience gained in previous businesses
  • have the ability to clearly communicate with fellow directors
  • have the ability to gain the respect of the other directors
  • possess the tact and skill to work with the executive directors, providing support and encouragement where difficult decisions are being made
  • have contacts with third parties such as financial sources, grant providers and potential clients

Looking for a NED?

Now that you understand what a NED can do – What are you waiting for?

Contact Renier Botha if you are looking for an experienced director with strong technology and digital transformation skills.

Renier has demonstrable success in developing and delivering visionary business & technology strategies. His experience include Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), major capital projects, growth, governance, compliance, risk management as well as business and organisation development. From startup to FTSE listed enterprise, the value Renier can bring as NED is substantive, driving business growth.