Successful leadership depends on your level of understanding and commitment to your “followers”.
There’s little difference whether the relationship is between a parent and a child or a horse trainer and a horse. The latter is my specialty, but since both depend upon true Biblical principles, the mechanisms will be almost the same.
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Enforcement, or punishment, will never fix inability––and no amount of education will ever fix unwillingness.
The art of leadership is determining which situation you are dealing with: one who is unable or one who is unwilling. Once the root cause is established, as the leader, you must provide whatever is needed to make the follower now able or provide what will lead them to willingness.
The Role of Communication in Leader – Follower Relationships
What about the issue of communication? It does not change the process. The leader must decide whether adequate communication was given. If it was, then the follower is using lack of communication as an excuse. This is one example of unwillingness. If the leader determines that communication was not sufficient, then the follower was unable.
If you as the leader are not sure which is the true condition, always give the horse or the other person the benefit of your doubt. This is an example of grace.
I have trained several horses over the years that gave me incorrect responses on purpose, trying to get me to believe that I had over-cued them. There are some really smart horses out there, believe me. Usually the problem was one of boredom; the horse wasn’t challenged enough in my lesson plan and was looking for ways to entertain themselves. They were also testing my leadership.
Unwillingness Requires a Consequence Every Time
If the horse or child is unwilling to comply, we must apply an appropriate consequence each and every time. Education is not the fix many activists and politicians would have you believe. It is not true that “knowledge is virtue”; the belief that if only one knew the facts, one’s behavior would fall right in line with prevailing ideals of right and wrong.
Education never creates willingness; education can only address inability. The devil himself believes in God; he is aware of the facts. Yet this true knowledge does not incline Satan to obedience to God; he is absolutely unwilling.
- excerpted from Amazing Grays, Amazing Grace” Pursuing relationship with God, horses, and one another. by Lynn Baber, Tate Publishing, 2010
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