Getting into the horse's head ...

Updated: Oct 6, 2019


What about the horse?

The following has been inspired by our horse riding instructor Eraldo Capuano during one of our riding class a few days ago. He said, “if you want to ride well, you have to be able to communicate with your horse, you need to let him or her know about your intentions so that he or her can respond as per your expectations, in a nutshell, you have to get into the horse’s head!”

As a manager, I thought that this was the same idea behind what engaging your team is about: It is about handling the way your team members are and provide the best response possible to how they are, how they unconsciously – or consciously engage with you.

When your team comes to you agitated, upset or excited it is in your best interest to respond in such a way that you increase the communication flow but that at the same time you don’t add to the emotional content.

This is where reading behavior in the moment of the other person comes handy!

Smart managers read behavior –

Reading behavior in the moment is one tool among many others that you can use to improve communication. For this, 1) ask yourself how the person is approaching his/her environment, 2) what his/her primary focus is and 3) follow a simple rule…

How is the person approaching his/her environment? In other words, how the person shapes the environment, i.e. how strongly a person is willing to make changes quickly around him/her, or, on the contrary, how the person is responding to the environment, i.e. a person who is moving more slowly, who wants to carefully understand the constraints, stay within the rules. Etc.

What is his/her primary focus? Is the person focusing on tasks, to-do lists, details? Or is the person focusing rather on people, relationships, interactions, who is involved etc.?

By answering these two questions, you can determine if this person is trying to direct, inspire, stabilize or regulate—and respond appropriately.

Once you have the behavior read, apply this simple rule: give the person what he/she needs.


Reading behavior, examples –

EXAMPLE 1 - Someone comes to you and asks for more resources, someone pounding on your desk saying “I need more resources”.

EXAMPLE 2 - How about someone excited, waving his hands around, talking about a new idea with a lot of emotional content.

EXAMPLE 3 - What about someone who comes to you in a more reserved way and talk to you about changes, how they’re going to affect people around them, if everything is going to be ok.

EXAMPLE 4 - What about someone who comes to you in a more reserved way and talk to you about changes, how they’re going to affect people around them, if everything is going to be ok?

So, remember! When someone is coming to you, ask yourself if they’re trying to direct, inspire, stabilize or regulate. If you read their behavior appropriately and respond accordingly, you will be a smart manager and you will get a lot more communication!