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Creative Ingenuity for the workplace


3 great leadership and life lessons I learned from a horse named Ginger.

Vital Germaine

I recently experienced a very unique and memorable Leadership Excursion at the Dust Devil Ranch Sanctuary in Las Vegas. I had no idea as to the value and how much I would learn and be reminded of. The takeaways were varied and multi-leveled but all actionable and impactful. In addition, the ranch contributes substantially to the community and are saving the lives of many horses.

We all need reminders of best practices.

Many leaders and influencers would agree that communication is a key component to establishing successful cultural platforms and relationships at work in general. My 3 take-aways focus on the art of communication that will make you a better leader without saying word. Most CEO’s and executive managers will be very savvy to the fact that leadership can have an overwhelming impact on a company’s bottom line. 

Jack Zenger writes a great article for FORBES, that demonstrates the direct correlation between great leaders communication and profits.

The graph below shows the impact of extraordinary leaders on the bottom line of the organization. The vertical axis shows total net income as $1.2M in losses for the bottom 10% of leaders, $2.4M for the middle 80%, and nearly $4.5M in gains for the top 10%. In summary, poor leaders lost money; good leaders made profit; and extraordinary leaders more than doubled the company’s profits in comparison to the other 90%!

Following this engaging leadership experience with a rescue horse named Ginger and her trainer, Katelynn,  I truly grasped the impact of the subtleties and nuances that our non-verbal language communicates. We all need reminders of best practices. It leads to consistent growth, improvement and learning – a must for great leaders.

         TOP 3 TAKE-AWAYS

1.    Be trustable, likeable and relatable.

The Horsemanship Leadership Excursion began with the trainer, and the owner Kri, helping us understand the fragility in developing a strong bond between the horse and the trainer (or whomever the horse would interact with during the leadership training). Each horse is very unique, as are humans. Both the horse and the human participants are observed in regards to their characteristic strengths and weaknesses. That information is shared to help build self awareness, with the objective that leaders and employees can grow and improve their skills and clarity of communication and elevate engagement.

Ginger, the red headed horse, had very specific traits unique to her that the Katelynn needed to know and understand in order to optimize the interaction. There is an organic synergy that develops between them, with the horse being very sensitive to all levels of the trainer’s energy and personality. The two must connect, trust, like and relate to each other for the encounter to be successful. The stronger and more streamlined the relationship is, the greater the odds of success…. sounds like the workplace and client experiences!

 2.    Clarity and simplification is key!

If Albert Mehrabian’s 7%-38%-55% rule is true, with the 55% relating to body language, then I had no other option than to self-evaluate how many confusing signals I had sent over the years and potentially confused team members. Self-awareness!

Most of us confuse our colleagues because our words and facial expressions don’t fully align with what our body is saying. We complicate the communication with unnecessary information.

It was self-evident that Katelynn, needed to be very specific and precise with her communication, less confuse the horse. If too many body parts moved, or the right body part wasn’t used clearly, then the horse would be lost, resulting in lost time and energy… sound familiar? Miscommunication costs organizations money!

David Grossman reported in “The Cost of Poor Communications” that a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees. Debra Hamilton asserted, in her article “Top Ten Email Blunders that Cost Companies Money,” that miscommunication cost even smaller companies of 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year.

 A Watson Wyatt study found that companies that communicate most effectively are more than 50% more likely to report turnover levels below the industry average compared with only 33% for the least effective communicators.

3.    Anticipation

Katelynn highlighted that one major component of effective interaction and “teambuiling” was her need to anticipate the horses behavior. Made me think of how great leaders are sensitive/aware to the pulse of their teams. It allows them to make needed adjustments ahead of time, minimizing roadblocks or loss or motivation. Equally, in order for business and organizations to remain relevant and competitive, they must by fully aware of shifts in markets and trends.


This blog will not do the amazing Leadership Excursion Experience justice, but will hopefully inspire you to explore its value. I highly recommend your leaders do it for themselves and reap the benefits.

Thank you for reading. If this blog was of value, feel welcome to comment, borrow, steal or share.