Management consultant Margit Dellian in Germany explained to me why the noble, sensitive, beautiful and highly intelligent horses from Portugal are particularly well suited as executive coaches. She created and founded http://www.equi-com.de/ management seminars with horses. Margit works almost exclusively with Iberian horses, including three handsome stallions.
I’ve been excited to do this interview with Margit for quite some time as I find it an extremely interesting topic. For 20 years I had my own company in Corporate team building, communication and management development in UK and around Europe. I was very fortunate to work with leading Global corporations at high level management. I found the most effective, long lasting results came from activities where course participants were interactive both physically and mentally. We used games, challenges physical and mental, outdoor activities and theatre skills in our courses.
My work experience led me to firmly believe good communication is about ‘valuing our differences’ . To be good leaders we need to understand how we communicate both in the words we use but even more importantly how we portray ourselves through our physical presence and actions. The person or animal we are communicating with receives the signals we project from – our eye contact, our breath, our movements, our body stance, our energy – These subtle ways of giving out messages have much more impact than what we actually say. So if our subtle messages are apposing our verbal communication we are are giving a confusing impression.
Effective leadership requires quality dynamic communication. In order to be effective we must learn to become more aware of the person we are communicating with. We need to look to find the right ways to communicate with others – as they would prefer and not as we would prefer. It is amazing to think our equine friends can assist in finding better ways to communicate and lead others.
I met Margit in Portugal some years ago, she had a young Iberian horse in training at the same yard as I had mine. Margit was looking for a new member of her management team – preferably a dun Lusitano Stallion. The mission was set.
So one weekend a short while later Nuno Andrade (dressage rider and trainer) and I went horse shopping! The result was a stunning dark chesnut sport Lusitano for Nuno and the beautiful Atila for Margit.
ATILA is a purebred Lusitano stallion with the considerable height of 168 meters. He comes from the famous bull fighting lines at Manuel Tavares Veiga and was in his youth actually trained by a Portuguese bullfighter. When Margit saw him in the videos and photos she was completely smitten, he was immediately purchased. After some further training in Portugal with Nuno, Atila was transferred to Germany and has became a vital part of Margit Dellian’s equi-com® team. Instead of fighting bulls, he now works with German business leaders, helping them to become better bosses. With his golden fur, the compact, muscular body and characterful head he looks very impressive and makes a lasting impression on the seminar participants. At the same time he is gentle, sensitive and kind to his two-legged training partners. That makes him even as stallion suitable for this innovative form of leadership development.
Just Iberian horses fascinate people like no other breed . They are the epitome of nobility , elegance and beauty.
It is not without reason that these horses were the first choice for kings, generals and nobles in ancient times .
Image : Dellian consulting /
Christiane Slawik reproduced free of
Margit please tell me why are Iberian horses your first choice for working with top managers?
Margit Dellian: Even in ancient times , the noble horses from Portugal and Spain were considered as the first choice for the former “manager”, ie for Kings, Generals and Emperors. One can still see this through many of equestrian monuments today. I find them to be fine partners to work with as today they continue offer my course participants the same qualities they gave in the past.
So what do you think are the qualities that make these horses so popular?
MD: Horses are always a great way to show leadership behaviour and to give the training partner an honest reflection of his body language, his appearance and his authenticity. Especially in the millennia breed of Iberian horses the attention was less on the large-framed movements – such as today in the sport horse breeding – but on characteristics such as character, human-relatedness, courage, intelligence and sensitivity, which are important for the cooperation between man and horse – otherwise many generals and bullfighters would not have not survived.
These qualities, which are often referred to as the “pious fire,” make these impressive animals to perfect training partners. In addition to two geldings and three mares, we work with three stallions of pure Iberian breed – which is unique in Germany – and we have thus far had only positive experiences.
Eye of a Lusitano
Eye of a Lusitano
stallion Vasco da Gama ( original name Studbook Veterano ) :
Teresa : How did you come up with the idea of organising leadership seminars with horses?
MD: In August 2009, on the road between my office in Heilbronn and my office in Frankfurt the idea flashed before me: to train managers with horses! I came from a family business which is now run by my brother and I’ve worked self employed for over 20 years for mostly privately owned companies. I was almost obsessed with the idea to find a practical way to teach the mostly technically excellent Chiefs these simple but hard to mentally understand “soft skills”, like respect, trust, mindfulness, motivation, appreciation or presence – the true keys to successful leadership.
I had at that time already three horses -Two Iberian stallions and one Andalusian gelding. In sort of self-experimentation I have had some enlightening
experiences. When I showed up to see my four-legged partners after a stressful day at work distracted, stressed, tense and with my mind on the last meeting. I was not really present for my horses, they could not take me and my unclear instructions seriously. Threats, pressure, carrots and sticks also did not bring me any success. Surprisingly a calm, specific, clear appearance, a concrete and understandable objective with recognition in the form of praise and petting – without incentives, such as carrots , made these 600 kg muscle packages – including two self-confident stallions happy to participate and easy to handle. For an impulsive and quite dominant person like me, it took awhile for me to come to the realisation that my Iberian partners are a reflection of my own personality, my own leadership behaviour. At first it was uncomfortable to accept – it’s so much easier to project a bad result on one’s opponent! But the innocent, non-judgmental nature of horses leads us to self-reflection and only the honest confrontation with our own personality brings true personal understanding.