The Surprising Truth About Commanding Respect and Influencing Others


Presence is an important competency for executives to master as they need it to command respect in order to influence others. When your team trusts that you are leading them towards their wellbeing you get engagement and collaboration.

Before I tell you about my latest adventure, meet my two traveling companions.

Lynda Constant is my friend and expert in Equine Facilitated Wellbeing. This is Lynda on the left and me on the right.

Lynda Constant
and Corry Robertson PCC

My other companion is Merlin “As If By Magic”.

Merlin “As If By Magic”

I adopted Merlin only a few months ago and until today the only person to train with him is my 14-year-old son Liam, who is Merlin’s Eventing partner. Today, Merlin and I became Liberty Horsemanship partners.

This new blog series entitled “The Whispering Leader” is about the similarities between:

  • horsemanship and leadership
  • the heart of the horse and the heart of the human
  • the herd world and the corporate world
  • and ultimately, what horses have to teach us about doing a better job at being human.

Horse and Human

Horses are majestic and powerful, yet they are also gentle and peaceful. They are mighty and fast yet vulnerable, fragile prey animals.

The contradiction between ‘power & peace’ and ‘strong & vulnerable’ makes horses wonderful teachers because the human experience includes this paradox too.

As prey animals, the horse’s lack of fangs and claws is compensated by the speed and power to run away.

While humans are predators and horses are prey, we have similar emotional systems but that of the horse much more powerful than ours.

First lesson: Hop on and giddy up

Actually, no. First, we worked on presence.

Working with a horse is like working with a person so, first things first,  you need to establish a relationship. Getting this right early on will govern how well Merlin and I bond as a team.

My goal was not to ride Merlin but to walk beside him. Before going into the paddock to get him, Lynda guided me through an exercise to become aware of my presence. Foundational to both horsemanship and leadership is presence and this can only be achieved by first becoming self-aware.

Presence is an important competency for executives to master as they need it to command respect in order to influence others.

Q.What part of myself do I need to be aware of to have the most impact?

A. Your emotions.

Q. Why?

A. Cause and effect: your emotions will impact your behaviour and people will respond to you accordingly.  Do you lead to danger or safety? In the herd world, this means actual life or death. In the corporate world, it means wellbeing or stress.

No trust, no results.

When your team trusts that you are leading them towards their wellbeing you get engagement and collaboration.

The ultimate outcome of self-awareness is to cultivate the presence of trustworthiness.

In the paddock, whatever my emotions are, Merlin will sense it and react to it honestly. This is because horses don’t deceive as humans do. They just give us back exactly what we are giving to them.

If I were to barge into the paddock and march towards Merlin with the determined energy of an aggressive executive, Merlin would just run away. My energy would tell him “I am a predator and you are in danger.”

Imagine me running around the paddock trying to catch Merlin if he felt like I was dangerous.  I would look ridiculous, you would laugh at me and certainly not respect me.

What about the leader trying to get results from his team?

Your team members will sense aggression, but they can’t be honest like Merlin. Instead, the human way of refusing to be caught is to carefully construct a reaction based on what he thinks will save his skin.  Work the politics, tell you what you want to hear and do the absolute minimum to avoid being noticed again.

You may feel respected in the short term but the actual result is this: no one will want to report to you so you will have trouble attracting people to your team, the people you do have will not be engaged and will leave you the first chance they get.

Harness your real power

…and as if by magic, a foundational stone for your capacity to be an effective leader will have been laid.

My takeaways from lesson #1:

  • Emotional Self Awareness for Self Control
  • Leadership Presence
  • No Trust, No Relationship
  • No Relationship, No Results

Lynda and I offer an Executive Coaching Retreat where you can improve your leadership ability through horsemanship. If you would like to explore the possibilities, book a strategy call here: www.TalkWithCorry.Com

Bonus clip of Liam Robertson Evans riding As If By Magic at a recent cross country schooling.


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