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The 3 Positions of Leadership

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Jim is feeling rightfully proud today after experientially sharing this model to a student.

The 3 Positions of Leadership is a EAHAE model based on the work of Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling. It describes the 3 natural leadership positions horses employ when leading within the herd. It is useful to know to build a better relationship with horses and is relevant for human to human interactions, such as within families and the workplace.

Position 1 leads from the front and is all about pace, destination and direction. This position utilises the horses natural tendancy to follow anything that is leading/leaving. In the human world, you'll know those that lead from position 1 as the visionaries - Steve Jobs and Elon Musk are two such examples. We are captivated by their ideas and drawn in by their vision. We also tend to follow those that flee. This position has a "follow me!" energy.

Position 2 is the heart of the herd. Influence here is more subtle, collaborative and heart-centred. It's where all horses go to rest and rejuvenate, to restore energy and be taken care of by the rest of herd. Think of it as the office party, where hierachy doesn't matter, everyone is equal and the objective is to bond, celebrate and be as one unit. This position has a "together" energy and is very nourishing.

Finally, position 3. This, in a herd of horses, will predominantly be taken by the stallion in the herd. If the herd isn't following position 1's lead, the position 3 provides a driving force that pushes the herd forwards. In times of danger, the stallion, as the strongest horse, will be the last in the herd and will hang back to put himself between the herd and danger. In some cases the stallion will fight the danger to buy the herd more time. This position is about the health, harmony and unity of the herd and has a "push" energy. It's assertive, provides essential back up to position 1 and in partnership with the other positions, builds confidence, security and trust. In humans, this is the accountability and checks and balances role. This tends to be people like the legal or accounts teams, or the team secretary/personal executive. This has a "have your back" feel to it.

Knowing and understanding the 3 Positions of Leadership gives people a choice on how they would like to lead at any given time. In our lives, it is required we do all 3, sometimes using one more than the other, but always there remains the need to be adaptive and lead ourselves and others in all 3 ways.

Today Jim, a strong position 3 leader, showed his student he too is capable of being strong and assertive. This is powerful and memorable learning, particularly when confidence has been lost and low self-esteem has set in. The ability to influence a 500kg animal is no mean feat, that can only be done by skill.

With the return of our corporate training programs, we're excited to be sharing this content again. It is a core part of our Leadership & Wellbeing program for groups looking to expand their performance and understand how leadership impacts their business and performance.

Horses can help create a profound shift in our view of ourselves and the world around us

It feels needed now more than ever following on from the pandemic and with leadership so much in the news. I know the impact will be tremendous.

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