Two recent occurrences – a trip to australia and my husband’s second knee replacement – have turned my thoughts lately from leadership to management

Two recent occurrences – a trip to Australia and my husband’s second knee replacement – have turned my thoughts lately from leadership to management.

I shake my head when I read the endless debates on discussion boards about leadership vs management.  They seem very convoluted and confusing and there always seems to be more questions than answers.   Here at the farm we have always had a pretty clear picture of management and leadership.

I handle most of the leadership responsibilities with the horses:  training, teaching solving behavioural issues etc.   My husband manages the herd’s day-to-day needs.   We don’t see our roles as mutually exclusive and we can easily step in for each other if need be.

I have to confess that I have always considered leadership of the herd to be more important than management.   Good leadership and training provides a safe learning environment for our clients and to me that is a top priority.   While daily care of the horses is obviously also important I am sorry to say that I have always considered it a secondary task.

I was very surprised when we came back from two weeks in Australia to a herd that was very unsettled and a little anxious.  I had left the horses in good hands with my son and some of my staff.  All of them know my horses and have worked with them for some time.  No one had taken care of them on a daily basis though, so I  knew things would be a bit different while we were away.   I expected there would be some minor slip-ups but I didn’t think it would be a big deal.  My horses obviously thought otherwise.

Three days after we returned my husband had knee surgery so I moved into (herd) management full time.  The first thing I noticed in my new position was that I had no time for my own job. It seemed as though there were hundreds of small details to be taken care of every day.    Anyone who uses the phrase “don’t sweat the small stuff” has never worked in management!

I found myself creating routines and systems to make the job more efficient.  In creating these systems I had to take into account the preferences, the needs and the idiosyncrasies of   the individual herd members while considering how to support the herd as a whole.   It was quite challenging balancing efficiency with empathy.

I will be glad to relinquish my position as herd manager as soon as my husband is back on his feet again.  I will go back to my job however with a new understanding and respect for the many skills required in his job.  I have learned that a team depends on top quality management for their emotional (and sometimes physical) well-being.   More importantly I now understand how much I depend on that same  quality management  to support my leadership.

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