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  • Writer's pictureMaria

Lead from Behind?

Updated: Mar 5

We’ve all heard sayings such as ‘lead by example’ and ‘a good leader shows the way’, but what about leading from behind?

With horses, their power is in their hind end. If you watch a racehorse, they generate power by pushing from their back legs while their front legs are catching them. Like many four-legged animals, they are rear-wheel-drive machines. There is a reason that farmers herd their sheep from behind, because trying to get them to move by standing in front of them would be wildly unsuccessful.

What does this have to do with communication and leadership? When I work with the horses in the round pen, I lead from behind. This is how they lead each other in the wild. I put pressure on their back end to cause forward motion. I don’t drag them around the arena by their heads. Standing in front of them leaves them nowhere to go but back, but by remaining near their back, you give them all of the space and opportunity required to allow them to proceed forward.


As humans, we’re a little too used to dragging people around rather than encouraging and leading from behind. Plant an idea and give people space to see what they do with it. Don’t micromanage. Leading from behind also allows for some individuality, the freedom to choose their own path and be creative with the process. If you give the general idea of a desired outcome and encourage them from behind, you might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

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