In 2018, a team of colleagues from Intuit® stayed at a “dude ranch” with our then-CEO, Brad Smith, as part of a leadership experience. We had the unique opportunity to learn how the power of trust can transform relationships, and bring out the best from those we work and live with, from a horse whisperer named Grant Golliher.
Grant specializes in taking untamed horses he has never met and building trust with them, with the intent to mount and saddle them in less than an hour. These teachings can apply directly to leadership, and our role in accelerating the gifts in ourselves and others. His demonstration had such a profound and enduring effect on me that I invited Grant to share his techniques with our Dallas team twice to experience the same powerful effect.
Grant focuses on four fundamental principles to win the horses’ trust:
- “Be slow to take and quick to give.”
- “Honor the slightest try and the smallest change.”
- “Make the wrong thing difficult and the right thing easy.”
- “Be as soft as you can and as firm as you need to.”
With these principles, he earns their trust by respecting their choices, and provides disciplined love and rewards to enable them to make the right choices rather than “breaking” the horse.
He progresses the horse from a place of fear and unexpected behavior to one where the horse begins to follow his lead. As Grant bends down to his knees, the horse lowers its head and begins to breathe in the same space as Grant.
He shows tremendous patience in making it as easy as possible for the horse to do the right thing, using only as much firmness as necessary to help the horse know his expectations, and he encourages every move in the right direction. This enables Grant to take an untamed horse and create a trusted bond in only 60 minutes. It is incredible to witness.
The lessons that surface in his teachings apply to how we engage with all the people in our lives, family, friends and work teams. They are, in fact, leadership principles focused on building trust, and a powerful reminder of how to unleash the greatness that exists in those we are fortunate enough to lead.