Most humans in western society will connect leadership with dominance. It is the strong, ambitious ones, working their way up the ranks to stay there, who have what it takes to be a true leader… right?
Not in a herd of horses. Not in most animal communities, actually. Horses have found a way to differentiate dominance from leadership, along with establishing three main groups over the last millions of years. Horses recognize that the best leader is not the most dominant, but the one who cares most for the herd.
Everyone contributes something in a herd of horses. There is a lead mare and stallion who concern themselves with the welfare of the herd, the dominant horses, constantly challenge the rest, keep the community alert and on their toes, and even the submissive horses give the herd safety in numbers. But it isn’t dominance-free. You may or may not know that there are bachelor herds in the horse world: a herd made up of single stallions looking for some mares.
Although the lead mare’s main focus is leading the herd, the stallion’s job of keeping bachelors away requires dominance. He protects the herd, moves them if they don’t follow the lead mare with pep in their step and so on. So there is dominance involved, but that is not the focus of the lead mare.
It is not this way with humans. Sure, everyone has their place – but how is that established? We, perhaps subconsciously, judge a person’s ranking the moment we meet them. The cues we get are activated by sight, sound, smell, and emotional or energetic cues. How does this person carry themselves? Do they have a steady gaze? Does their voice shake or is their speech calm?
Our energy, physical health, cleanliness, and body language all play a role in determining where we stand in the broad scheme of things. But it goes further, and we can easily see a pattern.
Humans link leadership with dominance. Is this truly sustainable? Our first priority should be cooperation. I mean this in the relationship between a country and its‘ leader, as well as a human and their relationship with their horse or other animal.
It is a life-long journey to work on separating dominance from leadership in our relationships. Humans want control. We want to dominant everything if we are a leader. As a true leader, and friend, we will do what’s best for our herd, even if that’s not what we had initially hoped or had planned for.
Are you a dominant leader? How can you consciously focus on shifting your approach? It’s delicious food for thought…