That's my daughter Ivey at a recent event - she's jumping like a champ... and giving a great picture of leadership. I don't ride horses, but from what I understand from Ivey there is definitely a right way to jump and a wrong way. The Right Way - As rider and horse begin to approach the jump the rider makes sure that they are lined up for the jump. Then the rider makes certain that the horse's stride is right for the obstacle.
As the horse begins its jump, the rider has a firm grip on the horse and is already looking ahead to the next jump. Looking ahead to the next jump gives direction to the horse upon landing. Notice Ivey in the photo - the horse is just taking off and already she is looking ahead for the next obstacle. Once the horse and rider have landed, the rider leads to the next obstacle, lines up the obstacle, sets the stride, and at take off is looking ahead for the next obstacle.
The Wrong Way Ivey had to learn to trust her self and her horse when they took off on a jump. That trust allows her to not focus all of her attention on the landing but to look ahead for the next obstacle. If all of her attention were focused on the landing, the horse upon landing would lack direction. Without a specific desired and communicated direction the horse could veer almost anywhere and would likely slow down. This causes the rider and horse to have to work harder to get back on track and in stride. This is all terrible for a smooth and consistent ride that yields a good score. What does that have to do with leadership?
Leadership is similar in many ways. Think of the event, or project as the jump or obstacle. The event or project doesn't just happen on the due date, there is a lot of planning and work that goes into making it happen - lining up the jump, setting the stride. As a the LEADER you give the team direction. You set the pace and establish the stride. How quickly will this need to happen? When do we speed up? When do we slow down? What are the capabilities of the team? Who can do what?
Then there is the event or project itself. When all the work has gone in and the project or event is ready to go you jump. A LEADER doesn't let go of the reins during the jump. That would be disastrous! Like the rider, you must maintain a firm grip on what is happening.
With trust in the work that has taken place before the "jump" and the team that is launching, a LEADER must look past the landing to visualize what happens next. What is the next obstacle? Where do we go next? How do we best get there? A good LEADER maintains direction and pace for the whole team.
Take a look at the picture again. Is that how you are leading?