Leadership Styles: Mules and Horses

leadership stylesThere are many different leadership styles. Which one is best depends on the group you are leading.

Wymond Eckhardt was a long-time friend and National Park Ranger who spent months in the wilderness with his mule, “Molly.” (It is common to refer to all female mules as “mollies.”) Wymond was an expert in mules and their behavior. For many years, he was in charge of housing them for the annual Mule Day Parade in Bishop, California. Here are a few differences between a mule and a thoroughbred horse.

You get on a horse, and he’ll step into a hole. A mule will  go around it.  If a mule comes to a bridge with a hole in it, the mule won’t even cross the bridge.

What many take for stubbornness in a mule is really enlightened self-interest. A mule won’t go where it perceives a hazard; a horse will blunder into danger. A mule will pace itself so that it can labor all day; a horse will run until it drops.

A mule is more plotting, more deliberate than a thoroughbred. The thoroughbred is more nervous, more sensitive than a mule.

A mule wouldn’t do well in the Kentucky Derby. A thoroughbred would be a miserable failure carrying a load, pulling a wagon or plow for any length of time. You use each in the way that it’s best suited for.

Some people are mules; some are thoroughbreds. Wise leaders learn the difference and use this knowledge to help the people they lead make the most of their abilities.

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