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  • Writer's pictureGinny Telego

Confronting Our Beliefs About Power

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Power. Just the word can evoke a variety of responses from people.  To some, the word is a positive representation of being able to rise above adversity and achieve goals – as in being empowered.  To others, the word is a negative representation of how people control others through fear.  The word itself is neither positive or negative.  What makes it take on one of those labels is the intention behind someone’s use of their skills, knowledge, position, etc…. with others.

As someone who has worked with horses for 40 years, I have experienced power in both a positive and negative context.  People who feel like they don’t have power tend to be drawn to horses because horses represent a sense of strength to them. But horses are prey animals and as such, predatory leadership is often used to get these 1200 lb animals to do what a person wants them to do.  It’s an amazing feeling to be able to direct a half-ton animal to do something.  In fact, it can be downright addicting.  And that’s where power can take hold and turn negative.

For many years, I used predatory leadership in working with horses. It’s what I was taught and what I knew. It wasn’t abusive per se, but it was very dominance based. The communication to the horse was always this: “You are going to do what I want or else you are going to experience something very negative (and uncomfortable either physically or mentally).”  When I went to work in the corporate world, I saw how this same “management technique” was used with people.  People who were in positions of power got what they wanted through intimidation or creating uncomfortable environments for those who were not in positions of power.  It was during that time that I began to learn more about how horses think, herd behavior and why horses respond the way they do to each other and to people.  And I saw a different path for leadership.

My colleagues and I in the field of equine experiential learning are passionate about helping leaders at all levels see ethical use of power as a way to make their organizations thrive.

How do you perceive and use power? Is it about creating fear to get your team to execute strategy or do you create respect through collaboration and inclusion?


Ginny Telego is the President of The Collaboration Partners, a consulting firm that is dedicated to helping leaders and teams develop the skills necessary to adapt to change in the ever uncertain environment that challenges organizations across the globe.  Find out more about how she can help your organization align its human capital with strategy at

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