Loosening the Reins

There’s an old horse riding saying that goes something like this: Loosen the reins to gain control. I‘ve often used this as an

analogy for team leadership.

I spent last week on horse camp with my son’s school. We were lucky enough to be led by incredible horse woman, Anne, and Tom, a classic dessert station horseman, with decades of experience training, wrangling and rodeoing (and enough “war” stories to curl your toes).

Tom taught me that I had the whole “loosen the reins” idea back to front.

I’d always thought the saying related to gentleness and being softer in my approach. People pleasing, in other words, which of course means a values conflict when we need to performance manage or dismiss staff. Kim Scott would call this “ruinous empathy”.

Tom said horses want only two things: consistency and release. Consistency in the directions or instructions we give them. And release of our pressure on the bit (via the reins) when they’ve got it right.

Sounds something like what our staff appreciate from us, doesn’t it? Consistency in direction and instructions, and release of pressure when they’re doing things right.
Tom doesn’t mean we let go of control though. He taught me how to have a firmer hold of the reins and still be able to release pressure. He taught me to direct a horse with a simple wriggle of my fingers on the reins, instead of yanking and kicking. He also taught me how to stop a runaway horse literally one-handed.

I’m likely to roll these concepts around for some time yet, but the idea of consistency and release fits so well with what Kim Scott calls “radical candour”, and it makes so much more sense to me now as an analogy for leadership, than simply “loosen the reins”.
A herd of horses is made up of individual horses each with its own back story, personality, likes and dislikes. Some members of the herd are great mates, others hate each other. Some will be the right fit for our journey, others won’t.

Just like members of your team.

We need to understand these nuances, retain firm control, and know WHEN to release pressure to make it all fly.
And as with most things, consistency is key.

Much love,
Tess

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Dr Tess Crawley

Tess is an Australian clinical and forensic psychologist with over 20 years' experience in such diverse areas as community mental health, the prison system, perinatal mental health, university lecturing, and private practice.

Tess has a PhD in clinical psychology, has published one business-related book and is in the midst of writing a second. She is also a former actor, which some say explains a lot! In fact, she met her husband of 30+ years while they were involved in a Melbourne stage production of Macbeth (also explains a lot!).

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Charging Your WorthAre you charging enough for your services?

I'm still amazed every time I speak with a professional who is undercharging for their services. And the reality is, if I accused them of undercutting their professional colleagues, they'd be mortified. Because that's not their intention at all! Usually they are coming from the best of heart-centred places - wanting to help people. But then when I dig a little there will also be some unhealthy money attitudes that come to the surface.

Not feeling worth as much as their colleagues. Or feeling that charging more would be "greedy". Or fearing that charging a sustainable fee would kill their referrals. I've worked with enough business clients now to know that these well-meaning approaches to fees usually underpin financial stress, overwork, and burnout.

By charging appropriately, we help MORE people in the long run because our business is more likely to be sustainable.

By charging appropriately we support our profession as a whole to earn a decent income, remain solvent, and ultimately draw more people to enter into the profession.

Again, more people helped!

So the next time you're feeling lacking in confidence to charge an appropriate fee, imagine how many people are helped when our businesses remain viable.

Think of how many people are helped when more people are drawn to work in our professions.

And then think about how you'd feel if you were accused of undercutting your colleagues. Not your intention, but it has the same effect.

Think about it.

 

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Dr Tess Crawley

Tess is an Australian clinical and forensic psychologist with over 20 years' experience in such diverse areas as community mental health, the prison system, perinatal mental health, university lecturing, and private practice.

Tess has a PhD in clinical psychology, has published one business-related book and is in the midst of writing a second. She is also a former actor, which some say explains a lot! In fact, she met her husband of 30+ years while they were involved in a Melbourne stage production of Macbeth (also explains a lot!).

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Starting a Business

When you are thinking about starting a business, the choices can be overwhelming.

Do I go it alone or bring in a partner?

Should I start as a company or a sole trader?

You’re so scared to get it wrong that you hesitate starting. You’re so worried about making the wrong choice that you do nothing. Or you lie awake at night losing sleep over what might happen in the future. Stop it!

There is no set structure to how a business startup looks.

Sole trader. Solopreneur. Small group business. Partnership. Co-operative. World-dominating conglomerate

The choice is yours.  And that feels overwhelming, I know. But the good news is what you choose today doesn’t have to be your choice forever. Go with what feels right for you right now.

Ask yourself this ... How do I feel about the idea of managing other people? This is one simple way of choosing your starting point.

Here’s another question ... What can I delegate? Get the stuff you hate off your plate so you can focus on the bits you love. This will help you maintain your energy, avoid burnout, and let you focus on the right kind of growth.

You can start your business in one guise and grow into another. You can start as a sole trader and then become a company (that’s what I did). You can do everything yourself or you can hire team. Or you can start with team and then decide to go it alone.

No one is going to take your first born child if you change your mind!

This is my point about business growth ... Growth is not just about how big your business gets, it’s also how you grow as a business owner. How you learn what works best for you.

It takes time to grow into your business ownership role. It takes time to learn what works for you and what doesn’t.

It takes time to try things out, make mistakes, learn from those, incorporate that learning, and try something else.

Above all, there is no one-size-fits-all perfect model of business. It doesn’t exist. So stop looking for it and get out there and just try.

Much love,

Tess x

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Dr Tess Crawley

Tess is an Australian clinical and forensic psychologist with over 20 years' experience in such diverse areas as community mental health, the prison system, perinatal mental health, university lecturing, and private practice.

Tess has a PhD in clinical psychology, has published one business-related book and is in the midst of writing a second. She is also a former actor, which some say explains a lot! In fact, she met her husband of 30+ years while they were involved in a Melbourne stage production of Macbeth (also explains a lot!).

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