Man in the Arena
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the
strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done
better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives
valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there
is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great
enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy
cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high
achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while
daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid
souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
“I can see people who have been exposed to violence from across the room. That’s my
In Brazil, like much of Latin America, horses are often trained by traditional methods
involving force. Training horses in the traditional method involves using an authoritative
and forceful leadership style to “break” the horse.
Translated to the work-world, this style recalls the hierarchical, top-down command and
control leadership style useful in the manufacturing age, but it does little to engender
trust, collaboration, and motivation in today’s age of information.
This approach has been replaced by leadership models that engender trust and help
followers find their motivation, styles like charismatic leadership, situational leadership,
servant leadership and transformational leadership. The market is crowded with
leadership theories, each proclaiming their benefits and respective values.
A good example of transformational leadership – the ability of a leader to inspire
followers – can be seen in Monty’s Join-Up process, where the horse is transformed
from flight animal to trusting partner.
There is research to support how transformational leaders impact followers. According
to authors Bass and Riggio (2006), there are four components to transformational
leadership, what they call the four I’s:
1. Idealized Influence: leaders are seen as a role model, “walking the talk,” and
are admired by others who pay attention to what the leaders do.
2. Inspirational Motivation: leaders inspire and motivate followers. Their sense of
charisma lifts followers to a high performance expectation and to high levels of
3. Individualized Consideration: leaders authentically care about others, focusing
on followers’ needs and feelings.
4. Intellectual Stimulation: leaders challenge followers’ toward higher levels of
performance, expanding their sense of personal capabilities.
Research shows that transformational leaders are anything but “soft”; groups led by
transformational leaders have higher levels of engagement, performance outcomes and
motivation than groups led by other types of leaders (Bass and Riggio, 2006).
The key that transformational leadership holds to increasing motivation is the
combination of positive expectations and personal challenge.
Monty often says, “I don’t want my students to be as good as me, I want them to be
better than I am.”
This exemplifies Monty’s transformational leadership approach, inspiring horses and
humans to strive beyond complacency, to exceed their normal levels of performance
and rise to the occasion because they are encouraged and challenged.