Skip to content

More leadership lessons from horse trainers

Browse this blog post

Almost a year ago I blogged about finding leadership inspiration from the horse trainer, Willie Mullins. When one of his star performers, Paul Townsend, messed up by riding dangerously and lost a race he should have won, Mullins did not lose faith in his jockey. Far from it. Townsend was back in the saddle riding, and winning, crucial races shortly thereafter. What impressed me was that Mullins showed great loyalty to his team while demonstrating resilience of character. He favours a culture where mistakes are part of the learning experience and where his team feel more comfortable performing (and flourishing) in the spotlight.

I have been watching with interest to see if Willie Mullins’ strategy pays off in the long run.

A year down the line, I am even more convinced that a blame culture will rarely produce high performing teams, and that the greatest lessons come from failure, not success. And as for Willie Mullins, well he recently had his first Cheltenham Gold Cup victory, having previously finished second on six occasions. The jockey was none other than Paul Townsend, riding the same horse, Al Boum Photo. He is also well on course to retain the trainers’ championship in Ireland.

As someone just about to take up a leadership role, I do so in the knowledge that everyone performs better when given the support, trust and space to grow and learn from both successes and failures.