The Asking Leader News

Mustering School for Business Leaders That’s not going to work!

I have often wondered how I could bring value from my rural heritage to the urban business leaders that are my TEC group members.

Then I met Chook and Jen Kealy. Together, we came up with the idea to use a Low Stress Stock Handling School as an analogy for communication in business. 

Those that know Chook will remember him as an outstanding communicator. His specialty is teaching people to communicate with a mob a animals that think we are going to eat them. We are the predator and they are the prey.

Already we were beginning to understand the analogy with the businesses that we lead. 

Chook explained the four rules and seven principles of Low Stress Livestock Handling. As he was explaining the rules and principles, the ideas of how we could communicate with our staff, our senior leadership teams, boards, stakeholders and customers quickly became clear. Each rule had a parallel in the lives of our business leaders.

He said simple things like:

  • ‘each mob has natural leaders and natural tails. If you give them the space, they will show you who they are’.
  • ‘You can’t move a mob backwards through a gate. They will move the way they are facing. You have to turn them before you can move them’.
  • ‘How is your body language? Is it a dribbling tap, a flowing hose or a fire hydrant? When do you apply the pressure, and when should you release it?
  • ‘Be careful of your thoughts. They become your attitude. Soon enough your attitude becomes your behaviours.
  • ‘First, you have to build their trust. Then they can accept change.’
  • ‘Be careful not to confuse activity with achievement.’
  • ‘If you put them under too much pressure, you will trigger the ‘flight’ response.’


The physical and mental challenge was to move small mobs around a reasonably large paddock on foot on a warm day. They moved small mobs in figures of eight, split them and even put a mob of five through a 1 metre gate without any fences as a guide. It was the stuff of professionals!

The group of business leaders were all moved by the experience. One said she ‘would remember the experience for life’. The learning about each other, themselves and how they present to their mob were both fascinating and insightful.

At the end of the long day in the sun, we retired to our resort in the Hunter Valley for a big dinner and a bottle of the local grape juice. 

We ate steak.

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