Development: Â A Dialogue
The key to development is perceived by too many people to be copying what has been done in developed nations. It is my belief that this is the reason why all kinds of development projects have failed. In particular, a great number of European countries have approached the issues in the developing world with the idea that what has been good for Europe will be good for the rest of the world. That is of course not true, but a very persistent conviction with many.
If we recognise that as the case then what that means for the development of equestrian sport, is that each country and National Federation should analyze its needs and opportunities in line with its own unique equestrian and cultural heritage. And develop those points where success is most probable.
If there is a small nucleus of enthusiasts in a particular discipline, grab the opportunity those people offer. Donâ€™t start a program in another discipline before bringing the nucleus to the next stage. Success breeds success.
If there is a natural affiliation between two countries (e.g. neighbouring countries, economical ties, historical relations etc.), use those ties to stimulate both sides to work on development.
Small countries or small NFs also need different structural solutions to bigger federations in order to create the environment for long term development. â€˜One size fits allâ€™ does not apply, and it is time that these different solutions were formulated and executed.
These were central themes of my FEI candidacy and issues I feel quite strongly about to this day.
The General Management of People: Â Delegation and Empowerment
The essence of good management I learned (sometimes the hard way) is to first find good people, and then grant them the freedom to carry out their job most effectively. This means accepting that they might do their job in a different way than you would have. Trying to be a perfectionist will not help you. You will never be able to manage more than you can handle in a single day yourself. You must give room to people having their own way of doing things.
If you want to manage something bigger, you have no choice but to delegate, and that means reaching an agreement with your employees on where you want to be in a few yearsâ€™ time. You choose a point on the horizon and apply your mind to what you have to do to reach it. Usually thereâ€™s more than one way to get there. But the question of which route to take is exactly the kind of decision you have to leave to the people with whom you have entrusted â€˜deliveryâ€™ tasks.
Iâ€™m personally convinced that people gain more pleasure in their work when they are encouraged to think and talk about the shared objective and they get less value if thereâ€™s nothing left for them to chew on. If they do not perform well repeatedly or they abuse their freedom, you have to replace them. If they make mistakes, they should get the chance to repair them. Everyone makes mistakes, and although I hate mistakes, people cannot be terrified of making errors and taking certain risks. In this case, everything stops. Of course they should not make the same mistake twice.
When you empower people, they should know they are held responsible and accountable. Freedom to act should go hand in hand with transparency. Too often people want to have freedom without others being able to see what they do with this freedom to act. A large organisation cannot afford to do see. Freedom and accountability go hand in hand.