What do horse training and leadership have in common?

Where you stand in relation to the horse is a different way to guide it. Where a leader "stands" depends on their leadership style.

This is where Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling comes in. He was a horse trainer who applied what he learned from horses to 3 types of leadership.

Flaticon Icon

Leadership plays a crucial role in various aspects of life, including professional environments, community organizations, and even personal relationships.

Find out which type of leader you are!

A cowgirl on a horse. The horse pulls a rope behind it.

Overview: Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling's Leadership Styles

Hempfling, an expert in horse training and human leadership, identified 3 archetypes of leadership that differentiate between different styles of leaders:

Flaticon Icon

  • Leading from the front The leader gives direction for their team. This leader can also be called a dominant leader.

  • Leading from the side — The leader uses a democratic leadership style to make sure everyone moves in the same direction together. Another phrase would be the nurturing leader.

  • Leading from behind — The leader drives the team forward to maintain momentum. This leader is a passive leader.

Leading From the Front: Pros and Cons

Fonzie from Happy Days asking his audience to listen up and follow his lead.

The dominant leader takes charge, sets clear boundaries, and ensures compliance. They provide structure and direction.

Flaticon Icon

This can prove both challenging and rewarding.

Flaticon Icon


  • Dominant leaders are necessary for a team's vision and clarity of direction. The team gets diverted and disperses if this is missing. 

  • It prevents conflict in the team and an increased workload and the team won't become ineffective.

Flaticon Icon


  • If these leaders are too far ahead, they might lose the team.

  • These leaders can also move too fast for their teams, which might result in burnout and work-related stress.

Leading from the Side: Pros and Cons

A group of young people who emphasize their working together as a team rather than alone.

Hempfling's nurturing leader is very different — they focus on building relationships, supporting growth, and foster a harmonious environment. They value empathy and collaboration.

Flaticon Icon

While this leadership style is no doubt quite positive, it can also come with downsides.

Flaticon Icon


  • This style makes sure every team member stays on track and is aligned with the vision and goals.

  • Leading from the side also helps a team to develop their skills and understand what is required of them.

Flaticon Icon


  • The overall vision might be less clear if there is too much focus on being democratic.

  • This might result in a lot of time-wasting for setting goals collaboratively and keeping everyone aligned.

Leading from Behind: Pros and Cons

A woman in an office points and says,

The passive leader, on the other hand, tends to avoid taking direct responsibility and leaves decision-making to others.

Flaticon Icon

This style often leads to a lack of direction and confusion but it works well for team members who can work independently.

Flaticon Icon


  • The leader can see everything that is happening in the team. 

  • They can steer the team if needed but the team can choose their own way.

  • The direction everyone's heading to is clear and team members must be willing to fulfill their commitments.

Flaticon Icon


  • This style can feel exhausting if the direction and pace aren't already clear.

  • Weak leaders might hide behind individual team members and not communicate unpopular decisions.


Darren likes to lead from the front, but his team is highly motivated & independent so they can't cope with his micromanaging style. Tick the style(s) Darren should adopt to lead this team:

An Alternative Approach

For a more fun approach, also consider this classification: the captain, the orchestra conductor, and the soccer coach.

Flaticon Icon

The top-level leader is like the captain of a ship. Just like a captain, they have a broad view of the overall direction and make critical decisions.

Flaticon Icon

The middle-level leader is like an orchestra conductor. They coordinate and bring together different sections of the organization, ensuring harmony and synchronization.

Flaticon Icon

The front-line leader is akin to a soccer coach. They are directly involved with the team members and provide guidance, support, and motivation to achieve individual and team goals.

Take Action

A toddler leading a group of roosters through a field.

Remember, leadership isn't limited to one fixed style but rather a dynamic concept that requires flexibility and adaptability.

By understanding the leadership styles proposed by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, you can easily adapt todifferent leadership stylesand thus havea positive work environment.

Flaticon Icon

Follow these simple steps to become the best leader that you can be:

A woman in a conference room. On a screen, the text reads,


Your feedback matters to us.

This Byte helped me better understand the topic.

Get support to take action on this Byte