Intuitive Leadership – How to lead from the inside out

Inspired by an article I read in the women’s magazine More called “How to command a room” in March 2014, I decided to write about this topic from a slightly different angle. Don’t get me wrong, everything I read in this article speaks to me and I agree with most of it. Nevertheless, I want to raise your awareness towards your inner self when it comes to leadership. There are so many leadership books, training guides and articles on how to present yourself in front of an audience or how to become a successful leader. As a leadership coach, I know a lot about this topic and have gone through various certification trainings myself, not to forget mentioning my personal experience of being in a leadership position for many years in the corporate world.

Is it the wisdom of my age or is it my urge to simplify life that I look at leadership from a different angle now?

Here is my question for you: Do you think there are valuable communication tools you can learn to become a great leader?

If you answered yes, you probably went through intense management and leadership training yourself and feel that it made you stronger. I don’t want to disagree with that, but nevertheless I tend to answer the question with a clear “No.” You can take as many leadership courses as you like, read as many books on leadership as you wish, it will not change who you are unless you feel leadership in your bones. Not many trainings that take place in the safe environment of a conference room will achieve a change in your leadership skills. Yes, you will learn a few tools, tricks and triggers to impress or even motivate your coworkers or bosses, but as long as you don’t feel in your body that you are leading, nothing has really changed.

I am fully aware that by making this statement I am arguing against a whole industry and an army of leadership trainers and coaches, but I insist: leading from the inside out – intuitive leadership – is the only authentic and real leadership. What makes me believe this? First of all, I believe that leading is not a matter of finding the right words to become heard. Instead I believe that mainly through non-verbal communication we will be heard and acknowledged. Whatever words you choose, if your body does not confirm the message, you will not be authentic – and certainly not leading.

Here is an example: When you say, “Follow me, I know the way out of a crisis,” but your body tells me that you are not sure, I will not follow you and neither will others. A body revealing fear or doubt by shrugging shoulders, lowering your eyes to the ground or by nervously stamping your feet tells the true story. There are no words in this world that are stronger or more convincing than a body in doubt. Non-verbal communication is efficient communication and plays a much bigger role in interpersonal relationships than verbal communication. There are many examples of words not matching the body language. It happens every day in business, in politics and even in our daily encounters with others. The body does not lie to us, but words often do.


You may ask where I get this wisdom from, and I could answer by naming some of the teachers I have met over the years. The most efficient teachers that prove to me every day that I can only lead by intuition are my horses. They sense when I am in balance and when I am off balance. They follow me everywhere so long as they sense my leadership – intuitive leadership – and they refuse to follower if I transmit a sense of fear, doubt or any kind of distress. There is no way I can talk myself out of a problem. Horses mirror our inner self and when they sense doubt, they act accordingly. Fight, flight or appease are the natural ways of horses to deal with any kind of stress or danger. If you want to be the leader of the horses like the mare in the herd, you must prove that you are leading from within. As long as you are in tune with your body and feel your leadership role, horses will trust you. And isn’t trust the key word when it comes to following the leader?

Would you follow a leader you cannot trust? Would you follow someone who spreads doubt or fear through his or her body language? Of course not! We all sense – just like horses – whom we can trust and whom we are willing to follow. It has nothing to do with how highly trained someone is, how well the person speaks and argues or how loud his or her voice is. We follow leaders we trust and who make us feel protected and safe.

How can you learn to lead from within? Many paths lead to Rome, but as a passionate horsewoman and Certified Equine Guided Educator, I strongly recommend working with horses. It can be group training or a one on one horse coaching session. My team of four legged coaches and I will help you to understand what leading from within feels like. I offer leadership training sessions at my ranch near Paso Robles, CA and Lake Nacimiento. My coaching with horses sessions do not involve any horse riding, just ground work. You will be surprised how efficient this work is and how efficiently you can grow as a leader within a very short period of time. I work with one or several of my horses achieving results faster than traditional approaches that can typically take weeks, months or even years.

Be a woman and act like one.

For more information about my work and courses, please visit my website,

About Hertha Wolff-Arend

I am a business coach and writer located in Paso Robles, California. I am the author of the book Be a woman and act like one. Succeeding in business and life’’ and I write a blog for women with the same title. I give motivational speeches and offer leadership and personality trainings to women. I also work with business owners and managers to support them in their leadership skills and personal development. As a strategic consultant, I also help companies with their communication and marketing strategy. Born and raised in Germany, I spent most of my adult life in Europe. I have a German university degree in languages and economics and I worked for many years in the advertising industry as one of the few female managing directors in Germany for major international advertising agencies such as Young&Rubicam, TBWA and Bates. My client list consisted of mainly blue chip clients, where I was responsible for their communications strategies and the development and execution of the advertising concepts. Just to name a few clients: Lufthansa, Danone, Kraft Foods, Bosch, Singapore Airlines, Ericsson, Campbells etc. In 2004 I relocated with my husband and son to California. I graduated from New Venture West in San Francisco as a Certified Integral Coach and started my own coaching practice in 2007. I am fluent in German and English and have conversational skills in Spanish. Aside from my dedication to work and family, I am a passionate dressage rider. I am devoted to supporting women in business, with a focus on women in the lower and middle management who are aiming at a career in the higher ranks or who want to develop their own business.
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