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5 Lessons From Horses on Leadership Development
Finding the right words to express the special way that horses help humans to grow their awareness has been a thought provoking process. Equine Facilitated Learning and Coaching (EFLC) includes the horse and the human as partners in providing personal and professional growth experiences for individuals and groups.
Let's reflected on the meaning of each word:
Equine - Horse
Facilitate - to make easier or less difficult, to help forward (an action, a process, etc.), and to assist the progress of (a person).
Learning - the acquisition and development of memories and behaviors, including skills, knowledge, understanding, values, and wisdom. It is the product of experience and the goal of education. Learning ranges from simple forms of learning such as habituation and classical conditioning seen in many animal species, to more complex activities such as play, seen only in relatively intelligent animals.
Equine Facilitated Learning & Coaching programs that can offer this experience will honor the horse for the teachings they provide for the client and offer addition support through a coaching conversation. An experienced trained coach has the conversation and communication skills and tools to help the client have a full understanding of their equine experience and how to apply that experience into their everyday life.
Therapeutic Horseback Riding for Veterans
Jane had just returned from a much needed vacation; a spiritual retreat she called it. She had been working for 9 years in her current position of Director of OD. She was stuck-something needed to give.
Jane was very much looking forward to the 2 day leadership retreat with the horses. She was very supportive of trying new methodologies for self and team discovery. Although she new little of the connection between leadership and horses, she knew from the accuracy of the Personal Leadership Assessment everyone had taken in advance of the workshop that this experience was going to be revealing no matter what happened.
One would never know what was really going on with Jane; no one human that is. She seemed happy and vibrant and full of support for her team. However, Dolly, a 17 year old alfa mare, had Jane's number from the beginning.
This particular exercise required simply leading the horse. Now this is something you would think a leader could do quite easily. They have been directing and guiding people for years. And most leaders assume that those people are doing what they say and following them. Some go so far as to 'inspect what they expect'. After 16 years consulting and coaching leaders, I can easily say most don't.
Throughout the remainder of the workshop, Jane was able to 'be' more completely. Her vulnerability led to a level of trust with her team that enabled them to have similar experiences. Now they have the opportunity and muscle memory to lead their teams through this same vulnerability. Through her session with Dolly, Jane experienced 'real' leadership and shared this with her team.
At the end of the two days, the team summed up what they had learned. One thing was very clear to them...their definition and concept of leadership had changed dramatically. This is the power, and the gift, of equine facilitated coaching.