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5 Lessons From Horses on Leadership Development
Horses look for presence in the moment and clarity about where you are going and how. They create an especially valuable mirror to humans-masterful as we are about thinking one way and feeling or behaving another. You can't lead a horse if you're not fully present or unclear about where you are going. You may be able to fool yourself, but you can't fool a horse.
Horse-guided coaching is experiential learning in which people see their energy and behavior reflected by horses, gain clarity about their leadership presence, style and effectiveness with others. Through horse-human exercises on the ground, participants discover new information about themselves and practice new and subtle shifts in the way they lead. No riding is involved.
So what can we learn from horses about using our leadership presence?
1. The lead horse is not the most dominant, but the horse that can assure the well-being of the herd. Horses demonstrate servant leadership. Lead stallions and mares assert their leadership clearly and watch for signs that the others understand they are the leader. Once respect for the lead horse as primary resource for safety and guidance is established, other resources, such as access to food and water, are not controlled by the leader but are turned back to the herd to use as needed. Leaders benefit from understanding the difference between dominance and servant leadership as they steer their companies and manage their employees.
5. Horses run a tight herd. If a colt misbehaves, he is in real trouble because the lead mare will send him outside of the herd where he's in danger. He knows it and knows he's got to show willingness to work with the group. Only then will he be let back in. Leaders learn how to set boundaries and give clear direction with a horse-and with the staff back at the office.
Equine Coaching: Leadership Through Vulnerability
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.