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Horse Around For The Love Of Authentic Leadership Skills

horses and authentic leadership skills

Authentic Leadership Skills – the Hallmark of Great Effective Leaders

It is February, the month most associated with romantic love. However, I always apply a much broader meaning to love during the month and I believe we humans are receptive to embracing the love of self and humankind during this fine month.

For leaders to be effective, be it in a family, community, small business or international corporation, love and authenticity go hand-in-hand.

I’m suggesting that a bit of horsing around can lead to greater authenticity and greater leadership skills. Here’s why.

Horses Have No Agenda, No Judgment

The expression “horsing around” denotes silly fooling around. It’s how kids pass the time in play. It’s not a game with an objective to win, but simply time spent fooling around having fun.

In a sense, horsing around is playing from the heart. It is an expression of pure joy. It is the absence of motive or judgment. It is playing for the pure love of being alive. Horses live in this state all the time. They have no agenda, no judgment.

Rediscovering Our True Center

 So, now, imagine three concentric circles – one in the middle and two outer circles. In the middle circle are written the words “I AM”. This “I AM” is our true self. It is who we really are. When we were born into this world that I AM was all we could possibly express.

Now, imagine the next circle out from the “I AM”. In that circle is written, “I fear I am.”

In the third circle out is written the words, “I pretend I AM”.

If the inner circle represents our truest nature, the second circle represents a layer that gets built around each individual as they grow. It represents fears, feelings of inferiority, hurt, guilt, etc…

The third circle, the “I pretend I AM’, circle represents our pretend self. It is the face we want the world to see, the self we are acting out. It is a pretense of self-importance, arrogance, demonstrations of supposed power.

We go through our lives building outer layers around the true self. We create a mask with all those uncomfortable feelings as we pretend to be someone other than our true selves. There is a huge cost for doing this to ones’ self and others. This behavior dilutes our authenticity. It breaks down trust and respect and ultimately contributes to the creation of toxic environments.

Horses Respond To The Human’s Authentic I AM

I use the HorseDream® “I AM” model in workshops, (based on the work of Paul Hunting) to help teams and groups reset group norms and rebuild a high level of trust and commitment with each other. Once we establish these identities, we then go out to be with the horses.

Horses provide a refreshing and new way of working with leaders and teams to develop both personal and professional pursuits.  The experience of finding ones alignment of “ I AM” mind/body/spirit in unison with an animal’s mind/body/spirit gives us faith and a place to practice this virtue with our fellow humans.

This kind of communication is for our own good, for the good of others and for the good of the company, family or community. The horse gives us the practice, if we are willing to respond in kind.  The horse has no agenda, no judgment, and people feel this.

Most business communication takes place between the outer layers of each person. But the horse ignores this mask and communicates to us directly with our true nature, our hearts.

A participant in our most recent teambuilding workshop had this to say. “This process guided our team to a deeper connection with each other and more understanding of who we are as individual leaders.  I learned it was OK to be vulnerable, and speak from personal truth, and that you don’t need to be a horse person to enjoy and benefit from this experience.  I highly recommend this program!”


So, for the love of whomever you “lead”, it may be time to horse around! If you would like to further explore how horses can help create more effective teams, custom equine-guided experiential programs can be designed for specific groups, businesses and organizations around any number of relevant issues and/or t