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Leadership Training with Horses: Like Horses, Leaders In Uncharted Territory Must Detect Subtle Shifts

horses in leadership training and leadership development

How Can Horses Help with Leadership Training?

We are living in uncertain of times which also means uncharted territory. As a country, we are experiencing major rifts and shifts in governmental leadership. However, in many segments of the corporate arena we are seeing another kind of shift, one that has the potential to lead us into a brighter future.

I am seeing this shift happening through my work with corporate leaders. And, my experience mirrors what Kelly Wendorf is proposing in her most recent blog entitled, The New Age of Corporate Enlightenment. Wendorf writes that some, “corporate leaders are seeking enlightenment. They are seeking the greater sensibilities that enlightenment affords: a sense of connection to the whole, wisdom, meaning, deep presence and service.” http://equussantafe.com/blog/

This is precisely what the corporate leaders who come to me with their teams are seeking through working with the horses.

Like the horses, these leaders seem to be sensing something new in the wind, perhaps some new threat, which if perceived in time always seems to open up new opportunities. Like the herd leader, these corporate leaders are intuitively seeking the safety and protection of their companies and teams.

Wendorff makes the point that, “These leaders are seeking a higher consciousness, and an active engagement with the wellspring of wisdom, intuition and attunement. And further, they are not just seeking it for themselves, but endeavoring to actively spread those attributes throughout the culture of their organizations.” http://equussantafe.com/blog/

Part of A Living Whole

In the herd, leadership is not a static state, however, it is always the primary communication. Roles of individuals in the herd are fluid yet crystal clear. Leadership is shared. The herd is a living, moving unit…a whole. A company, business, corporation of any size is a living, breathing wholeness and must be treated as a living being in order to survive the vicissitudes of time.

In the herd, the lead mare is the direction setter, determining forward, right, left or retreat as well as the pace (how fast or show) the herd travels. The stallion is the protector and keeps predators at bay. The sentinel (or sentinels) notice the slightest change in the environment and signal danger. Every herd member has a role and all of these roles are invaluable, one is not more important than another- all are dependent on one another for success. In addition, all horses contribute to the socialization of the young, or new herd members teaching what behaviors are acceptable (rules and boundaries). The goal is always the united well-being of the herd.

Learning Leadership – Leadership Training – from The Herd

How do human leaders, be they in the corporate or governmental arena, stay centered, accountable, resourceful, connected, available and authentic in uncertain times and uncharted territory? Many of them are bringing their managers and teams to Medicine Ranch and other equine-guided education facilities to learn what authentic leadership feels and looks like. When horses perceive danger, they come together. Humans, on the other hand, typically scatter apart, isolate and often become controlling and anxious.

Like leadership in the herd, human leaders need to be able to give clear signals and direction on how to respond to change.  Leaders are able to follow with focus and provide the team with guidance and pace, embodying authenticity which is defined as when inner thoughts match outer expressions. Team members must always believe that their “leaders” have the best interest of the team as a core value. This creates trust and confidence which inspires the teams’ best efforts.

A more effective model might be taken from the horse herd, who remain focused on their priorities of safety-  for the individual and for the herd simultaneously.

Today’s businesses are understanding their greater leadership role in the world, as Wendorf points out in her blog post that, “of the world’s top 100 economies, well over half of them are corporations, not countries.” It’s not surprising that more and more corporate leaders are looking to achieve more natural leadership skills and authenticity through working with horses. These are the leaders that are aware on some level that, as Wendorf believes and quotes LinkedIn’s VP of Executive Development, Fred Kofman,“The larger purpose of business is to serve as a theatre for self-knowledge, self-actualization and transcendence.” http://equussantafe.com/blog/

The shifts are more noticeable and the changes are coming more quickly. The horses can show us how to lead the way through this uncharted territory. If you would like to further explore how horses can help create more effective teams and leaders, our team at Medicine Horse Ranch designs custom equine-guided experiential programs for specific groups, businesses and organizations around any number of relevant issues and/or topics.