Horse Whisperer Challenge
“If you have gained the trust of a horse, you have won a friend for life” – Equestrian Co.
“Is this really a Leadership program or is it a gimmick?” I heard one of the participants whisper. Far from being upset, I realized that another journey of learning was just kicking off.
•When run in the physical mode, The same group that initially starts by moving up gingerly towards the horses, become surprisingly calm and composed by the end of the day. The objective of the workshop is not to teach participants to become master equestrian riders. Rather, it is to learn from the wisdom of the horses – and that seems to percolate through inconspicuously, every single time.
The sessions are video recorded and analyzed together with the team to glean out nuggets of wisdom for leaders to mull about and absorb.
• When run in the virtual mode: It is amazing how much can be achieved even in the virtual mode with horses! Participants are taken step by step through a process of getting familiar with horses, understanding them and learning from these wise creatures through a mechanism of live interactions and video recordings followed by a methodology of questioning and helping participants arrive upon the insights themselves. The role of the Facilitator in virtual sessions is to help participants notice and read the behaviors of the horses in different circumstances and link that back to their roles as leaders at work.
Virtual sessions have also been adapted to international concepts like LIVE Treasure hunts and sessions that are customised to bring out specific learning outcomes like team work, inspiring leadership, communication, appreciation, collaboration, influence, emotional intelligence, displaying empathy and motivating others.
The most frequent phrase we hear after the Horse Whisperer Challenge is that, “we can learn so much from horses.” Here are a few such insights:
⦁ The position of leadership must be earned daily
A horse’s social dynamic is different than a human’s. Horses have a herd mentality. The herd’s leader is its strongest member, a position he must display daily. Similarly, showing up with a positive attitude daily is critical for leaders. Leaders need to be consistent.
⦁ A leader controls his emotions in any interaction
Horses are prey animals, each guided by a strong self-preservation instinct. Their default emotion is fear. Hence they are highly sensitive to the emotions of the person handling him. If the person is relaxed, the horse is calm. If the person is fearful or angry, the horse will mirror those emotions through his behavior. A horse’s trust is earned by a person’s consistency of action and emotion.
The same is true with people. Your job as a leader is to determine what kind of environment will encourage your employees to achieve their goals. What impact are your emotions having on them, positive or negative? Are you managing your emotions effectively? These are valuable questions to ask as you learn how to best set your employees up for success. When you are focused on others, you gain perspective, humility and lead from a place of strength.
⦁ A leader is aware of her surroundings at all times
One must stay focused to pick up on the cues a horse gives prior to taking action, maintaining a constant awareness of what is going on with the horse and its surroundings. For example, before a horse bucks, tension builds up in his body. A horse’s preparation tells one what is about to happen. Staying aware gives one time to redirect his attention so trouble is avoided.
Similarly, as a leader, you must be aware of what is going on around you at all times. Invest time to learn how others around you interact, what drives them and how to best lead your group of passionate employees. Like any skill, the more you practice, the stronger you become. Tuning into your surroundings includes paying attention to patterns of behavior in the people you lead.
⦁ How a leader communicates is vital
If you step in confidently, the horse recognises you as a leader. But if you step in as a shy person, not very confident, have a slouchy position, or voice that is not very clear, the horse mirrors that and becomes less confident. You may not get the outcome you seek. Horses sense and respond to a person’s intentions, emotions and thoughts that are conveyed subconsciously through body language.
The same is true while leaders communicate with their teams too. The importance of the Executive Presence that a leader needs to exude is brought to life in a most tangible way.
A few key parameters:
Outdoor or Virtual
Where this can be run
30 (Outdoor) / 15 (Virtual)
Total Group sizes
Is this workshop right for my team? The concept of “Horse Assisted Education” was developed in Germany more than 20 years ago. Currently numerous Fortune 500 companies around the world are using this program to help develop the skills of their leaders, based on the proven Horse Dream (EAHAE) concept. Horses are wise creatures that can teach us a lot about leadership, like: ⦁ How to be empathetic ⦁ How to get a message across non-verbally and using positive reinforcement. ⦁ The importance of maintaining a strong and consistent direction ⦁ The importance of being able to see things through someone else’s eyes as well as listening to another person’s point of view ⦁ Being consistent in one’s behavior - having a “bad day” is just as unacceptable with horses as it is when working with people. ⦁ Creating respect without fear and developing sustainable relationships based on mutual trust. Horses, just like people do not respond well to aggressive or submissive behaviour. ⦁ Rapport building with people and horses is about mutual respect and horse whispering can improve the way leaders deal with people. Working with horses can help take leaders out of their comfort zone and teaches them strong leaderships skills in a creative and memorable away. Most people won’t have been near a horse before let alone tried to communicate with one. Learning to connect with a horse can give them the tools to better connect and influence people as a leader. If you are looking for a truly unique experience to engage all your leaders and help them learn about leadership in a most unique way, FocusU invites you to The Horse Whisperer challenge today! Contact Us today - we will be glad to meet up and discuss the possibilities for your team!