The Athena Herd Foundation Team recently developed and ran a customised corporate away-day for a team of sustainability professionals from a leading global professional services firm, also referred to as one of the Big Four accounting firms.
Objectives for the day included: core objectives focused on team building and recognising the importance of self-awareness in building emotional and social intelligence. This, in turn, promotes and builds individual as well as collective performance which is especially important when trying to build and maintain resilience in a corporate environment.
These objectives invited participants to think about how they might bring the best version of themselves to times of challenge. In essence, how can individuals develop the necessary resilience to self-manage through difficult times. An important, but rarely engaged skill within the workplace.
Key learnings and take-aways: To be resilient and the best version of ourselves, demands presence. That quality of presence means not just being self-aware, but also socially and situationally aware. Recognising not just how we are and how we feel, but how we need to be in the moment, and what others might need from us.
Being truly present accelerates one’s ability to generate/create/develop insight, it means being able to develop and sustain a balanced awareness of self and situation, and thus facilitates meaningful interactions and effective performance.
Together, through a series of meditative and mindfulness exercises alongside the herd the team at Athena, participants were able explore first-hand how their state of mind impacts themselves and how this, in turn, influences their interactions with others. This opportunity to interact directly with members of the herd allowed participants the chance to receive direct and honest feedback from the herd in response to one own’s energy.
For example, some participants who may have been feeling anxious at the prospect of being amidst a herd of horses found themselves practicing mindfulness breathing techniques as they approached two of the larger hoses in the herd – the effect of which – much to the participants’ delight – was a calming interaction between human and horse. Imagine the effect of bringing similar techniques into the workplace, where a few key skills in mindfulness and breathing can turn a daunting presentation into a resounding success.
This process really did illicit some important insights, definitely some important ones to take back to work, here are a few:
“I need to give people space to create their own opinions and solutions”
“Just how important balanced communication is in the workplace”
“[The day] helped demonstrate the diversity of strengths and personality traits in our teams, and it helped build social intelligence by acknowledging those and understanding how different people react in different situations.”
“I also really see the mindfulness point – both for ourselves and for the team: it’s really powerful to interact with the team in such a different context, and be taken out of the normal / “comfort” zone, where some might find it easier to thrive and demonstrate their uniqueness than others.”
“Recognising and acknowledging how my behaviour affects others”
As a team at Athena Herd Foundation we have talked a lot about how this learning process surfaces awareness. It really does accelerate insight. The process demands that we take our whole self into the exercises, and as such it is not just about our words, our knowledge, our roles or our titles. Authenticity is essential. It is about how we show up, how we engage and how we are in the moment.
The horses simply offer us honest feedback which we can work with. That feedback and our response to it gives rise to what we call Accelerated Insights™.
Our thanks to Rebecca Wilkinson-Blanc – Senior Manager – for her contributions to the day and to this blog.