At the Athena Herd Foundation, leadership is about how you are
Real leadership demands authenticity. Effective leadership is built upon an objective understanding of how we are and the skills and resources to manage this. We cannot make someone follow us any more than we can demand their trust. Therefore, we must ask ourselves, how would we create such a state in ourselves that others will choose to follow us. This is where our experiential work with horses generates value.
Effective work with horses requires us to be emotionally intelligent. We need to understand, not just ourselves, but the effect that we have on others. Personal development and professional success is increasingly recognised as being more about our ability to effectively interact socially than technical skills and knowledge.
We need to establish social connections which are clear in communication, intention and focus. This facilitates clarity in direction and nurtures leadership that is without force or excessive pressure. Whether on the track, in our paddocks, or arena, demonstrable engagement with these skills is a fundamental prerequisite to interacting with our horses.
The power of insight
There is no learning without insight. If we are to develop personally or professionally, we need to understand the need for difference and recognise the benefit. An important element here is feedback, and of course the willingness to accept it. Well delivered objective and non-judgemental feedback offers insight creating an opportunity from which we can learn and develop.
Working alongside horses creates this insight. Horses are highly sensitive, social animals, as such they honestly respond to how we are. They do not role play or judge, they simply act upon that which is before them. Most importantly, not only do they respond to how we show up, but they adapt and shift if we do. Quite simply, they give clean feedback in the moment, showing us how the behaviour of others can change as we shift.
In practice, we must be able to lead and manage ourselves if we are to lead and manage others. The Athena Herd Foundation offers those responsible for leading and managing others the opportunity to:
• develop powerful insight into how we behave in different situations;
• recognise the impact that our conscious and unconscious actions and behaviour have upon others.
• nurture self-awareness as a foundation for emotional and social intelligence;
• work on personal resilience and purposefulness needed for challenging times;
• understand the gap between intention and positive action;
• develop and practice the skills and competencies needed to be an authentic and effective leader;
• establish meaningful connection and embody clarity in our communication.
High-performing teams need every member to participate with authenticity and commitment. There needs to be an environment which promotes trust, fosters engagement and nurtures contribution.
When the team is not well-formed, connected or aligned, then performance is generally compromised. How we are as a team (for better or worse) often manifests clearly in collective interactions with horses.
Whether we are building a new team or working with an existing one to improve performance, working with horses provides accelerated important insight and opportunity. Insight around what works well, and what could be improved. Insight into the unconscious dynamics that influence performance. Opportunity arises in this awareness. We can explore and engage the collective skills and innate resources within the team and shift performance.
The horses support accelerated insights by:
• developing the skills needed for effective team vision and direction;
• highlighting the value of clear and effective communication across the team;
• recognising the importance of creating an open and supportive culture;
• understanding and respecting the importance of all roles and contributions; and
• acknowledging the value of trust as an organisational asset.
Our team has significant breath of practice in the training space, effectively facilitating individual learning and change in situations as diverse as the boardroom, the stable or web tools.
We also have extensive on-the-ground corporate experience in key areas such as leadership, developmental, strategic and operational activities.