While emotional intelligence is a relatively new concept, the skills needed to be an emotionally intelligent leader have been around as long as humans have gathered in groups. The set of skills that make up emotional intelligence have evolved along with our evolution. The need to cope, adapt, and get along with others is as essential in today’s life as in the early hunter-gatherer societies.
But how do you develop these skills?
To answer this question, you need first to understand what the building blocks of emotional intelligence are. The following emotional skills are essential for developing emotionally intelligent competencies.
1. Emotional Self-Awareness – the ability to be aware of and understand your feelings and the impact they have on your life and your environment.
2. Self- Regard – the ability to accept and respect your strengths and your weaknesses.
3. Self Actualization – the ability for self-improvement and the pursuit of meaning in your life.
What is the best way to learn these skills?
One of the most powerful tools to acquire these skills is through coaching with horses, also called equine-assisted learning. You might be thinking: What do horses have to do with emotional intelligence? Quite a lot!
If you’ve ever been around a horse, you may have noticed the strong force of energy they exude. A power that may have caused you to instantly question if the horse respects you and if you can trust this massive animal. And when you think about this encounter a little longer, you may notice that you were not able to think about anything else but the horse. You were present with the animal in the exact moment of time.
By merely being with horses, you can immediately feel a sense of being in the here and now. A strong force of energy pulls you into the present moment – into the field of truth. There, it is not essential if you have a specific title or if you wear expensive clothes to be socially accepted.
Horses help you become aware of our whole being – your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. They connect you with your innate wisdom, your essence, and the essence of life. Horses inspire you to reflect on your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and challenge them, so that you can create the life you desire, both personally and professionally.
How is this helpful for your day-to-day work?
As a leader, you need to be aware of your emotions and how you come across to others. That’s where self-awareness, self-regard, and self-actualization come in. As Sheryl Sandberg puts it so aptly: “We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.”
What can you expect when attending an equine-assisted learning workshop?
In our equine-assisted coaching workshops, we won’t ask you to ride a horse or fix a fence. The event starts with an introductory theoretical part where you learn some fundamental horse skills and safety rules. Afterward, we invite you to work with a horse of your choice on the ground in a round corral. We will ask you to fulfill specific tasks with the horse. During this whole time, you will feel that on the one hand, you are the actor, but on the other hand, you are also an observer. Communication with the horse alternates with a reflection about your behavior, thoughts, and emotions.
There is so much more you can take home when attending a horse-assisted leadership workshop. One more thing I’d like to mention here is that coaching with horses encourages you to peel back the layers of conditioning of the past. The very things that have led you to develop limiting beliefs and behaviors that don’t serve you. This clarity, my friend, will be of tremendous value for you to create an authentic life full of ease and joy!
Scientific Studies about Equine Assisted Learning and Leadership
In 2018 a study was conducted to investigate how equine-assisted learning can help people in leadership positions develop emotional intelligence (Rajfura & Karaszewski, 2018). The researchers found that horses are incredibly helpful in assisting leaders in developing skills referring to their emotional intelligence – a vital ability for effective leadership.
Another study by Rothe et al. in 2004 investigated how horses can be supportive in the development of emotional factors such as self-esteem and social interaction and create a sense of well-being. What they found was that solely by being in the horses’ presence, participants encountered their innermost vitality and emotions, which helped them improve their coping skills in life.
Although equine-assisted leadership training is a relatively young field, especially in North America, we can see more and more research supporting this incredible work.
Developing the skillset of emotional intelligence is crucial for leadership success. Equine-assisted coaching provides a perfect environment for you to develop the skills necessary to become a more emotionally intelligent leader. Several scientific studies prove the effectiveness of horse-assisted learning for leadership success.
For more information and to sign up for our workshops, visit www.brainpower360.ca/events
Rajfura, T., Karaszewski, R. (2018). Horse Sense Leadership: What Can Leaders Learn from Horses? Journal of Corporate Responsibility and Leadership. 5(1). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/JCRL.2018.004
Rothe et al., 2004, From kids and horses: Equine facilitated psychotherapy for children. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology. 5(2), 373-388.
Corina is a change agent, equine-assisted master coach, mindfulness practitioner and culture strategist. She is the co-owner of Brainpower360, an all-encompassing leadership and team development, and recruiting company. For over 30 years, they have provided their clients with workforce solutions and executive leadership training, ranging in such industries as manufacturing, IT, engineering, automotive, and more. Brainpower360 not only provides services to connect the right staff with the right organization, but also works to develop corporate cultures, inspire teams, and help people maintain and reclaim good health through resilience training and mindfulness interventions.