Leadership and its impact on financial performance has been a widely studied subject in business. The premise of leadership is the capacity to provide confidence and to motivate people to the realisation of a common purpose. While effective leaders should have the capacity to translate a vision into reality they should not be purely task oriented; but should also inspire and motivate people along the way.
While companies typically invest money and time in educating and training their employees to become effective leaders, it is generally underappreciated how profoundly an organisation’s working environment can impact its financial results. Indeed, research suggests that nearly one third of an organisation’s financial performance can be attributed to its working environment which, in turn, is influenced by leadership. Unfortunately, it does not matter how much training (or technical skills) a leader has, it is highly unlikely he or she will become a great leader without what is known as ‘emotional intelligence’.
“It was different to any other form of leadership training and it was relevant to what we need – emotional intelligence”;
What is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is defined as the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions. Research has found that people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time. This anomaly challenged the broadly held assumption that IQ was the sole source of success. It was discovered that emotional intelligence was the missing link, with 90% of top performers found to have high emotional intelligence.
But how does one teach emotional intelligence? Traditional leadership programs typically don’t take participants’ individual and contextual differences into consideration and, as a result, research suggests they do not have a positive long-term effect. Moreover, traditional leadership programs have also been criticised for having an overly didactic approach. It is argued that true leadership is about behaviour and needs to be taught based on experience. Therefore, our leadership program involves the use of horses because a horse can only work within the boundaries of the present moment and horses offer a communication environment grounded in honesty and truth, providing participants with immediate experiences.
“Going into the unknown, it made me challenge what I thought I knew about aspects of body language and leadership strategies. The post activity reflection was great to connect activities back to leadership and personal development”.
The program is designed to couple experiential learning (present moment experiences with horses) with a theoretical understanding about how our brain works to provide a holistic approach to leadership training. Through ground based activities with the horses, the participants become aware of the consequences of their emotional and physical presence (i.e. self-awareness) because they quickly learn that if they want to change a horse’s behaviour they need to change their own behaviours, thoughts and feelings. The theoretical component of the program outlines the latest neuroscience research and provides participants with a deeper understanding of how the brain influences human behaviour in the workplace.
We have an experienced team comprising: a facilitator; a clinical specialist; a former business professor; and two horse specialists to provide a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else in Perth. With only a 35 minute drive south from the CBD you will find the open air environment under the trees to not only provide a respite from the office but research has also shown that being surrounded by nature lowers heart rate and blood pressure, reduces stress hormone production, boosts the immune system, and improves overall feelings of wellbeing.
“An amazing afternoon that helped consolidate how I behave as a leader. The conversations were insightful and a valuable tool. Thank you for letting us work with such beautiful horses”;
We have run some very successful pilot sessions, with our program officially launching next month. I welcome any thoughts you may have on the program and if you are interested in finding out more, I encourage you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org