Last week we ran the first thought leadership round table with horses. Sound crazy? Thought leadership often is, as it is ahead of the curve.
Thought leadership tends to be seen as the domain of our brilliant brains. This was a thought leadership event with a difference. We included horses in the discussion. The conversations were richer, more connected and we tapped into a deeper sense of embodied wisdom that is missing when are confined only to mere words and thoughts.
Entitled ‘Leadership from the Field’, the event brought together thought leaders from their own fields of expertise to discuss Leading through uncertainty, specifically how do we shape the future of leadership to lead through the uncertainty of the current global ecosystem?
Thought leaders came together from a variety of sectors and explored the challenges facing global leadership today. The objectives of the round table were to:
- Challenge our thinking on leadership and learning and shape the future of leadership
- Raise our individual and collective consciousness
- Embody the concepts we discuss by working them through with the horses and gain feedback from a different species on how we lead and what is possible
- Role model dialogue and listening as part of leadership to collaborate and innovate in business
- Have a shared commitment to act differently
We achieved all that and much more.
Otto Scharmer’s U theory formed the structure for the discussion and we blended intellectual discussion and working with the horses to integrate the wisdom of the head, heart and gut.
We began the day by discussing the current challenges of leadership – notably the fear, anxiety and polarisation that we see in every field, as well as some more positive aspects of leadership that we are seeing in parallel. We gained insights on the impact of the speed of technological change and explored the pros and cons of technology, gaining greater understanding of the values and behaviours needed to use it more positively.
Having discussed letting go of habits and behaviours that no longer serve us on a micro and a macro level, we worked with the horses to deepen the process of letting go and spent time getting grounded, present and connected. When we reach into the heart and soul of each and every one of us, things become clearer.
The afternoon was deliberately opened up to the group to co-create a way forward and the usual challenges of leading through uncertainty arose as we worked with the horses, not knowing what would emerge. As so often happens in times of uncertainty and change, we moved between engaged and disengaged, connected and disconnected, focused and unclear. Each of us uncovered personal challenges of leading through uncertainty and shared them with the group, gaining a greater understanding of our similarities as well as our differences.
It was a day of polarities – fun, discomfort, interest, frustration and not always at the same time. As emotional beings, we have an emotional response to everything we think and do and it often surprises people to discover that when one person is engaged, another is bored, another is terrified and another is relaxed. Our differences make working in a team dynamic, interesting and also challenging as we need to listen at a deeper level and stay connected throughout the moments of discomfort, which varied for each of us. What became clear is our conscious awareness of ourselves, our behaviours, our impact on others and how we navigate our differences is crucial to leading through uncertainty.
Above all, this was a thought leadership round table with a difference. Yes we had stimulating intellectual discussions but the real shifts began when we worked with the horses and moved our exploration to integrate the brain’s information with the heart and soul of each and every one of us. Human beings are so much greater than our brilliant minds. It’s time to bring back the heart and soul of leadership. The world is yearning for deeper levels of listening, connection and dialogue. It’s perhaps no surprose that in our fast paced technological world, we often overlook these fundamental innate skills but they remain accessible when we learn to pay attention at a deeper level.
Each of us left with personal commitments to expand our leadership capabilities and to have more influence in our own fields.
Jude will be writing a more detailed report on Leadership from the Field that will be published in November and will form the basis of her speech at the HR Directors summit in Jan 2017.
We were delighted to have Vanessa Clarke in the discussion. Vanessa is a senior lecturer in leadership from Birmingham City University and she will be including the output as part of some research she is doing into the impact of equine-guided leadership. We look forward to continuing to work with Vanessa as she formulates her thoughts further into an academic paper to be published next year.
The round table proved to be invaluable to all those who attended and we will be running our next one on 27th April 2017.
If you would like to be included in an interesting and stimulating thought leadership round table with horses and help shape the future of leadership, please contact Jude for your personal invitation.