Taking the reins: Hooked on Leadership course

What could horses possibly teach us about leadership? MEC’s Head of Talent Management, Cheryl Holton, saddled up at a Hooked on Leadership workshop in April to find out.

Hooked on Leadership’s mission is to teach people how to lead “from a place of certainty, presence and service”. Their two-day events deliberately challenge attendees by removing them from their familiar work environment and placing them in rural surroundings, with exercises in horsemanship as a central part of their leadership training.

The workshops focus on:

  • giving on-the-spot feedback so you can learn, refine and implement as you go
  • changing your internal thinking in order to influence your external actions
  • developing your presence (how you turn up to your team, not what you do to your team).

Cheryl admits that she was apprehensive – she hadn’t had much to do with horses in the past, and she had few expectations about what she was going to learn.

Hooked leadership 2While Cheryl’s experience on the course was outside her comfort zone and confronting at times, she says she was rewarded with invaluable insight. “I found myself on a journey that challenged a lot of what I thought I knew about myself and how I approached building relationships.”

According to Hooked on Leadership facilitators Rebecca Livesey and Angela Koning, horses provide a perfect mirror for human behaviour. They can teach us how to lead better because they react in an authentic way – they live in the present, give honest feedback and don’t hold grudges. They can also be unpredictable and challenging at times, just like humans.

“The horses could sense if I was unsure of myself or not confident in the way that I was leading them,” says Cheryl.

Cheryl found that when she changed the way she approached the horses, focusing on providing the support and guidance that they needed, instead of thinking of her own feelings and questioning her ability – she made a breakthrough. For her, the experience was a reminder of the essential nature of leadership: supporting and serving others rather than ourselves. She returned from the workshop with a renewed perspective and a deeper understanding of leadership presence and authenticity – and she says she has the horses to thank.

The next 2-Day breakthrough event is on the 20-21July in Brisbane, click here to find out more or to reserve your spot: Hooked on Leadership