Transformational Lessons about Leadership from Horses

Published: June 9, 2016
Author: ConsciousCafe

Jude Jennison and Emma Taylor run The Leadership Whisperers. A training company working with CEOs and their top teams, to enable them to learn more about themselves and how they can positively develop their leadership and managerial skills, by working with the wisdom of horses. Their clients include several household names so we were especially thrilled when Jude and Emma generously offered ConsciousCafe a taste of how they work.

The indoors Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre was built as part of Anneka Rice’s Challenge programme in the ‘80s and does incredibly important work to improve the lives of disabled people. 40 of us arrived there on a warm light summer evening, excited as to what we might learn and some of us a little apprehensive having never worked alongside horses before.

How do we Lead in a time of Uncertainty

Jude explained that we can learn a lot about leadership from horses because they have no agenda. Working with horses is working with uncertainty and as all leaders must work with uncertainty, the horses mirror how each of us leads in situations and times of uncertainty.

Four volunteers chose to work with two beautiful horses and each of them took a turn leading one of the horses around the arena while the audience observed closely their leadership style. Leading a horse can be difficult for no one knows how the horses will respond. Each volunteer revealed how the experience had felt for them and what they had learned.

Jude - girl leading horse


What Part do We Play in the Team?

Jude and Emma then invited all the participants into the arena with the horses and gave each of us the opportunity to explore how we lead – from the front, from the side or from behind. They presented new ways of thinking about our position in the team and gave us the opportunity to experience how this felt as we all took part in a simple group exercise.

In a final task, all those who particularly wanted to work with the horses stayed in the arena and completed an activity which involved working in teams and leading the horses through an obstacle course. As I watched this final exercise from the audience stand, I felt a lump come into my throat. People who had never met before had worked beautifully as a team with two very wise animals to move in seamless flow and harmony. I thought that the exercise also reflected the energy of people who come to ConsciousCafe, trusting, present, intuitive, thoughtful, caring.

Transformational Leadership - obstacle exercise

At the end of the session everyone had the opportunity to be with the horses in the arena and to share in groups what they had experienced and what they had learned about their own leadership style and capabilities. Everyone departed the event with new knowledge about themselves, learned in the most memorable and unique way.

Huge thanks to Jude and Emma for giving their time and for sharing their expertise. If you want to learn more, you can read Jude’s book Leadership Beyond Measure, details of which are on the books page at ConsciousCafe. Emma told us the remarkable story of the Pony centre and if you would like to volunteer there, you can learn more here.

ConsciousCafe Founder

ConsciousCafe is a not-for-profit organisation, a friendly and welcoming community, a place to live life consciously.