What we've learned from bringing horses and attorneys together is that even the most successful lawyers gain keen insights about how to move their law firm forward -- without being lectured, scolded or spending months in a classroom.
We recently shared the wrap-up video from The Summit (see below) with Ginny Telego, a master trainer in equine assisted learning and past president of The Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A). We wanted her reaction to the attorney's comments, and especially to know whether our clients' experiences were unique or unusual.
What follows are excerpts from that interview.
IMS: What was your first impression from watching the video?
I was struck by the powerful learning that these attorneys gained from doing experiential learning with the horses.
IMS: What do you think were the core concepts the attorneys learned?
To me, the core concepts that came through in their interviews were that they
- Overcame uncertainty in working with the horses;
- Realized how much could be learned when you don't know what to do;
- They really gained self-awareness of how they interact with staff; and
- The need to establish trust with their clients by focusing on what the clients need and not on what the attorneys do.
IMS: Ginny, you have so much experience bringing horses and professionals together, I know you weren't surprised at what these lawyers had to say about working with the horses. Could you take a few moments to explain more about each of these core concepts?
Sure. These outcomes are not surprising but they do speak to the powerful learning that comes from participating in a workshop such as the one offered at Legacy Ranch.
Looking at each of those concepts:
- They overcame uncertainty in working with the horses – Too often our response to uncertainty is to look backward or see it as a wall to moving forward. To those who are risk averse, uncertainty is very disconcerting. Being willing to overcome that uncertainty and still try different solutions is what can help business leaders move forward when faced with the unknown.
- Realized how much could be learned when you don't know what to do and how working with their teams, they were able to look beyond their comfort zones to find solutions that worked – Not knowing what to do can be a very uncomfortable place for leaders. It makes them feel vulnerable. Imagine if business leaders, like the teams working with the horses, looked to their team when they don’t know what to do, instead of trying to pretend they know and making decisions that are not in the best interest of the organization?
- Gained self-awareness of self and interactions with staff – Self awareness is one of the pillars of emotional intelligence yet is elusive to far too many business professionals, regardless of their position in an organization. Gaining this competence is what leads to better interactions with team members at all levels of an organization. If you want to reduce employee turnover, spend some time with a horse.
- The need to establish trust with their clients by focusing on what the clients need and not on what the attorneys do. – I think the comments from the attorney who shared this insight are pretty self explanatory of how his shift in thinking will likely lead to not just better relationships with his current clients but make him a sought-after attorney by other clients. People want to feel heard – they don’t want you to give them your resume and accomplishments. They can read all of that on your website. But when you truly step back and listen to what they need from you, that is when they will choose to follow you – which is what this attorney experienced in his time with the horses at The Summit.
IMS: When it comes to leadership development, what's unique about working with horses?
For business professionals, it’s easy to read articles or attend seminars on how to be a better leader, how to implement problem solving strategies, how to communicate better with clients, etc…. but reading or sitting through a presentation and doing are two very different things. And given the choice, most of us will revert to our comfort zone (doing what we’ve always done) despite reading articles or attending seminars.
For anyone who truly wants to see how “not doing what we’ve always done” can help their business scale up, participating in experiential learning with horses in a qualified program can put you ahead of your competitors.
Because horses require us to look at how we are communicating our vision and intention, they present the opportunity to dig deep and think differently about how we are leading, communicating or approaching strategy. These experiences are easily translated back to your business or law firm, as evidenced by the comments from the attorneys in the video. Change happens through action and only firms that can adapt and look for solutions outside of their “normal” channels will remain successful in today's rapidly changing business environment.
Here is a glimpse into how horses work with attorneys to help achieve break-through insights.
Ginny Telego is past president of the Board of Directors of the Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A), an international professional membership organization offering training, certification, business development and resources for the implementation of Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) programs by educators, coaches, professional development trainers and other facilitators. She is both a Certified Advanced Practitioner and Master Trainer for E3A and has traveled nationally and internationally to facilitate equine assisted leadership development as well as to train and certify new E3A practitioners. She has a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management and is President and founder of Wager’s Way, LLC, an equine experiential education business offering a variety of programs dedicated to helping people improve both their personal and professional lives by working with horses.