Our success stories…
Context: Government agency — change culture of department through long-term contract.
Challenge: A government agency wanted to change their culture from top-down management style to a more collaborative environment whereby management was more accountable, empowered, self-reliant, and needing less direction from the top. To integrate the new culture throughout the company.
Approach: We curated a long-term process—using various methodologies—that supported the team to engage in new ways of cultivating trust, leading together, and assuming mastery. This included co-creation meetings, department head interviews, an all-day leadership lab with horse-assisted learning, private coaching sessions for the agency head, a half-day integration workshop, and concluded with an all-day staff retreat.
Impact: There were the following outcomes:
- Leadership team gained trust, safety and dialog with one another.
- Each member of the team stepped into their strengths.
- Top executives, liberated by the leadership team’s self-reliance, took on new roles that better fit their own professional and personal aspirations.
- The remaining team is now working together, transforming the entire agency as a whole, into a unified, engaged presence.
- They have gained attention as a model organization within a much larger entity.
- As a result of their organizational change approach, the agency is being recognized as a revolutionary workplace environment.
Midway through the contract, the leadership team committed to regular semi-monthly ‘wisdom circles’, which created an opportunity for them to come together, not in the usual meeting capacity, but as colleagues and co-mentors to continue supporting one another in stepping into their new evolving capacities thereby continuing the agency’s positive evolutionary process.
Context: Couple’s retreat – Lucy and Robert, married for 28 years, seeking to renew and revitalize their relationship.
Challenge: Lucy and Robert had been separated two times, unable to address certain core issues that continued to arise between them. Those issues arose from an ‘intimacy gap’ that remained intact through Lucy’s need for more space, and Robert’s desire to be loved and validated.
Approach: After speaking privately with each person, we designed a three-day private retreat for Lucy and Robert. The retreat included two one-hour phone sessions to gather information and co-create the retreat. The days were spent with the horses, together and apart, to learn about the language of boundaries, the relational aspects of negotiating ‘space’, and how to cultivate trust in themselves and in each other. We engaged break-out dialog sessions to explore the insights. The contract concluded with two one-hour follow up phone calls to support the integration process.
Impact: The couple was greatly benefited from this focused time. They recommitted themselves to their marriage, while committing to their own self-care. They emerged with the following:
- Increased ability to communicate difficult feelings.
- Greater trust.
- New tools for communication.
- Permission to be real and themselves.
- Greater understanding of how an‘intimacy gap’ works, and how to slowly close the gap while maintaining safety.
- The sense of seeing, and being seen by, the other.
The Axialent team
Context: International consultancy firm, Axialent, sought an experience to deepen each member’s understanding of complex theoretical organizational learning concepts so that they could ‘walk their talk’ more authentically. The client sought a deeply personal experience for each participant, and a transformational change.
Challenge: Given the diversity of experience and processing styles represented in the group, we had to find a means to bridge their orientation and find a common ground of inquiry and exploration. The group consisted of staff ranging from support all the way up to core leadership; participants needed to be able to leave their roles at the door, so as to enable a more laterally-informed dynamic that would foster trust and connection. This was especially important for a team that normally works remotely at great distances apart.
Approach: We curated a half-day retreat comprised of experiences with the horses and open reflective dialog. Specifically, we aimed our inquiry and exercises to address certain core themes such as leadership, presence and authority.
Design Theme and Client Impact:
- Where does presence live in the body: Participants were able to understand and articulate a new awareness of where to access their presence, when it was strong and when it was less impactful.
- The power of congruence — accessing the wisdom of the body by welcoming emotional experiences rather than bypassing or numbing them: Participants had a visceral experience of the power of congruence of intention, affect and connection. The “unmasking” was particularly impactful landing the learning that authentically representing what is true for you was more compelling than “having it all together”.
- Becoming attuned to the subtle — the nonverbal and the invisible: Participants were grounded in the experience of listening between words and how much leadership is communicated without words. Tuning into this aspect of leadership had significant power for this group given their global/virtual connection.
- The difference between intention of presence and impact of real presence: The wisdom of horses recognizing and responding to “real” presence vs. the aspiration of presence provided deep learning around authentic leadership and where participants can recover to their truth vs. manufacturing false confidence.
- Awareness of what it means to influence authentically vs. depending on authority/title: A deep understanding of influencing through authentic presence rather than depending on title, role, hierarchy or authority not only reconnected the team but illuminated leadership without title. This provided clear identification of unknown high potentials within the team.
Context: Women, Power & Money Retreat, a three-day retreat for 12 professional women from major national corporations, educational institutions and privately held businesses from all over the country.
Challenge: The focus of the retreat was to provide the opportunity for women, representing diverse backgrounds and fields, to explore their strengths and ways to express their leadership and power through participation in a number of modalities. We endeavored to create a supportive community that would continue beyond the retreat.
Susan, an educator and writer, arrived with a sense of herself as vulnerable and disabled. Retired from a long and successful career, she developed a disease that threatened her joints and required multiple surgeries and years of physical therapy. This elegant, intelligent, tall woman who had strode confidently through her earlier life was hunched, halting in her step and timid in her engagement with the world.
Approach: Through various group and individual exercises, deep self-inquiry, dialog in circle, and exercises with the horses, Susan had the opportunity to have her story, her aspirations and her vulnerabilities witnessed by other competent, successful, honest women. Susan was initially unsure that she would be physically able to walk in the paddock with the horses, or to effectively ask them to work with her through the exercises.
She moved slowly and cautiously in the paddock, looking for physical support to stabilize her. As the group gathered in a circle in the paddock to talk through their experience, one of the horses named Kelty, who is not particularly relational, pushed her way through the circle to come straight to this tall woman who was sitting on a tree stump. Kelty came purposely to her, put her nose right at her shoulder and stayed with her through the circle, her head finally nestled in Susan’s lap. This is not a typical experience for this exercise. The woman was overwhelmed with emotion. For Susan, a deep validation occurred, simply in Kelty’s deliberate attention.
Impact: 18 months after the women’s retreat, most of the participants continue to meet on voluntary month support calls. They report that their life and professional situations are vastly improved, with less stress, wiser decision making and a greater sense of meaning and purpose. Many have signed on to a second and third retreat.
Susan’s physical therapist, upon her first appointment after the retreat, was astonished by the change in her body. Susan was told she had made so much progress that she did not need to return. One of Susan’s commitments during the retreat was to publish her poetry. She left the retreat committed to sharing her poetry, and has since created her own poetry blog subscribed to by many readers.