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.