Leadership Challenges — how we can better equip ourselves

At Equine Affinity we believe that the horse offers us an invaluable opportunity to reflect upon, and learn more, about our own effectiveness. Lessons that we can then apply to everyday situations, in both our personal and professional lives. These lessons can be particularly relevant to those in leadership roles.

What can leaders do to make sure they’re ready to face the next challenge?

Sai Shanmugarajah, Equine Affinity’s Non-Executive Advisor, offers a few practical things leaders can do to help ensure they respond in the best possible way and describes how we address them here at Equine Affinity.

  1. Actively listening to a diversity of voices.

No man is an island, entire of itself …’ -

Tackle the risk of Confirmation Bias within your decision-making process, by engaging with people from DIFFERENT walks of life within, and outside of, your sphere of operation. It’s important to pay attention to people who see the world very differently from you and can bring different perspectives that challenge yours.

At Equine Affinity we use horses to offer a unique, challenging and reflective mentoring experience, because as herd animals they are at their most effective when they are operating within a group. There is a raw authenticity to the interactions of these remarkable creatures, with other members of their herd and us humans.

2. Make time to explore and understand your strengths and weaknesses.

Self-development starts with self-awareness.

An experiential reflective exercise, as part of a leadership development course could prove to be an effective catalyst for insights of oneself. This could be meaningfully nurtured further with an executive mentor/coach.

Seek to broaden your leadership capability to better develop your leadership signature. There are various leadership frameworks out there, and the more frameworks you have access to, the more encompassing your thinking and ultimately more robust your decision-making.

At Equine Affinity we know and teach that the only way you are going to meaningfully address your development needs, and indeed interact with a horse in the arena, is to be at your most genuine.

After all horses don’t do pretence.

3. Pass on knowledge

Those who can, teach

One of the best ways to reinforce knowledge and competence is to teach or mentor.

Passing on this knowledge (e.g. by mentoring/coaching or even taking on a non-executive position for a non-profit) will not only help others in your organisation, but will also help you broaden your sources of information and influence. It can also help you establish and maintain an active understanding of your capabilities and how your actions and decisions are being received.

As you grow in your job, your frames of reference will always need to change and evolve. And it’s hard — almost impossible — to do this without external input. Ultimately, the more tools at your disposal, the more ready you’ll be.

At Equine Affinity we embrace the belief that to be truly open to your capacity to develop, you must be open to the diverse sources of learning. Working in conjunction with body workers, psychotherapists and equine specialists — we try to distil learning from the behavioural and interactive dynamics of these incredible creatures. Contact us to find out more here

Sai Shanmugarajah is an experienced Strategic Leadership & Governance Consultant with over fifteen years direct experience of working with senior leaders across the UK public sector and internationally.

Sai is also an Executive Coach and an independent board member on promotion boards for senior leadership positions at the Metropolitan Police.