Saddle up your managers. The University of Guelph is taking leadership training out of the office and on to the farm.
The University's Open Learning program is offering a novel one-day leadership course this spring using horses to teach management skills.
The course, called "The Horse and the Gray Flannel Suit," is running May 26 in partnership with an Aberfoyle-based consulting company, VelocityWorks.
Horses are effective in this type of training because live in a clearly defined hierarchy and are quick to engage with other horses and with people, said Melanie Prosser, development manager with the U of G's Open Learning program.
"Horses will tell you exactly what type of leadership style people have," said Prosser. "They instinctively look to a leader for direction — it's an unconditional response."
By using horses to illustrate leadership styles, participants will learn ways to improve their management skills, said Vicki Dickson, president of Velocity Works.
"Horses respond very directly to different leadership styles," said Dickson. "It's a fun, non-threatening, but very revealing exercise for the participants."
Participants will work with horses to learn about problem-solving, leadership, motivation, teamwork and other skills. In one exercise, team members will try to corral a horse and prepare it for riding – attaching a harness, halter and saddle – without speaking to one another.
There are a few equine-assisted learning programs in the United States, but this is the first time the University is offering this type of course, said Prosser.
"There's a need for a different way to get people out of the office and teach them leadership. The skills you learn with handling a horse you can take right away and start using with people."
Office of Open Learning, development manager
519-824-4120, Ext. 53862