What can politicians, parents and other leaders learn from horses? Turns out, a lot!
For starters: the lessons include how to listen without judgment and respect differing opinions. And there's much more in this short episode with Jackie Stevenson, who provides leadership training sessions — with horses — at the ranch where she lives with her husband, Herb, four dogs, and six equine members of the Pebble Ledge Ranch herd.
Each training session has a human facilitator, in addition to Jackie, who guides the trainees in relating to the herd. One of the best facilitators, Jackie says, is Kathy Telban, who has spent a lot of time both in business and with horses, and is now running for city council in her community.
In this episode, Jackie makes it clear that the qualities that Kathy brings to her role as a facilitator are the same qualities that she will bring to public service.
Jackie also talks about politicians in general, and how some horse sense might help them better serve their constituencies.
To learn more about Jackie's leadership programs or to purchase her book, "Someday We'll Live Like Horses: Authentic Presence in Leadership and Life," please visit the Spirit of Leadership website, where you also can purchase a deck of very cool Horse Spirit Wisdom cards. Jackie's book is available on Amazon as well.
To learn more about Kathy Telban, please visit her campaign website.
This is Kate Jones. Thank you for listening to The Gale Hill Radio Hour!
The show is available in Apple and Google Podcasts, Spotify and other podcast directories. Also on Substack and YouTube; Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
[00:00:20.010] - Kate
Hello, and welcome to The Gale Hill Radio Hour. I'm your host Kate Jones, here with a short episode about leadership. My guest today is Jackie Stevenson, who I had the pleasure of meeting thanks to a previous guest, Kathy Telban. Kathy is an outcome strategist and business coach who's running for city council in her city. Jackie is an enthusiastic supporter of Kathy's run for public office. That's because she has seen Kathy in action as a facilitator, working with both humans and horses. Jackie is the founder and CEO of Spirit of Leadership at Pebble Ledge Ranch, where she provides leadership training with the help of six resident horses, along with a human facilitator. Kathy is very good at being the facilitator in those training sessions, Jackie says. In this episode, Jackie explains how that relates to politics. Welcome to the show, Jackie.
[00:01:23.690] - Jackie
Well, thank you, Kate, for the invitation.
[00:01:26.650] - Kate
First of all, what can horses teach politicians? I'm curious about that.
[00:01:32.350] - Jackie
That's a great question. I'm going to shift it a little bit, though, and say, what can politicians learn from horses? Because we often think of what can I teach rather than what can I learn? And I know some of you have heard of horse whispering, people that can communicate with horses. But what I've learned in working with the horses is actually it's the horses that are the whisperers. And that what it's up to us to do is to learn to listen. So I think one of the things that politicians could learn from horses, and I think it's really an important skill, not only for politicians, but for leaders, for parents, for those of us that are interested in having quality relationships, is how can we learn to listen? And horses listen in a very particular way. They listen without judgment, and they listen not only to what is spoken, but the intention behind it, the energy behind it, the body language. How do we embody what is our presence and what does our presence communicate that's so good?
[00:02:39.960] - Kate
So it's not just the words, it's just everything that goes around the words.
[00:02:45.450] - Jackie
It's a whole embodied experience. It's a whole personal experience. And so if we as politicians can learn that what's really important is to listen with respect to differences, listen with respect to opinions that may be different than what we believe in … How do we listen with trust? How can we be trustworthy? How can we listen and then behave with integrity to what we hear? And how do we create positive relationships? So I think when we work with the horses, we start with creating respectful relationships with a being that's very different from us, and then seeing if we could create trust from respect and respect to a positive relationship. And that allows us to bring forward the best of our humanity. So horses can help us to not be horses, but to be more human.
[00:03:50.810] - Kate
That is so wonderful. So if politicians learn this from this, if they receive this bit of horse wisdom and perhaps integrate it into themselves, how could that benefit the public?
[00:04:08.910] - Jackie
Well, I think that one of the things that we're all interested in is to have a better world, have better relationships. And one of the things that horses have well, horses have been around for 65 million years, their same DNA. And one of the reasons they have lived so long, I believe, is that they live in harmony with themselves, that they make peace with who they are, and they accept themselves for who we are. And they also accept the other horse starting where they are. They don't judge, they don't criticize. They just accept and get curious and interested in who that other horse is. And so they can find a way to find harmony between them, and they live in harmony with their environment. And so if we could learn more about being at peace with ourselves, being at peace with each other, and also being more at peace with our environment, making better decisions for our world, the nature, the earth herself, we would probably all benefit.
[00:05:15.910] - Kate
For Kathy Telban, specifically, how does her ability to be a good facilitator between horses and humans relate to her being a good public servant?
[00:05:28.970] - Jackie
Well, I think that when we think about facilitation, we think about guiding, we think about how can we create the best conditions for success? And I think Kathy really looks at how can she help people and their organizations, their communities, create the best possible environment for success. I think the other thing is that she's very optimistic. Horses are also very optimistic. They're never looking over their shoulder with regret about where they thought they ought to be. They look at where's the very next best place to be, where's greener grass, a buddy, a safe place to be. And I think that's what Kathy is. She looks forward. She looks forward with optimism to what's the next best place for us to be. She meets people where they are and helps them and their communities get to the next best place.
[00:06:21.530] - Kate
That is terrific. That's who you want representing you, right?
[00:06:25.450] - Jackie
Absolutely true. And you want somebody that can listen. So I really watched Kathy in many of the times that she's been here, listen to the horses, listen to the group, listen to the individual, and then respond with maybe something like if it's something that she feels is not working really well, she might say, can you help me understand how you think about that? Can you help me understand how you feel about that? Can you help me understand? And I think when we are interested in what really is going on with that person and that they realize that we are interested in understanding them from their point of view, we can bridge a lot of differences. So I've watched Kathy bridge many differences with that question, can you help me understand.
[00:07:18.810] - Kate
Great approach. Is there anything else you'd like to say about Kathy?
[00:07:24.690] - Jackie
Well, one of the things that we had the privilege to do was to be part of a study for a woman's dissertation in the Weatherhead School of Management in her PhD. And she was curious about these programs with leadership and horses and what makes the difference when it's successful. And she found two things. One is that taking people out of their normal environment and into a place where they can appreciate quiet, can appreciate a slower pace of life, can appreciate an unfamiliar place, helps them get out of a familiar way of pattern of thinking, and they can be more expansive. But the other thing they found, which was even more important, was the quality of the facilitation. That the quality of the relationship between the person and who they were guiding with the horses made all the difference. So just like with the horses, if the facilitator is respectful, a politician is respectful, if they can create trust, and if they can create a positive environment for dialogue, then the person really can learn and to become a better leader. And so I think those are the kind of things that I saw Kathy guide with the horses.
[00:08:55.680] - Jackie
And I think it's just who she is. And she brings that to her work with people, to organizations, to her work as a consultant. And I think she brings it as she will successfully bring it as someone in city council.
[00:09:11.400] - Kate
We need leaders like that, for sure.
[00:09:13.650] - Jackie
Yeah, we need some leaders with common sense and maybe a little bit of horse sense as well. X
[00:09:21.490] - Kate
Well, thank you, Jackie. This has been wonderful. And it is a pleasure getting to know you.
[00:09:28.220] - Jackie
Well, thank you. Likewise.
[00:09:30.470] - Kate
This is Kate Jones with The Gale Hill Radio Hour. Until next time. Thanks for joining us. Please share this episode with anyone who's curious about getting some horse wisdom into politics.