The Leadership Whisperers

Bringing horse wisdom into the corporate world 

By Emma Taylor, The Leadership Whisperers

Throughout my 16-year corporate career I had large leadership development budgets but was increasingly frustrated that the learning never stuck and nothing really, truly changed in terms of behaviour when people returned to their offices.

I call myself the world’s slowest learner, as it took over 14 years before I finally realised that I learned all of my best leadership lessons around the horses and that my path was to integrate these two powerful forms of learning and to demonstrate to clients how horses can support leadership development in their business.

I worked as a human resources business partner in a variety of different businesses from high growth start-ups to large global organisations. My wealth of human resources experience and depth of understanding of the issues means I can engage with HR and business professionals to identify the impact of behaviours within a workplace and demonstrate how small adjustments and greater awareness can deliver genuine cultural and organisational change.

I was becoming increasingly frustrated that the learning never stuck and nothing really, truly changed 

in terms of behaviour when people  returned to their offices.

From the Boardroom to the Barn 

As a life long equestrian, at the end of each work day, I would leave the office and find my way to the stables to stand next to Hermi, my soul horse, a 17.1hh Clydesdale mare and for the first time that day felt a sense of calm, non-judgement, and alignment. Standing together, each in our own power, with a deep sense of strength and connection yet in full respect of the needs of each other.

I knew now was the time and there had to be a way to be combine the two pivotal elements of my life to bring about the sustainable behavioural change so desperately needed in the business world – both with the leadership arena, but also within the increasingly popular area of Wellbeing.

In parallel, I’ve also navigated my way through mental health challenges since the age of 16, horses were and still are a huge guiding light to me through this journey. As a proud Mental Health advocate, I firmly believe in owning your own challenges and modeling congruency through intent and actions, and clients have always been moved by my authenticity and powerful vulnerability in this area. For too long we have been told, as I was recently by a fellow practitioner, “Don’t admit you have mental health challenges to a client, it’s not corporate.” I disagree, now is the time for change.

When the time​​​​​ is right in life, you create and step into what is needed both for yourself and others with a greater sense of purpose.

Becoming a Leadership Whisperer

Having trained in the EAHAE methodology in 2012, and combining my other professional and personal areas of expertise, I have an in-depth understanding of horses and their psyche.  This knowledge enables me to demonstrate the parallels between equine herd behaviour and many societal and corporate environments.

Having worked as a sole practioner from 2012, and then as founding Direcotor of The Leadership Whisperers  in 2014, I have encountered a wide variety of corporate clients. As a natural entrepreneur with creativity and vision, I was then I was lucky enough to be selected for the prestigious Aston Small Business Growth programme in 2015 (run by Aston Business School), the culmination of which was to deliver a 3 Year Growth Plan “pitch” to the academic team, fellow peers, and a panel of external investors.

I felt strongly that I needed to role model stepping out of my comfort zone and bring the work we do right to where our corporate clients are and ask them to engage.  So the horses joined me to pitch in the city centre of Birmingham in the grounds of the Cathedral!

I particularly love to “walk my talk” and be bold and courageous and bring Live Events to corporate audiences. Here are a few examples of experiences the horses and I have brought to the corporate world:

  • In May 2016, we worked with Coventry University to create the first ever Virtual Reality footage of a Leadership with Horses session (spot the camera on Hermi’s head below!)
  • In February 2017, we took the horses to an HR Directors Conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham, so that potential clients could experience the work live throughout the exhibition.
  • In November 2017, at Your Horse Live – with 24,000 attendees over 2 days – we partnered with other equine-assisted learning practitioners to deliver Leadership with Horses Demonstrations, the first ever in this event.
Networking with Horses

After 19 years of guiding me, Hermi crossed the rainbow bridge this March. She was a pivotal part of my creation and delivery of the Networking With Horses program and attended almost all of the “Networking Neighs” meetings.

So what is Networking With Horses? Also known as Networking Neighs, the program began in 2013 after experiencing the deep level of disconnect and inauthenticity at many business networking events. I challenged myself to create a new model and environment through bringing the horses to share the space with us and create real conversation that could change our business environment.

At our Networking Neighs Breakfast Meetings we encourage participants to be authentic, to bring who you are and where you are and want to go with your business, and to truly connect with other businesses on an individual level in a unique environment. Participants interact with the horses to step up and challenge themselves and connect with others.

Spirit Horse Festival

Visiting New Zealand is the trip of a lifetime and I clearly set the intent that whilst making my journey, I would also like to reach out and share and connect with fellow practitioners as my international practice grows. I will bring Hermi’s energy, spirit and grounded wisdom with me to New Zealand when I share my model at the festival. I am excited to collaborate, learn, and co-create in order to create a greater global impact with this work – together we are stronger.

Emma Taylor of the The Leadership Whisperers (formed in 2014), helps senior leaders develop embodied leadership skills that have a profound impact in business.

With an extensive background in the business world, Emma provides her clients with a solid foundation for learning, where everything they learn is mapped back to real life situations and practical applications. 

Emma will be presenting with EAHAE colleague Lynn Jenkin on ways to network with horses in the session Role Play or Real Play.

Find out more about our presenters and what's in store for the 2018 festival program

  • December 11, 2017