Leadership Skills For Women: How To Be Visible In The Business Arena | Barbara Alexander

Awareness and effective use of personal energy is something most women are never taught, yet it greatly impacts our lives and ultimate potential for success.

Jillian, a recent participant at a leadership development workshop for women, chose an equine experiential session with Cierba, a beautiful and powerful lead mare in the herd of horses.

Training to effectively “hear” and discern the non-verbal communication is the same kind of communication that prey animals have instinctively mastered in order to survive.

Jillian, a successful business woman in a highly demanding job, worked long hours and made significant contributions – but no matter how well she did, her future within the organization was limited.

Though she hadn’t been happy for a long time, she was deeply conflicted about stepping away from her career after all of the years of effort and personal accomplishment.

As time went on she shared that she didn’t feel valued for her contributions no matter how hard she worked, and that her life, both personally and professionally, felt like “a-runaway-train”.

It’s fascinating to observe interspecies facilitation and to realize how many of our blocks to business and personal success are tied to our own patterns of behavior.

In one of the sessions designed to access non-verbal energy, Jillian began to see her own default patterns emerge. She walked toward Cierba with the unspoken hope of touching her and feeling welcomed. She had seen this earlier with one of the other participants, but instead of a welcoming connection, Jillian received a flip of the tail and an unceremonious push as Cierba briskly walked past her leaving her behind.

Confused by Cierba’s actions Jillian stood there retracing her actions.

The experiential sessions with horses reflect our lives in ways we never expect and while one of the previous participants had a warm response, Jillian had a cold and disrespectful one.  “I can’t believe it, even with horses I’m invisible!”, she said out loud.

Later she shared that it was maddening to be part of a strategic planning team only to end up feeling like she was invisible. Where she had once felt inspired by the creativity of problem solving, she had a growing sense of apathy.

Throughout the process she learned about her own non-verbal energy and the effect she had on those around her by practicing with tools for her own personal modulation and emotional agility. These are common blocks especially for women. Becoming visible in the business arena is a learned skill and building confidence and clarity is essential.

Ninety percent of human communication is non-verbal and if our physical energy isn’t aligned with what we’re saying, our non-verbal communication speaks louder than our words and we may end up frustrated.

Jillian was about to learn what she needed to do to take herself to the next level.

Cierba stood sighing a heavy breath twenty feet away while Jillian was thinking about her work and how she often felt frustrated when she came up with ideas only to have someone else, mostly her competitive male peers, come up with the same idea just seconds later, receiving accolades as if she had never spoken.

Soon I noticed Cierba licking and chewing, a signal I look for during the equine sessions that means something significant between the human and the horse has shifted and created a relaxation response. In other words, an Aha moment.

In the next exercise Jillian was asked to make a plan and effectively execute it in the arena when something happened, or rather didn’t happen. In her execution of moves to reach the goal with Cierba, n o t h i n g  h a p p e n e d.

They both just stood there.

Jillian’s immediate realization was that while she was clear on her intention from the inside, the projection on the outside was not at all clear. The reaction of the horse left Jillian feeling a sense of rejection when Cierba didn’t respond. Jillian fell into a common trap of negative self-talk that she wasn’t enough, that she wasn’t even seen – thoughts she admitted experiencing many times at work.

Consequently Cierba would not recognize her as a leader because she wasn’t embodying the presence of one.

Jillian began to understand as she worked in very specific ways that built confidence in the use of her personal energy.  She shifted from her current energy and stance to a more upright, open and clear posture directly reflecting what was happening within her. As if on cue, Cierba began to step towards her from across the arena.

In clear contrast to the previous exercise, Cierba’s eyes were now soft and her ears gently forward, fully focused on Jillian. Cierba stopped respectfully within a couple feet of Jillian and dropped her head to reach out and touch.

“Oh my god, I feel it, I get it! Such a powerful lesson.”

We all felt the clarity of this non-verbal communication as we could see the difference in Jillian’s personal presence versus the earlier one. It was palpable all the way across the arena.

Improving her presence as a leader was not about leaving her career or even changing it, it was about mastering the skills of her own power through training in her own personal energy modulation, inner clarity, and effective communication both verbally and non-verbally.

You would be amazed at how the energy you carry affects your life both personally and professionally.

Learn more in our upcoming leadership programs at www.barbarainc.com