LEXINGTON, Ky. – Senior leaders, commanders and future commanders took part in the Executive Leaders Performance Course at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Creech Therapeutic Riding Center Dec. 1-2.
The Four Lenses training, resiliency training, and team-building event encouraged leaders to look inward to find out more about themselves and use that information to be better leaders.
Col. (Ret) Allen Boone, the resilience and risk reduction suicide prevention coordinator, said the course provides leaders an overview of the Kentucky Master Resiliency Trainer Program and effective communication skills to enhance performance.
“Originally, it was designed for all senior NCOs, warrant officers, and field grade to flag officers. However, we are integrating selected midgrade leaders to enhance performance and effectiveness throughout our ranks,” said Boone.
The goal is to ensure all Kentucky Guard Soldiers can bounce back from any form of adversity in life personally and professionally, so they are ready and resilient to handle all mission requirements effectively.
Part of the training on the first day of the course included interacting with the therapy horses made available by Central Kentucky Riding for Hope.
Toby Cross, program manager at Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, led that portion of the training and said she thought it was a productive exercise for those who volunteered to interact with the horses.
“By and large, horses are horses; it doesn’t matter where you’re at,” she said. “They will react the same way whether you are a four-star general or you are a fresh recruit. They don’t care about what you wear on your shoulder. They care about what you present to them.”
The Soldiers were asked to approach the horses and lead them around the arena. For some who approached with calm confidence, the horse would let them lead them around the arena. If the horses perceived they were nervous or had too much aggressive energy, they would pull back and fight that person trying to lead them.
“They (the horses) want to be with humans, to be in a situation where they can be safe and protected,” added Cross. “Using those two pieces, you can put people in a situation where they can challenge their emotional regulation and energy. They can think about what they project out into the world and become aware of it. That horse is going to give them immediate feedback.”
Besides interacting with the horses to see how their leadership actions were perceived, the class took a Value in Action Character Strengths survey.
Boone and 2nd Lt. Brenton Abshire, resilience and wellness coordinator, brought in John Walker, the master resilience training (MRT) expert from Fort Knox, to lead the course on resiliency.
“The MRT program is made for everyone to increase the Army’s Total Fitness model. For the leader’s course, we have two populations that we target as audiences: one being the company-level leadership team, such as squads and platoons, while the other is more for the executive level leadership battalion, brigade, state.”
Lt. Col. La’Shawna Waller, commander of the 1792d Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, said her most significant takeaway from the course was that leaders need to be reminded continuously that readiness is the result of a holistic approach.
“In order to accomplish any task at hand, our Soldiers and ourselves must be mentally, emotionally and spiritually sound and have the ability to exploit strengths within our formations and improve on those that are not as pronounced,” Waller said. “Physicality will not achieve success alone.”