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UAE: Meet the German expat who teaches leadership skills using horses

Equine coaching has played a key role in the personal development of leaders in the Middle East for centuries


Mazhar Farooqui

Published: Thu 27 Jan 2022, 9:18 AM

For centuries, kings and generals in their youth learned to gain the respect and trust of their horses before they were able to rule their people.

Nowhere was the trend more prevalent than in the Middle East, where horses played a key role in the personal development of leaders. The practice continues to this day.

Now, a German mother in Dubai is using roaming horses to inculcate corporate leadership skills among the country's top managers.

Monica Kubik, who has a degree in economics, came to the UAE in 2006 and worked in the trade and exhibitions industry for a few years.

But in 2016, she found her true calling and founded equine-guided coaching programme called FeelQuest, which is described as a quest with horses where participants get back in touch with their feelings.

At FeelQuest, Kubik offers corporate sessions and team-building workshops with the herd of the Equestrian Association for People of Determination (EAPD) at the idyllic Desert Palm on Awir Road, which is located around five kilometres from Dragon Mart.

"Our equine-guided coaching (quest) helps participants get back in touch with their feelings (feel) and also brings out their human side," said Kubik, a certified horse-assisted leadership trainer herself.

"Managers need to show their human side and cultivate more empathy at the workplace to become great leaders. You can't be the old-style boss anymore. The ability to understand the needs of employees and being aware of their feelings is perhaps the most important management skill needed in today's workplace and that's where horses come in. They bring in the element of the unknown, which draws teams in to work together in problem-solving and communication."

Kubik said she uses the finely tuned non-verbal communication skills of horses to develop emotional intelligence in participants.

"Being social prey animals living in herd hierarchies, horses teach us life-lessons about collaboration, self-awareness, clear communication and about the impact we have on others.

"Because of their innate survival need to scan everything happening around them, these animals are constantly turned into their bodies. They notice even the smallest change in their environment. Nothing escapes their eyes," she added.

"When we enter their field, horses seek connection instinctively as they are always looking for natural, trustworthy leaders. Their reaction is always honest, immediate and unbiased, thus allowing us to see clearly who we really are, without feeling offended. A horse will hold up a mirror to your leadership style in ways you simply won't get from your team or your peers," she said.

She explained how observing the candid feedback helps get an accurate response about one's leadership abilities, correct distortions in self-perceptions and build upon learning styles.


"Participants apply what they learn in interactions with the horses to see immediate results, while also understanding how the findings apply within a business environment," she said. "You learn how to hear differently and intuitively respond to subtle dynamics as the activities are largely designed to represent the modern workplace environment," she added.

The participants don't have to mount the horse at any stage of the coaching. The learning experience takes place from the ground and involves a series of engaging activities and exercises that require individuals or teams to work with horses to achieve their goals.

"Participants discover how unspoken words affect not just those around them but also their own performance," said Kubik.

"Companies and individuals who have signed up for the leadership course have benefited immensely from improved communication, collaboration, cooperation and increased productivity," she added.

- mazhar@khaleejtimes.com

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