Agility: The Most Sought-After Soft Skill of 2023

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In a time where most hard skills can be taught in an online Udemy or Coursera course or even via a Youtube playlist, companies are looking towards acquiring talent with soft skills and cultivating those skills in their current employees. One of the most important of those skills is agility.

Agility is the ability to move, think, and understand quickly. Being agile and nimble requires balance, coordination, speed, and endurance.

Horses are agile creatures. We observe their ability to navigate rough terrain, seek water in a drought and pick over grasses that do not taste the best and this is an innate part of their being. Looking closer at the components of agility, we can see what horses have to teach us about ways we can change our companies and organizations:

Horses demonstrate balance by being in the present. It does not benefit them to harp on the past or have their eyes set too far into the future. In order to navigate their uncertain environments, the lead mare has mastered the ability to set direction and adjust this direction based on the information provided by her herd. When thinking critically about balance in your team, ask “What are we noticing within ourselves, our team, and our environment? What course corrections to our direction need to be made?”

Coordination requires constant communication that is open to feedback and acknowledgment of what your team is noticing or concerned about. Horses are able to move together in large herds by having constant communication about what is present, whose strengths are needed, and who needs to be protected– they don’t wait to attend 3-day retreats to have these discussions. Ask, “Who needs to be involved in our collective, coordinated movement?”

We have an analogy at TeachingHorse that says “When horses in California see smoke, what is it likely? – A wildfire. When horses in North Carolina see smoke, what is it likely? – A barbecue.” The speed and discernment with which you approach problems in your organization indicate your ability to be agile in the marketplace. 

In the Diamond Model of Shared Leadership, we share how energy affects the herd and is often influenced by the role of the lead stallion. The lead stallion has the most perspective, protects the herd from threats, and sets the pace of the herd. 

In cultures of shared leadership, endurance is achieved through constant communication about capacity and rest. Horses value rest and energy conservation because that is what is required for navigating uncertainty long-term. How well-equipped is your organization to endure uncertainty? This is an opportunity to discuss with your team, “How can we develop supportive infrastructure that sets an appropriate pace for long-term growth/innovation/advancement?”

TeachingHorse is having these same conversations. Our agility is in the form of productizing, researching our clients’ industries, and cultivating our current herd. We are expanding our core in-person experiences to be supported by asynchronous, blended learning and our team of certified facilitators has grown nationwide. From the barn to the boardroom, we are ready to support executive and high-potential leaders in 2023


Abriana is the Creative Director of Teaching Horse, LLC. She spends her days navigating brand and product development to support today’s leaders via equine experiential leadership development. 

Categories: Insights