NEWS | Dec. 9, 2021

Kentucky Guardsmen participate in leader’s course

By Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Crane Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

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 two-day, course-integrated, Four Lenses training, resiliency training, and team- building event is designed to make leaders look inward to find out more about themselves, and use that information to be better leaders.

According to Col. (Ret) Allen Boone, the Resilience and Risk Reduction Suicide Prevention Coordinator (R3SP), the Executive Leader Performance Course intends to teach leaders an overview of the Kentucky Master Resiliency Trainer Program and increase effective communications to enhance performance.

“Originally, it was designed for all senior NCO’s, 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 programs’ goal is to ensure all Kentucky Guard Soldiers can bounce back from any form of adversity overcoming all obstacles in life both personally and professionally. They want to build strong Soldiers who are ready and resilient to effectively handle all mission requirements.

Part of the training on the first day of the course included getting to interact with the therapy horses that were 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. Depending how each person approached the horses, the horses would respond to each in a different way. For some who approached with calm confidence, the horse would let them lead them around the arena. Others who were nervous or perceived by the horse to have 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.”

Beside interacting with the horses to see how their leadership actions were perceived, the class took a Value in Action (VIA) Character Strengths Survey that allowed them to see their strengths quantifiably.

To lead the course on the resiliency, Boone and 2nd Lt. Brenton Abshire Resilience and Wellness Coordinator, brought in John Walker, the Master Resilience Training expert from Fort Knox.

“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,” said Abshire.

For some who have taken the survey once before, it helped show growth within themselves.

“I have participated in Four Lenses as a junior company-grade officer. I have also participated in Myers-Brigg workshops as a field grade officer,” said Lt. Col. La'Shawna Waller, commander of the 1792rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. “I think this current opportunity allowed me to come full-circle. I was able to see how I have or have not evolved over the last several years. I also am able to see where I need to improve and how these various elements and strength synergize to make an effective team and also a better me. As a leader, it helps me identify ways I can leverage those strengths across my staff.”

She also talked about her most significant takeaway from the course.

“As leaders, we need to be continuously reminded that readiness is a result of a holistic approach,” said Waller. 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. Physicality will not achieve success alone.”

According to all the trainers conducting the course, this course was very successful with excellent participation from attendees. The leaders left this training more aware of themselves and others to create synergy to perform better personally and professionally.

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