Sodexo: Emotional intelligence in theory and in action


LeadChange combined the coaching with horses (equine facilitated learning) with the scientific rigor of the PSI EIP3 Emotional Intelligence Profile to create a powerful learning experience that developed Emotional Intelligence.  Leaders were able to explore the theory of emotional intelligence and immediately put their learning into practise, receiving personal feedback and committing to business linked leadership actions – this memorable learning approach is still being talked about nearly 2 years later.


Sodexo were looking for an innovative and impactful way to enhance learning on their Advance Senior Managers Programme.  The operating context for their leaders meant they were dealing with a lot of change and a very competitive marketplace.  The programme aimed to increase impact, influencing skills and personal resilience to manage complexity and drive change; increase self-awareness (Emotional Intelligence) and leadership effectiveness; and encourage collaborative leadership skills and broaden internal networks.


They initially selected LeadChange for our strong experiential learning expertise, however, after understanding the overall aims of the programme, they drew on our psychological capability to create a solution that combined experiential learning, Emotional Intelligence theory and a psychometric tool.

As chartered psychologists we were able to select from a number of insight tools, we chose the Emotional Intelligence Profile (JCA) – a scientifically validated self-assessment questionnaire that has been shown to improve performance.  The programme layered a theoretical understanding of emotional intelligence, individual feedback on their EI capability via the profile, and feedback from the horses on how they demonstrated emotional intelligence in practise.  This accelerated learning cycle allowed participants to explore theory in action and make tangible action plans.  We ensured our solutions aligned closely with the wider programme by integrating Sodexo values and managerial behaviours, and designing opportunities to enhance collaborative leadership skills and broaden internal networks.


All the leaders identified EI Actions specific to the Sodexo Managerial Behaviours. They gained:

  • Non-judgemental feedback on ‘How they show up’ linked to their EI effectiveness
  • Greater confidence and self-belief
  • Enhanced presence and impact through heighted self-awareness of feelings and thinking
  • Insights into the impact of their attitudes (Self Regard and Regards for Other)

As a group they committed to collaborating now, and beyond the programme, to continue to grow as individuals and to further develop our effectiveness leaders in Sodexo. They identified multiple collaboration channels and agreed a charter of behaviours against which to rate they effectiveness as a group.

Client Quotes

“I was amazed how closely my experience with the horses reflected my EI report, it was like the horse had read it!”

“I came away with real insight into the areas that would increase my leadership effectiveness, and tangible actions to how I would do it”

PZ Cussons Case Study
An Integrated Approach to Leadership Development

PZ Cussons Case Study

An Integrated Approach to Leadership Development

This award-winning leadership programme was developed for PZ Cussons who have business units operating throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. The company has a commitment to developing local talent. The corporate HQ commissioned the programme to develop leaders across the business and help cement the culture of the company in its satellites.

The programme, which is ongoing, has already been delivered to more than 300 delegates. The programme Delegates completed 360-degree feedback prior to the workshops and were sent a pre-workshop pack outlining the programme and containing a framework to:

  • explore personal values
  • identify 3 areas of the 360 that will give the biggest performance uplift
  • identify the 3 biggest/most critical people challenges they currently face
  • create a picture of how they would like to be seen as a leader
  • analyse their communication style and personal drivers

Workshops were rolled out across the geographical areas in which the business operates, with workshop modules delivered over four days.

LeadChange delivered the highly experiential part of the programme, working with horses. The sensitivity of horses to intention and energy provides instant feedback to the delegates. Hesitancy, lack of purpose, focus or commitment are all perceived by the horses as lack of leadership. Delegates were coached to change their beliefs, intentions, behaviour etc., creating a different response in the horses, which then co-operated and followed.

A team of professional actors combined theory sessions with communications coaching (personal impact), engaging delegates in ‘presence’ and voice work. As skilled actors, they adopt the persona of challenging people in the client organisation, coaching the delegates to practice difficult conversations (the actors slip out of character and into coaching mode to help delegates reframe and experiment with different approaches).

CECO (Corporate and Executive Coaching Organisation) facilitated sessions that underpin the whole of the programme – incorporating leadership theory, coaching skills practice, exploration of individual and corporate values, and development of an individual competency matrix based on the organisation’s core competencies.

During the four days delegates received 1:1 coaching on work-related issues.

All sessions were conducted in English, although this was a second language for many of the delegates in this organisation. The practical sessions with the horses were particularly useful for these people, as it is a ‘felt’ experience, which they could easily relate to what was happening for them in the workplace.

Delegates expressed great enthusiasm for the programme. Many felt that the four-day format allowed time to explore issues in depth and reflect on them before returning to the workplace. The format also allowed time for hands-on practice (e.g. of coaching skills). In their feedback, many delegates identified the experiential sessions with the horses as a highlight of the programme.

IDEXX Case Study, Maine USA
Equine insights to develop senior talent

IDEXX Case Study, Maine USA

Equine insights to develop senior talent


IDEXX sought a learning partner for their Altitude Leadership Talent Programme. They were looking for an innovative way to engage participants to develop greater self-awareness, build trust and create a strong leadership culture across the organisation.  As an organisation that aims to enhance the health and well-being of pets, people, and livestock there was a very clear alignment to LeadChange, and our mission to help people thrive in their environment and to promote positive horse – human relationships. LeadChange has now partnered with IDEXX for 5 + years to deliver a learning experience as part of their programme in the Portland, USA.


The solution combines learning with horses alongside a session where participants explore Insights Profiles. Completing activities with the horses, participants get instant, honest, non-judgmental feedback on how they ‘show up’ as individuals, and how effectively they collaborate with one another. We link their Insights Profiles to their behaviour ‘in the moment’, supporting them to safely try different strategies to maximise their impact.  Participants gain insight into how they are perceived which helps them work on their leadership brand. They also explore the importance of alignment and communication which relates directly to the efficiency of their business projects.

IDEXX contributes to the health and quality of life in the communities where they do business.  As part of this aim the programme connects leaders with young people in need in the local community. They also sponsored a HorseHeard programme for the group. HorseHeard, is a LeadChange charity that runs equine learning programmes for young people and adults in need to promote positive mental health and well-being.


The client sums up the LeadChange solution as “a practical way to bring self-awareness, that challenges leaders and creates a sense of humbleness”.

Participant’s learning includes:

  • Add emotion to communication “what do I want people to feel as a result of what I say”
  • Recognition and praise matters “more than 0 seconds”
  • Relax into the team “move from doing to being”

Overall outcomes include:

  • Greater self-awareness
  • Improved presence and personal brand
  • Increased alignment across project teams
  • Improved communication across project teams.

Client Quotes

“An incredible experience with real value for my approach to leadership.”

“The Equine learning was surprisingly insightful. It provided a great learning framework and got us all outside our comfort zone. The facilitators were great at reinforcing the learnings and concepts.”


How horses changed my leadership

How horses changed my leadership

By Richard Lambert, CEO, National Landlords’ Association
June 2019


Non-verbal communication is massively important. The horse gives instant, unbiased, non-judgemental responses to the non-verbal signals you give. Your attitude, energy and body language need to reflect your words and intentions if you are to get the response you need.

What was good about their session? What were your key take outs?

It was completely different to anything I have done, and I was prepared to think it was ridiculous (my wife had done something similar learning to herd geese and said that they only thing she learned from it was that geese are really difficult to herd). The strength of the approach is to ensure that all the practical activities are clearly tied into business psychology and to show how it relates to everyday working life.

The whole session is a metaphor for how people approach leadership and working with others. It is not enough simply to direct; you have to model the behaviours, attitudes and approaches that will create the responses in others.

How have you applied it back at the office (if you did)? What were the benefits?

I have been more conscious of how I need to be seen by the whole team. We were in the process of trying to lead a culture change through the organisational leaders modelling behaviours and attitudes. This session reinforced that message, and reminded me that I need to be doing that more than anyone. It encouraged me to draw more on the energy and support from the team around me, rather than expecting that I had to rely on my own resources. It also reinforced the importance of authenticity, and I have been more aware of the need to bring a bit more of my wider self into being the CEO – letting everyone see the football scarf and the band T-shirts under the suit.

My Leadership Team colleagues mocked the idea of me spending a day doing this before I went, but they all separately remarked on the change in my demeanour and energy in the week after, as did my wife and counsellor. I had been going through a difficult period personally following several close family bereavements, and this seemed to move something inside me, becoming the start of the real recovery phase.

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