Summary: The mountains serve as an ideal laboratory to test and enhance leadership effectiveness. The challenges presented by the terrain offer valuable lessons that can be applied to our corporate lives when leading and working within teams. These lessons are portable and transferable, equipping us with the skills necessary to thrive in professional settings.
During our expedition to conquer Colorado’s most challenging Fourteener (there are 58 peaks in Colorado over 14,000+ feet), we uncovered valuable leadership insights that apply to tackling complexity and overcoming workplace challenges.
Our journey began with a fundamental question:Team “Quest for 58 summits”
How can we avoid unnecessary risks AND accomplish our goal (the summit)?
The leadership effectiveness laboratory
As we ascended and descended the mountain, carefully selecting our routes through granite blocks and treacherous ledges, we prioritized paths with minimal resistance and exposure, steering clear of perilous 700-900-foot drops.
We consciously chose to stay closely connected, embracing the philosophy that unity propels us further than individual speed.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
To minimize danger and potential falls, we maintained constant communication.
“This rock is loose. Step here instead.”
We learned from our mistakes and swiftly integrated those lessons.
“That approach didn’t work. Don’t follow me here. Try that over there.”
Leadership was shared among peers, fluidly transitioning between leading and following roles. “You lead the way through these broken blocks and ledges. I’ll follow.”
We broke down the immense complexity of the challenge into manageable steps and celebrated milestones along the way. “Once we’re at the top of the pass, we have the snowfield to K2. To the top of K2 and down, then the knife edge ridge.”
We relied heavily on the strength of our trust-based relationships cultivated over many years. “I trust your judgment. It’s your call.”
We recognized that relying solely on logic was insufficient; trusting our gut feelings and intuition was essential. Intuition is a vital channel for detecting threats. “That doesn’t feel right.” (It turned out it led to a 500-foot cliff face.)
We discovered that sometimes, retracing our steps is faster than forging ahead.
“Let’s go back there and start again.”
We embraced moments of pause, engaging in quick reflection assessments to lower our heart rates, clear the rush of adrenaline and stress hormones, and enable smart decision-making. “Okay, now I’m ready to begin again.”
Here are the set of practices that your team can adopt:
- Optimize effectiveness by prioritizing unity over speed.
- Maintain constant communication through frequent small interactions.
- Swiftly integrate real-time learnings from mistakes.
- Adapt the leadership model to fit the challenges, strengths, and readiness of the team.
- Break down overwhelming complexity into manageable parts.
- Place significant reliance on trust-based relationships built over time.
- Acknowledge and listen to intuition and gut feelings.
- Recognize that retracing steps can be more efficient than forging ahead.
- Embrace moments of pause to recharge and enhance decision-making capabilities.
These leadership practices will enhance your joy and exhilaration of achieving more summits together.
This is good for you.
Keep going, friends,