This book is about being a great leader.
Alison Levine shares his impressions of entrepreneurship and mountaineering to illustrate that all great leaders share some similarities.
Alison Levine works at Coach K Center on Leadership & Ethics at Duke University. She climbed the highest mountain on every continent, becoming the leader of the first American women’s expedition to Everest, and visited both poles. In addition, Levine worked at Wall Street as a Goldman Sachs partner.
This book is available as:
Learn How to Apply Extreme Adventure Leadership Principles to Your Business.
What is common between the leader of the company and the leader of the team climbing Mount Everest. Everest?
Actually, everything, according to Alison Levine.
In this book, you will learn how the principles of leadership used in sports and mountaineering can be applied in modern business. Both situations require managers to make important decisions in conditions that are far from perfect.
You will find out
- how sleep deprivation practices can help you in crisis situations;
- why employees with experience, knowledge, and ego are preferred;
- how complacency can kill you.
The Leader Must Understand the Need to Empower Each Member of the Team
Unable to accept the challenge, you will never feel good. You will always look back with the thought that everything would have gone differently if you had only been more prepared. Therefore, when a team is faced with a problem, its leader must be very prepared.
As a team leader, you should always be in great shape. You are obliged because everyone will expect more from you than from others. Therefore, leaders must do everything at the highest level, both physically and psychologically. It means a lot of things.
For example, you need to prepare for the fact that you will not have the opportunity to sleep. You never know when you will have to face a crisis and not sleep all night. This is always true: whether you are conducting an expedition to Everest, or a team of programmers in a company. If you, as a leader, are annoyed by something as insignificant as fatigue, this will affect both you and the team badly.
So it’s a good idea to sometimes practice unforeseen situations.
Good leaders also understand that it is their responsibility to educate leaders in others. They should allow team members to take on new responsibilities so that they grow. It is a leadership that encourages teams to work more efficiently and also prepares them for the worst-case scenarios. It can be a matter of life or death in a place like the Himalayas. Leaders should prepare their teams so well that they are qualified enough to move forward even without a leader. Leadership skills are necessary, so you should never stop developing them.
Leaders Must Wisely Choose Their Team, Looking at Experience, Knowledge and Healthy Selfishness
In extreme conditions, it is important that each team member works in such a way as to guarantee success. And if someone starts to behave badly, there are no guides on employee behavior, where you can learn how to deal with them! This means that leaders must choose their team members very wisely.
On a climbing expedition where teams are in danger daily, climbers literally entrust their life into the hands of their partner. You have already received quite uncontrollable factors on the top of the mountain – you do not need problems with coordinating the work of the group! In the most dangerous situations, this kind of trouble can even be fatal.
In a business environment, the dynamics of a worthy team can make the difference between winning or losing market share. Whether you are engaged in sports or business, it is very important to choose the right members of your team. When you are looking for new partners – look for people with experience, knowledge and healthy selfishness. When you are on a mountain, you don’t need people who are just fun and easy to gather. You need certain survival skills to succeed in this environment. You must find people with these skills and experience.
Your team members must also have a high ego performance. This means that they must have confidence in their abilities in order to be ready to solve complex problems. It is also important that your team members not only want to rise but also be part of the team. You need people who are proud to work together and take care of each other. In a strong team, each member cares about helping others as much as he cares about himself.
Team Leaders Must Build Strong Partnerships With Other Teams.
Whether you’re in the mountains or the office, other teams can be of great help to you if things go wrong. In fact, perhaps you even need them.
Collaboration is always a critical success. In business, it is quite rare for a team to work independently, without collaborating with other teams in the same organization. Different departments must rely on each other, moving toward a specific goal.
Engineering departments, for example, typically rely on research and development to optimize their manufacturing processes. The same is true for expeditionary teams. Individual teams must coordinate their climbs when they are walking along the same mountain to make sure that the route is not crowded. Team leaders must clearly interact with each other so that each team had every chance of success.
Effective collaboration is also vital to maintaining security. In very dangerous situations, climbers must be prepared to make contact with other teams too. Strong relationships can save lives in the most critical situations. Things can fail unexpectedly, which will become stressful even for the most trained teams. You never know when a rope can break and a person can fall. You will be much safer when you can count on other people on the part of your team in the event of an emergency. You cannot take people you are not sure about on an expedition.
It is very important to strengthen relationships with other teams. If other teams know you, your team is much less likely to go unnoticed if it goes missing. If you need to call for help, employees are the best chance you can get, because people are more likely to help others if they are from this team.
So, whether you are climbing a real or metaphorical mountain, strong partnerships are critical to success.
Self-confidence Can Be Deadly, and Dexterity is the Key to Avoiding It.
Dangerous situations are often the result of people not responding to changes around them.
When things go well, we run the risk of becoming complacent. In some cases, this can be deadly.
Sherpas are local mountain climbing guides. Everest may become their victim. They can become self-confident in a dangerous area because they are familiar with it, which led to incidents with those who did not take proper precautions.
In 2012, a climber named Namgyal Tshering Sherpa died tragically when he fell into a crack. He did not attach a safety rope that could save his life. Self-confidence can lead people to risky behavior because they have a past.
It’s easy to become self-confident when risk turns into a routine. Complacency can be so dangerous that managers need to keep an eye on it. The key to avoiding self-confidence is dexterity.
In the mountains, you must move fast and remain alert. You must be prepared to respond to environmental changes. This kind of agility increases your chances of survival. And this applies not only to adventurers who may fall prey to self-confidence – business will also suffer if they do not adapt to environmental changes.
This happened with the manufacturer of BlackBerry smartphones. In 2008, the company was valued at $ 80 billion. By 2012, this figure fell below $ 5 billion. Why? BlackBerry could not adapt to changes in the smartphone market. They did not expect such popularity of touch screens, and their business model was not flexible enough to adapt to changes in consumer behavior.
You Never Know What Can Change at One Moment, Whether in Business or in the Mountains. It is Vital to Always Be Prepared for Change.
Good leaders allow employees to feel valued members of the team and help them compensate for any shortcomings.
In extreme situations, the way you communicate with the weakest link in your team can make the difference between success and failure.
In business, you often have to work with people – less experienced or capable than you. In mountaineering teams, participants certainly have different physical abilities. In any case, when faced with the weaknesses of team members, most managers will simply try to cure them. But this is not the best approach, however. Why?
Because there is a possibility that their weakness cannot be cured quickly. You can change the attitude to work, but some restrictions cannot be overcome, such as height, speed or a special way in which our brain processes information, for example. Good leaders know their duty is to help team members become productive, so everyone wins.
This does not necessarily mean eliminating their shortcomings.
Instead, focus on compensating for weaknesses. Alison Levine learned about this when she took part in a long-distance ski expedition in the Antarctic. Levine’s short legs couldn’t carry her as fast as her teammates, so she was the slowest in the group. Team leaders compensated for her weakness, instead of trying to overcome her, they told others that Levine was too big weight, and some of them must take part of her baggage with food in order to distribute the weight more evenly.
This decision led her to emotional well-being. They did not blame her for her weaknesses, which would make her feel even worse. When they asked other team members for help, they also worked on the task together. This solved the problem, and brought them together as a team.
Managers Must Ensure That Their Team Members Are Properly Equipped.
When you accept the challenge, no matter what it is, you are always responsible for your own preparation. The leadership team, however, is doubly responsible.
Leaders must know what tools are needed to get a job. Even if you have the skills, you will not be able to work without the necessary equipment.
Germany learned this lesson in June 1941, when they invaded the Soviet Union. They had millions of armed soldiers and thousands of tanks and horses, but they did not have enough warm clothes for the winter and the right tools to keep their equipment in the cold. Most historians agree that this was the main reason. of why the German attack failed: they simply did not “pack up”. So even if you have people and enough money, you will not achieve your goals without the proper equipment.
Managers need to know what skills and tools are needed to get a job. Leaders must also ensure that their team is properly equipped. Not having the right equipment can be dangerous. Levine realized this when she climbed the Karstensen pyramids – the highest peak in Oceania. She underestimated the time it took to get to the top, so she had to climb back down in the dark.
She did not have a working light, so she could not see anything during the descent. She risked her life without being prepared. So if you think that you cannot afford all the equipment you need, ask yourself if you can afford not to have it. Also, remember that even if one team member does not have the necessary equipment, this can affect the team as a whole. Leaders must be sure that everyone is ready.
Good Leaders Show Their Team That They Care About Her and Take the Time to Get to Know Her Better.
Do not underestimate the importance of respect and kindness towards each other, especially when it comes to achieving a goal. When you treat people well, they usually reciprocate.
Good leaders show their team that they care about it. It doesn’t matter if you are the leader of an expedition or a software development team – your team should know that it is important to you. You will receive trust and respect automatically – you must earn it.
Mark Zuckerberg, for example, keeps his team at the center of the shared workspace on Facebook. He works with his employees and sends them messages that they are all working on the same thing. Leaders lead their teams towards the goal, so they need to know the people they lead.
When you take the time to get to know your team, you show your employees how important they are to you. One good way to do this is to find out what is important to them, about their families, hobbies, interests outside work or hopes for the future. These interactions will lay the foundation for strong communication. When you truly recognize your team, you will also have the opportunity to evaluate your abilities. A person who likes to be part of a large family, for example, probably wants more to socialize and solve problems together.
You must approach each person individually when it comes to help, and speak at your best. The more you know about them, the more influence you have as a leader.
Leaders Must Break the Rules When Necessary
In general, the rules exist for a reason. But I do not think that these laws are so strict that you must blindly follow them. Instead, use norms as guidelines.
Sometimes great things can happen when you break the rules. This happened to soldier Channing Moss when his platoon was on patrol in southeastern Afghanistan in 2006. Grenade launchers (RPGs) hit Moss’s convoy. An unexploded RPG entered Moss’s body, essentially turning it into a human bomb. The standard procedure for resolving
this situation would be to throw a bag of sand at it in a safe place. Fortunately, the medical team decided not to abide by the rules. Moss was taken to the medical center, and the explosive device was removed – at the risk and peril of medical personnel. The procedure was successful, and Moss was saved.
In such extreme situations, leaders must make decisions that will help everyone move toward the best results. This often requires breaking the rules. In fact, just automatically following the rules can be harmful.
In 2011, for example, a parade was planned at Shelter Island in New York to honor a soldier named Joseph Seinert who died in Afghanistan. American flags were posted on power poles along the parade route. LIPA, local communal
the enterprise issued a permit for hanging flags to the city, because there was a rule to charge for the use of poles. The check amount amounted to a total of $ 23. When the story hit the national news, LIPA had serious problems, faced with widespread outrage. So, there are times when it is absurd to follow the rules. Leaders need to know this difference.
Companies Need a Creed, Like Their Leaders
Our actions say a lot about who we are. Therefore, we should all have a creed – a set of keywords that reminds us of how to behave in our professional and personal lives.
Companies also need a creed. Leaders cannot be everywhere at once, so they must believe in their team’s ability to do the right thing, even when they don’t follow it.
Verizon, for example, has a credo built around words: honesty, respect, performance, excellence and responsibility. If a company has a set of guidelines, then its employees will be able to make more informed decisions in difficult situations. A leader can build his personality by making conscious efforts to demonstrate credo. As a leader, you need to know what you are and what you value most. So what is your credo?
How do you want people to describe you?
Credo Levine: “Count on me.” She strives to be the one whom team members turn to when they need help. A credo like hers can help you become a great leader as you really want to be. Remember, however, that having a credo is not just writing a few sonorous words.
It is taking action and living participation of these words in your life every day.
When you live in harmony with your creed, you can gain the trust and loyalty of your team members. They will know what to expect from you. So do not forget to demonstrate your leadership philosophy daily!
Your credo will also help you stay true to yourself and your beliefs even in extreme circumstances. Physical or mental stress can threaten your values, but your credo will remind you of who you want to be.
The Final Words
The leadership principles that apply to extreme sports are also applicable to today’s extreme business conditions. Both environments require teams to be prepared for sudden, unforeseen high-risk situations. So be prepared, take care of your team members individually and inspire them to become leaders themselves.
Do not try to eliminate all shortcomings. Remember that some shortcomings simply cannot be fixed. Compensate for the flaws, not try to suppress them. This will allow team members to show most of their advantages, and get around any failures.
Why You Should Read “On The Edge”
- To become a great leader;
- To learn more about running a business or mount climbing;
- To help others show their best.
This book is available as: