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25 May

Mark Carr - Lessons From the Climb - Part 4/4

Jambo Everyone "Hello in (Swahili)"!

Welcome to my last blog on climbing and leadership. People would be really surprised at how many meetings occur on a high altitude climbing expedition. When I climbed Aconcagua (the highest mountain in South America at 22,000 feet), I flew into Mendoza, Argentina and landed in the morning. We had our very first meeting that night with our guides to do an equipment review. The guides sorted out all our equipment and made sure we had everything that we needed for the two week climb. Everything that we didn’t have we purchased or rented the next day. We met every day after that throughout the entire climb, covering the day’s logistics, weather, instructions on whether we would be roped that day, or use crampons that day etc., and I was very impressed at how the guides conducted the meetings.

In fact, I have patterned my own corporate meetings with teams after the way I saw the guides conduct their meetings. Climbing meetings are brief, with a clearly defined agenda. The meeting leaders (guides) were always on time, well prepared and had specifically defined results for each day. They focused on positive dynamics and made sure that everyone was involved, and any concerns or issues were brought up and addressed. In other words, they created the kind of meeting environment where everyone felt secure enough to speak up, because on a mountain that could mean life or death. They kept the meetings short, and when everything was covered the meeting quickly ended and we were ready to start the day.

Lastly, I would like to share with you some other snippet’s concerning climbing, leadership and life:

  • Climbing teaches you that you cannot control what life gives you, only how your respond. Adapt and keep going. Resiliency is key.
  • Be proactive instead of reactive.
  • Two points make a straight line, act on trends swiftly.
  • Effective leaders play hard to win, but they know their values. They know when they cross a boundary and are willing to step back when approaching that boundary.
  • They create the vision, co-develop the strategy and get the heck out of the way of great people.
  • They create a diverse team, and enjoy the creative benefits while accepting the leadership challenges.
  • They demand full participation from everyone on the team while respecting their style.
  • They are visible to all levels of the organization on a regular basis.
  • They give active and honest feedback which is a measure of how much they care about their employees.
  • They hire people better than themselves.

The final lesson that I learned from climbing, is that we focus too much on the end point (the summit) and not on the journey. The value comes in the journey!!!

That's all for now folks. Thank you for reading! Make sure you listen to the podcast as well.