4 Lessons Leaders can learn from Mountaineers

Leadership in organizations is a difficult cross to bear, with colleagues, employees, stakeholders and investors –everyone expecting the leader to be correct, all the time. There are difficult situations to face, every single day and leaders must face them alone – along with bearing the consequences. Failures or setbacks are the leader’s alone, while success & plaudits are supposed to be shared with the team.

Modern day CEOs need to be on their toes all the time – mentoring, running their daily schedule of tasks while keeping their eye on the larger picture – the vision and the goal of the company. That’s why busy entrepreneurs follow 5 time management tips to remain agile.

Inspiration, learning and insights can come from anywhere – and leaders must seek it from unconventional sources. Mountaineers are a tough, hardy and enduring bred – and there is much that leaders can learn from them. The times call for this trait, precisely –

Overcoming Fear and using it as a Stepping stone

No one said Mountaineering is safe – far from it. The cliffs are steep, the holds are few, and the peaks are almost unsurmountable – with cold winds howling and sweeping the terrain. These are just a few of the deadly dangers mountaineers have to face. But – once they overcome these obstacles, the glory, the rewards are immense and very satisfying. Remember – when you are standing at the peak of a mountain, it is like standing on top of the world. Nothing can match this feeling of having won over difficult odds. This is what leaders need to learn – there will be difficult colleagues, tough decisions, customers, financial difficulties and a host of other problems. But once you keep going and overcome these hurdles, the sense of achievement is extremely satisfying.

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Plan, prepare and go for it

In mountaineering, preparations can make a difference between life and death – proper equipment, supplies, training, experience and knowledge – everything comes into play. Mountaineers plan, equip themselves, check and recheck – before commencing on a climb. Proper equipment, water, food, jacket, clothing, mountaineering equipment such as ropes, pitons, hammers, boots, etc…are part of the kit – even if one of these things is missing, the mountaineering trip could end in tragedy. For leaders as well, failing to consider something or factor in a component can impact business outcomes and cause failures.  Hence, good leaders endlessly plan, review, check and recheck to prepare themselves for achieving their objectives.


Set your Pace

No mountaineer starts at the bottom and directly finishes at the top – there are stops, rests and breaks in between. If he keeps on going, he will burn himself out and waste his energy. Slow and steady wins the race – ask any mountaineer! Leaders, when faced with any huge, seemingly impossible task, they must do what mountaineers do – keep your head down and keep going. In mountaineering, there is no option of opting out or stopping – it could prove fatal for not only oneself but the companions too. Thus, speed at the cost of errors or risks is not just the answer. Leaders must know how to cover ground, taking things at their own pace – resting, resuming and continuing working towards the goal as required.

Rejoice when it’s Done

After scaling the peak, when mountaineers get to the top, they celebrate their success. They gaze out over the view, put a flag to signify that they have triumphed, done the climb. It is the proper culmination of all their endless preparation, careful planning and proper execution. Similarly, leaders can apply this tenet in their professional lives. Once a goal has been achieved, they should celebrate the achievement and share it with the team – remember this is not the 1st achievement nor the last. There will be more goals to achieve, more dreams to actualize. But, for today, rejoice and share the celebration with your team.

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Mountaineering demands a lot of perseverance, patience, courage and skills. There are quite a few things that leaders can learn from observing this discipline. Applying these learning to a professional scenario may help to resolve issues better and faster.