Leadership Modes and Trekking

Why leadership, and the styles you use, are a lot like going on a tough hike

We had an amazing family break this summer, as part of a group camping and trekking in the US national parks in Arizona, Utah and Nevada. Being part of a group of strangers thrown together in relatively tough conditions like that is, for me at least, a great chance to see how we lead and behave together. Although there’s a guide, different people take-on different leadership roles during the trek as situations change and this one was over enough time to see how the dynamics worked.

I noted lots of different kinds of leadership modes in operation on the trek. And I know from my coaching that the same opportunities to lead like this come-up again and again at work.

So, as I write this at the end of the calendar year, I’m curious to know which of these leadership modes have been part of your kitbag at work over the last year?
Which is the one that tends to predominate for you?
And which is the mode you hardly ever use?

At the head of the group on a walk
Usually the fittest person, or the one keenest to get us to the campsite before sundown! Says stuff like: “Come on, if we step-up the pace a little, we’ll be there in no time”

Standing up and holding a map
Full of enthusiasm for what’s possible to go and see that day. Says stuff like: “Did you guys know that there’s a hidden valley right over this bluff? The views down to the river at sunrise will be spectacular”

In the team van at a crossroads
Wants everybody to have the best experience, for them. Says stuff like: “Looks like we’ve got two choices of destinations, and/or an early lunch. What do you guys feel like doing together?”

Being clear at the campfire
Managing a bunch of tired, hungry and mixed-experience campers. Says stuff like: “You go get some water, you get the campfire going and you two get the grill set-up; I’ll show you how”

Keeping us together during a trek
At the back, in the middle, at the front; starting conversations; checking people are ok. Says stuff like: “Would you mind keeping an eye on Steve and checking that his knee isn’t playing-up later on?”

At the start of a trail
Wants each person to experience all that they’re capable of. Says stuff like: “If you want to, you’ll be able to get right to the end of this canyon today. How much water do you think you’ll take?”

Let me know how your own leadership modes changed with circumstances during the year?
 

Great One-on-One Meetings for Busy Managers

Team Performance Using DRIL

The 4-step approach to great team performance: Design, Rehearse, Implement, Learn

I’m often surprised by how much of an expectation people set for themselves about being able to do stuff exactly right, first time. It happens a lot in business; even with professionals who’ve spent years acquiring expert knowledge in their subject. In other walks of life – the arts, the military, for example – there’s a much more progressive attitude to practising things before being expected to get them right.

And the area where people seem to have the highest expectations without putting in preparation is about how teams perform. Great teams don’t just happen – they are created and nurtured.

Here’s my DRIL – the four steps for getting really great performance out of teams:

  1. Design – what is it you want to achieve and how, together, will you go about it?
  2. Rehearse – practise it; walk it through in your minds or on the whiteboard;
  3. Implement – if you can hold-off implementation long enough to have done Design and Rehearse, then it can be done fast and with conviction, often saving time;
  4. Learn – you’d think that learning from what worked and what didn’t would be old news by now. It isn’t – maybe because a great team is never done learning.

Great One-on-One Meetings for Busy Managers

Strategic Management

What to do if your board or top-team is not looking at the critical success factors that your business needs to tackle

It’s easy for boards and top-teams to get caught-up in the routine of managing the business and even in the routine of managing the board agenda! My experience has been that if you give people the opportunity to examine the right issues and some structure to do it with, they’ll usually be more than ready to do so.


As a working definition, a Critical Success Factor (CSF) is anything that is vital for your strategy to be successful. You can think of a CSF as a make or break issue – hence “critical”.  One relatively easy way to identify some of your CSFs is to ask the question: “Why would a customer choose us instead of a competitor?


Just occasionally, there are two factors which can unconsciously create resistance to taking the right amount and quality of time for your board or top-team to properly examine the factors that make your business successful. Those are:

  1. without necessarily admitting it to themselves or to each other, directors are aware that something important is not going right
  1. the organization is very busy but not outstandingly successful financially and there’s an “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentally getting in the way of doing it better.

If that’s the case in your business, you’ll need to act as a catalyst and influencer so that the right people will give these issues their conscious attention. If you’re the boss, that’s relatively easy to do and it may be you’ve just not had the time or process to think about it before. If you’re not the boss, you’ll need to start building alliances and setting out the case for change, so that the Critical Success Factors for your business can be managed properly.

If you want to get a head-start identifying your CSFs, try downloading my area-analysis grid by clicking on the picture at the top of this article. This grid is also a great process to use at a board awayday session. Try sticking a big grid on the wall or the floor and then populating it with Post-its.

 

Great One-on-One Meetings for Busy Managers

A Leaders’ Guide to One-to-One Meetings

Ten ways to use one-to-one meetings to block progress, disempower people and avoid an embarrassing sense of being a team

 

Click on the picture above to download your own copy.

 

Oh, and I forgot number 11:

Always write it as “1-2-1” and never “one-to-one”. Because (a) words are just so hard to type and read, and (b) it’s so much quicker to use numbers and other shorthand than to muck about referring to actual people.
 

Great One-on-One Meetings for Busy Managers