LESSONS FROM THE MOUNTAIN
Our green tea KitKats marked the end to an adventure-filled team building exercise and leadership lessons.
Although we were tired, we enjoyed watching other hikers rejoin their friends and families. We understood what it felt like to reunite with one’s team. Like all of these groups, we had overcome many severe challenges, and we were delighted to have safely completed the journey. None of us could have predicted the obstacles, hardships, and danger we faced on the mountain.
Steve said that I would learn a lot about leadership on the climb, and I did. I learned what not to do from him and what to do from my teammates. As I reflect on my climb, here are just some of the leadership lessons I learned:
1. Many people aspire to be called and perceived as leaders without understanding the responsibility that comes with the title. The person who races to the top and leaves their team behind is definitely not a leader. Leaders walk with the team, step-by-step, and stay committed to each individual’s well-being. They are dedicated to the team, ensure clarity, and provide support throughout the organizational levels. As a result, they gain their team’s trust and engagement in the process.
2. Steve related leadership to climbing a mountain by explaining how people at the base become smaller as you ascend. To avoid that, leaders must be deliberate and intentional in their actions to ensure they stay connected throughout the organization. Whether team members are at the base or at the top, the leader must communicate to all levels and to look out for the organization as a whole.
3. The best leaders lead from the heart and focus on the human element. They recognize the importance of supporting, encouraging, and motivating their teams. A caring leader ensures that the team is safe and protected and that everyone is rising as they achieve their goals together. Building trust and personal connections creates the strongest bonds within a team.
After the great achievement of hiking Mount Fuji, our team went to the neighboring hot springs (onsen). The springs were separated by gender, so Moto-san, Okubo-san, and Steve went to the men’s spring, and I had a moment to myself to reflect. As I relaxed in the hot spring, steam rose from the water, and I could see Mount Fuji in the distance. The volcanic mountain looked calm and gorgeous from afar. A light layer of snow at the peak, reminded me of the icy conditions and unpredictable weather we had trekked through.
I could feel my muscles relax in the hot water. I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, like the steam rising around me. The last two days involved more challenges than anyone of us had anticipated and without each other’s support, we almost certainly would have failed.
What about you?
You may be intrigued to climb your own mountain of leadership. Take some time to reflect on your experiences and ask yourself:
- What is your mountain of leadership?
- What leaders inspire you?
- What kind of leader are you?
- What motivates you to keep going?
- What lessons have you learned from good and bad leaders?
- What are you doing to inspire your team, those at the base and those at the top, to keep moving forward and to make sure they know they can trust you along the way?
I would love for you to share your leadership lessons with me at firstname.lastname@example.org