Updated: Oct 9, 2019
At Mountain Mindset, we are big believers in the cross over of leadership skills between mountain sports and business leadership.
One of the qualities of a leader that we focus on during our Medical Leaders course and our Business Leaders course is that of building personal and team resilience. Team and personal resilience are key to success in the mountains and likewise in business.
Take Mountain ultra-running as an example. The ability to run 100 miles through mountainous terrain doesn't come simply through training. A significant portion of success is down to team and personal resilience. The ability to exploit the highs during the race and ride out the lows are all part of the overall process to succeed. Every race starts with a plan and objectives that normally have to be amended as the race goes on and, in some cases, need to be reassessed to achieve the ultimate goal, to finish.
The ability to run-off a sprained ankle, spend three hours vomiting but still moving forward, the support crew waiting in the pouring rain to help their runner hydrate and eat, or the ability to keep moving after over 40 hours of running are all risks to the runners success and therefore, resilience through these occasions is crucial.
But resilience doesn't need to be responsive, one doesn't have to wait for the incident to occur before calling on resilience. Resilience can be planned to a certain degree. Every runner knows that they might sprain an ankle, so they carry a bandage and painkillers. The months of pre-training has conditioned their body to keep moving despite dwindling energy levels and increased pain. If a runner knows they are likely to suffer from nausea 24 hours into a race, they will carry anti-nausea medicine to ensure they can keep eating and running. The team carry their waterproofs, ready for the rain so that they can wait for their runner.
The point is that resilience isn't just about the inherent quality or capacity to recover quickly from difficulties or toughness. In business a large proportion of those 'difficulties' are known or at least the possibility is known. And if the difficulties are known, then the individual or team can prepare for them. Preparation at a team level can come in many forms such as contingency planning, training or risk assessment. Similarly, the business leader can build in habits that aid resilience such as exercise, balancing work and life for the whole team, delegating responsibility to team members and many more.
But whilst all these will help, toughness is relative to an individual's perception and therefore, 'tough circumstances' to one person may be drastically different to another. I.e. A seasoned Snowdonia guide will fare much better in a hillside storm than a tourist on their first mountain hike. Not because one is naturally more resilient than the other, but the guide knows the risks and how to prepare for them. And the guide can prepare the tourist to be more resilient through instruction and advice (a bit like a management consultant).
So, when you are looking for resilient leaders in your company, don't just look at those who are naturally resilient, find the ones who want to learn and grow. Expose them to difficulty, let them fail and help them recover. Help build their resilience don't just expect it.
And if you are looking to build your personal resilience, go and find difficulty. Take the opportunity that sounds hard. Travel to that place that looks too remote. Embrace any failure as learning and keep moving forward even if you feel sick and your legs don't want to move.
Join us on one of our Leadership courses to explore this and other Mountain Mindset leadership values in an environment that immerses you in adventure and discovery.