Do you have the skills and mindset crucial for future leaders?
Imagine leading a team through the Antarctic - a few months into your journey your ship gets trapped, before it does, you and your crew escape to a massive piece of floating ice where you remain for several more months. Yikes! Eventually the ice cracks and starts to melt, forcing you and your team into your lifeboats to search for land. It's over year since you have stepped foot onto solid land. Having to battle unpredictable conditions, starvation, the freezing cold, and exhaustion, you and all of your team DO survive.
That was the actual experience of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton - considered to be one of the greatest explorers and leaders of all time. After studying his exploration, I realized that he didn’t lose a single man on his team because of his ability to adapt to new and unknown situations, embrace a growth mindset, practice curiosity, and remain agile and nimble.
He remained optimistic and hosted sing-a-longs to keep up the morale of his people. He focused on putting his people first and had to quickly shift his goal from exploring the Antarctic to ensuring the safety and health of his team.
As leaders, we may not be leading sea expeditions, but we will still face the unknown and encounter tough times. In order to be a great leader, there are some key things you must do and think - just like an explorer.
1. Have a Growth Mindset
Leaders with a growth mindset see obstacles as opportunities for improvement, instead of permanent roadblocks to success. If you have a growth mindset, you realize that where you are now isn’t where you’ll always be. A growth mindset means that you believe you can improve AND that your intelligence and your abilities are not fixed. If you put your mind to something that will serve others and the greater good of the community, obstacles are not an issue - it will always be about growth.
2. Be Curious
Sounds odd, right? Not if you want to be a strong leader! We need to be curious, which means we need to be willing to venture into the unknown. The natural curiosity we all have as children tends to fade as we grow up and head into our careers. Look at your children - they ask numerous questions about everything all day long.
To be successful and stand out, leaders need to tap into their curious natures and take time to ask questions, explore new possibilities, and allow their brains to seek new ideas. Set time aside in your calendar each day to be curious and challenge the conventional way of doing things. The best time to do this is typically in the mornings before life gets hectic.
3. Be Flexible
To be successful, explorers need to change direction and be flexible in their thinking. If they are too stuck in their ways and their plan, they may miss opportunities for growth or success that come from unexpected sources. Typically, our team members provide unique perspectives if we just listen to them!
Although many of us set out with a map/plan, our routes can change and evolve pretty quick, and we, just like explorers, should be comfortable leading our teams on that new path.
Just like Shackleton and his team had to adapt and continually learn to stay alive, us leaders must also be willing to consider other perspectives and continually grow and evolve to succeed in the ever-changing workplace, especially amidst tough times.
And don't forget: as an Explorer, remember to enjoy the journey too!