6 Leadership Parallels I Drew From Doing A 50kms Walkathon

Another challenge. Another physical and mental endurance test. Another fun 17 hours. Walking this tough trail left me with lessons for organisational leadership and team-building as well!

Another challenge. Another physical and mental endurance test. Another fun 17 hours. Walking this tough trail left me with lessons for organisational leadership and team-building as well!

We walked, for the second year in a row, for Oxfam India as Mumbai trail-walkers. This time in Karjat. And over the 17 arduous-but-fun hours, we learnt a lot about leadership and working as a team.

Here are a few take-aways:

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Choose the right team

Discuss the challenge (project) and be prepared before the d-date. And train as a team. Spend time together to built the association that would keep everyone going together when the road gets tough. Choose someone as a lead. Someone who will make decisions, someone who will keep a check on the time, who will ensure the team reaches its final destination. During the trail, motivate and stand out with the one who needs to be pushed and support him/her mentally to convince them that the trail can be completed. As they say, ‘Recruit right, train right and as a leader, lead right.’

Have a goal set

Discuss and decide amongst the team beforehand the target time to complete the trail. Take everyone’s feedback, consider each person’s ability and experience (people walking second time would be more confident) and then keep on reminding the team during the trail to stick around the agreed goal. A goal gives everyone a purpose, a motivation to meet that target and a reason to keep the team’s flag high.

Maintain a standard walking pace

This is important to ensure that no one in the team gets injured during the trail. At times, when you feel the trail is getting too rough, pick-up your pace and train your mind to complete that rough patch as quickly as possible to give your body a relaxed pace later. If you are the team lead, it is very important to sometimes let another team-member lead while you pull back your energy to prepare yourself for a more rugged terrain ahead. Take the ‘energy-conservation’ break. Good leaders, they say, ‘Conserve energy. Bitch less, Focus More. Are more efficient’

Be ready for the unplanned, unexpected hurdles during the trail 

You have prepared, you have checked out the trail map, you have got all gadgets to manage the day-night syndrome, yet be ready for the worst. Bad weather conditions, unplanned injuries, long stretches without water and so on could bring down the team’s motivation and ability to continue on the trail. At this time, the lead must brainstorm possible alternatives along with the team, give a pep-talk and ensure there are no drop-outs; rather, make sure that everyone comes together and moves closely to reach the end-point. Similarly, Leadership, Industry or Organizational changes should not deter a team from achieving its desired goals. A leader should communicate with the pack, and ensure that the ‘break’ due to external or internal environment does not impact the team deliveries or result in attrition.

Be vigilant

During the trail, be vigilant not to miss the direction tag, leading to the team to an incorrect spot. Keep your eyes and ears open and speak-up as soon as you feel the direction that the team has taken is wrong. Similarly, in organizations, be vigilant of the organizational changes, be vigilant of the opportunites around the corner, be vigilant of that lucrative job offer – each of these could be potential benefits or losses to your future career prospects.

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Wellness matters

Lastly, do not starve. Eat at regular intervals throughout the trail. Forget calories. Hydrate. You can figure out the goals, the direction, the mental strength – everything, provided your body is ready and willing to take it. Therefore, giving the body the energy through food and water is the most essential thing. Just like this, each employee in your team, in your organization needs to be mentally and physically healthy to perform to the best of his/her ability. Ensure employees’ wellness to keep them going.

To another challenge and many more learnings in the coming year!

Image via Pexels

First published here.

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