In a 2011 post in the Sierra Journal, Rich Meyers*, provides tips to serve us well in extended outdoor endeavors and that have a natural application to servant leadership.
While these expedition behaviors may not set someone apart as a traditional leader, it creates influence within the group that position or power within a typical command and control environment could never achieve. They make you a good team member and follower and as Aristotle said, “He who cannot be a good follower, cannot be a good leader.”
Carry your weight: You signed on for this trip! Pack you bag and haul an equal share. If you want to be invited on another adventure you do not want to be remembered as the guy who always seemed to have the light pack.
- Whatever role and responsibility you’ve taken or been assigned, carry all of it without shirking responsibility. Others notice when you do.
No whining: Everyone has been slogging up the mountain all day. Your blisters sunburn, and aches & pains are probably no worse than anyone else’s.
- Everyone is hurting in some way from either the scars of the job or “stuff” happening at home. Bemoaning your situation or commiserating in the break room only hurts the group and annoys those around you.
Cook (or Clean) something: Add something to the mission. Food is a HUGE part of an expedition. Find a way to add something to the dining experience.
- Make a personal contribution to the team’s or group’s mission. It may not be food in your case, but find a way to add a personal touch. It shows you care, that you’re contributing and keeps things interesting.
Take care of your gear & get organized: leave your junk show at home. Your comrades will slowly go off the deep end waiting for you to pack & prep and search for your gear each morning.
- Keep a clean office and/or desk and be as organized as possible. It shows you take seriously what you are doing and that you respect those around you.
Know the program & contribute: If you cease to be involved in the decision making, route finding, and trail breaking, and simply follow along your partners probably won’t invite you back on the next trip.
- Stay plugged into the overall plan and objectives for your work. Ask questions, do research and offer your unique perspective when asked or when the opportunity arises with those you are leading.
Hold off on the back flip: Your crew already knows you’re fit and have a few cool tricks, 20 miles from the nearest road is a bad place to try to immobilize your spine. Stick to the objective.
- Everyone knows you’re smart. You wouldn’t be on the team or been hired if you weren’t. Forget the showing off and find ways to contribute your special skills, knowledge and talents without “showboating” in front of the group.
How would you rank yourself as a follower given these six tips?
Which expedition behavior tips will you adopt today?
*Rich Meyer has over a dozen years of experience guiding clients to mountain peaks around the world. His specialties include Skiing, Climbing and Avalanche Education. You can learn more about Rich at his website: www.RichMeyerAlpineGuide.com