Article about Ankit Sood and Leadership

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					11/3/2010                               From the World’s Highest Mountains-Le…

 From the World’s Highest Mountains-Lessons
 for Leaders
 One of the benefits of being a continual learner is that we are constantly overtaken
 by ah-hah moments which serve to not only whack us on the side of the head, but
 also hold lessons which can have universal application for anyone in leadership.
 The following are but some of the principles gleaned as our group drove along the
 highest roads in the world and wound up in the regions of Lahual and Spiti which
 are often closed to the outside world for seven frozen months.

 One of Carl Jung’s favorite words was “synchronicity”, that unexplainable convergence of
 unplanned events which offer insights and opportunities. When I agreed to join a trekking
 expedition through two remote provinces of the Indian Himalayas, I had no way of knowing
 that this adventure would coincide with the publication of my latest book, Gifts from the
 Mountain- Simple Truths for Life’s Complexities. Ah, synchronicity!

 One of the benefits of being a continual learner is that we are constantly overtaken by ah-hah
 moments which serve to not only whack us on the side of the head, but also hold lessons
 which can have universal application for anyone in leadership. The following are but some of
 the principles gleaned as our group drove along the highest roads in the world and wound up in the regions of
 Lahual and Spiti which are often closed to the outside world for seven frozen months. They come from trekking
 with tribesmen herding sheep and goats at elevations up to 16,000 feet and from crossing white water rivers on
 foot and encountering the Dalia Lama in a remote monastery near the China/Tibet border.

 Watch for patterns. Different trees grow at different elevations.

 The apple trees of the Kullu Valley could no more have survived at Rohtang Pass then a trout could swim at the
 North Pole. The natural world allows for adaptation but only to a point. As leaders, we must know where we
 belong, what adaptations we can make, and then how to help those around us find the best match for their
 growth and abilities.

 Ankit Sood, our wise guide, demonstrated this principle during the trek. As the journey became more difficult, he
 voiced his concern in such a way that it allowed all of us to gracefully examine our skill levels. Four of our party
 self-selected to not continue when the trekking became more difficult and demanding on both a physical and
 emotional level. That’s wisdom and courage on display. Had they continued, it might have caused harm to
 themselves as well as to the rest of the group. Ankit, as our leader, paved the way for that decision yet was also
 prepared to take them to a lower elevation had they insisted on continuing.

 A leader gives the follower a chance to evaluate his own performance but is also prepared to make the difficult
 decision of transferring or terminating an employee. When an employee is not able to do the job at hand, it
 damages the morale and the performance of a team if that employee is left to struggle in work that does not
 match competency or innate potential.…/6                                                                               1/3
11/3/2010                              From the World’s Highest Mountains-Le…

 Expect the unexpected and deal with it

 Change is one thing. The unexpected adversity or opportunity is something else. Great leaders live in the present
 moment and make decisions based upon what is before them.. As we climbed higher into Spiti, the Himalayan
 cold semi-desert region that has been described as one of the highest, most remote and inhospitable places on
 the planet, Ankit learned that the Dalia Lama would be teaching at a monastery in the village of Nako. To venture
 to Nako meant changing plans on a dime, jumping through mounds of bureaucratic paperwork, and going
 through time-consuming checkpoints. However the chance to see a world leader in a special setting was an
 unexpected opportunity not to be missed.

 The same is true in the business world. Had 3M ignored an engineer’s idea that a less-than-sticky glue could be
 useful, the world would never have known Post-It-Notes™. Had Larry Page and Sergey Brin not paid attention
 to the unexpected response to their simple search engine methodology, the word “Google” would not have
 become a common word in our vocabulary.

 The more critical the effort, the more teamwork is required

 The rivers of the western Himalayas cascade from melting glaciers. At night, when the glaciers freeze, water level
 is reduced. The timing of a crossing is critical as water rises along with the sun. Rocks and debris swirl into
 tumultuous rapids. Crossing alone can be suicidal. We created a human chain, grasping each other by wrists (not
 hands) and alternated smaller team members with larger ones. We succeeded, cold and battered, but safe.

 How often do we encounter the leader or employee who insists on “going it alone” in a critical situation? To ask
 for help is perceived as a weakness. Yet, it is the strength of collective brains and maybe even brawn that can
 produce a better result. Equally important is knowing how to optimize the varying strengths of team members for
 the best results. The adage of “strength in numbers” bears consideration.

 Action is the antidote for anxiety

 We made it in time to cross the dangerous river that had already claimed six lives. But other members of our
 expedition crew were not so lucky. Their pace had been slowed by rounding up pack horses. In horror we
 watched these men attempt three times to cross, spinning against rapids and almost drowning. There was no
 choice but to stay on the granite rocks and wait until early morning.

 I could see the anxiety in the eyes of our leader. While we hiked ahead to make camp, he devised a plan. With
 another team member, he filled a water proof barrel with food, warmer clothes and a small tent. He hurled a rope
 to the stranded crew and together they created a pulley system for retrieving the barrel. While everyone was still
 concerned, taking action provided some comfort.

 Hand-wringing never accomplishes anything. Action gives a level of control over what, at face valuable, might
 seem uncontrollable. A leader helps people take that action.

 Everyone deserves to be welcomed home

 When the stranded crew appeared over the horizon at day break, we cheered, sang and welcomed them…/6                                                                             2/3
11/3/2010                              From the World’s Highest Mountains-Le…
 “home”. Their faces glowed with a sense that we weren’t just customers to serve, managers to follow, but rather
 individuals who cared for their well-being. They redoubled their efforts to work for us in the days that followed.

 There’s universality in wanting to be welcomed and cheered. Whether in the remote regions of India or the
 meeting rooms of Wall Street, employees deserve to feel that someone has seen their effort, their hard work and
 their long hours. The degree of engagement and retention might increase exponentially if leaders welcomed them

 Gratitude transcends latitudes

 Regardless of nationality or geography, humans everywhere respond to expressions of gratitude Not only do we
 seek a place where we are welcomed, but our spirits rise when others let us know that we matter. The more
 personal the expression, the deeper is the human connection.

 While it is customary to pool monies and give a bonus to the trekking crew, our expedition wanted to extend a
 more intimate thank-you. After all, these men had put our well-being ahead of their own. They paid attention to
 our personal needs, even found a way to bake a cake at 15,000 feet when they discovered that two of us had

 Our solution was to gift them with personal items we knew could be used by themselves or their families. My
 new Timberland boots, thermal jacket and ski hat went into the box along with my husband’s favorite space-
 aged parka. Our party left gloves, socks, medicines, thermals, and even unopened bags of trail mix and jerky
 brought from home. We gave money to have everything cleaned and restored if need be.

 When gratitude comes from the heart, is personal, unexpected, and out-of-the-ordinary, amazing linkages are
 created. The gifts demonstrated that we had observed their life, their needs, and responded appropriately.
 Spontaneous appreciation that recognizes the uniqueness of an individual beats standardized reward programs
 any day.

 As for our band of intrepid explorers, my expedition partners who were strangers until we gathered at Chicago
 O’Hare for the fifteen-hour flight to New Delhi, we’ll continue our relationships that were forged with shared
 experiences. You might say we have created a new company through collaboration, cooperation, and
 consideration. That’s not a bad final lesson to carry into our respective places of work.
 © 2010, McDargh Communications. Publication rights granted to all venues so long as article and by-line are
 reprinted intact and all links are made live.

 Professional speaker and author, Eileen McDargh, is ranked in the top 100 thought-leaders in leadership
 development by Executive Excellence. Need a speaker or facilitator who engages the minds and hearts of your
 group through extensive preparation & involvement in your entire event? Visit
 today to find out Eileen can help you. Eileen also invites you to visit her women and leadership site at


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