Leading an organization is like climbing a mountain. Despite your best efforts, you can’t achieve the peak if you aren’t prepared for it. We often hear about the significance of regular exercise and self-talk from business leaders worldwide. But, seldom do they talk about hiking.
Hiking is the only form of ‘exercise’ that lets you connect to yourself to an extent that can only be described as divine.
The mountains that have chosen to talk only through silence; the sun that has chosen to create despite having the power to destroy; the rivers that can slice through the rocks, choosing to provide. Every element of mother nature conspires to give you the greatest experience through the uneven trail of challenges.
However, as intriguing as it may sound, we aren’t here to romance with the slippery slopes. We are here to discuss leadership through hiking, which is what you may not understand if you haven’t explored the Alps on your legs.
But, we’re here to encourage you to do that. If you think of yourself as a leader by position or passion, this article is for you. Understand what can be achieved, experience it over your next vacation, and implement it.
- Heightened Sense of Self
Most of us don’t know what we think of ourselves. We prevent our self-talk from going deeper. What do you like or dislike? What are your abilities? What motivates you? Everything that you should’ve figured out by yourself, is pointed out by someone else.
As a leader, a heightened sense of self is very critical. If you don’t understand yourself and what you’re capable of, you can’t dictate the actions of others. Whether you like it or not, you may have to fire someone someday. But, if you can’t figure your worth out, they won’t believe it either. They’ll question your merit in the exit interview — leaving you shattered to the core.
Hiking increases your sensory awareness and initiates a deep connection with nature and yourself. You may not understand how watching two alpine ibex climbing the slopes and crossing their horns can make you more self-aware, but it does. The serenity of climbing in altitudes forces you to think only about yourself. It allows you to become selfish.
- Setting Realistic Goals and Performance
Your mental and physical limits are pushed when trying to climb an elevation of 12000 feet. As it’s impossible to climb to the summit without ever taking a break, it’s equally unimaginable for a hiker to abandon the progress. Hikers often set achievable goals according to the climate and their physical condition — like a business leader.
The Lac De Louvie is a pristine lake surrounded by the Alpine mountains. The trek generally starts from the beautiful village of Verbier in Switzerland. This 17km moderately difficult hike is often completed in two days.
Although the goal is the lake, the hikers don’t rush to reach it. They take in the dazzling Mont Blanc Treks by setting Cabane de Louvie as the first achievable goal.
Your team’s performance depends on how well you manage the goals. If you push them towards an unreachable goal that demands inhuman performance, it’ll just break them down to the extent of inability. Hiking difficult terrains makes you understand the importance of setting realistic goals and pushing your team towards achieving them.
- Awareness of Core Values
Employees don’t trust you. According to statistics, only 27% of employees believe in their company’s values. Although the numbers have changed in recent years, the truth didn’t. The gap between — what the leaders envision — and what the employees experience — dictates the narrative of the lack of trust.
Let’s get into something controversial. The companies changed their logos and themes to rainbows. We appreciate the action but not the hypocrisy behind it. With only 3.9% of men and 5.1% of women LGBTQ+ representatives working in the management pipeline, it’s nothing short of a fallacy.
Most of these employees experience an ‘onlyness’ and pressure to perform for being the sole representative of their gender, orientation, or community.
It’s your responsibility as a leader to diminish the gap between the company and employee values by reflecting on self-discipline and determination yourself. Hiking offers you the opportunity more than anything else. Management training and leadership skill developments work in theory, but when it comes to practicing the core values in the workspace, awareness is essential.
Hiking makes you aware of your core values. The long walks empower you to match your values to your company. You get to understand where it lacks and what can be improved to gain the cultural trust of your team.
- Increased Capability of Listening
Whether you’re leading a company or just a team of four, you must stay unbiased and listen to the issues attentively. Most managers lack the skill of nonjudgemental listening. They grow biased towards certain employees and neglect others. These leaders often develop a mindset that tells them to keep talking and stop listening to establish their dominance. Which, in most cases, fails to put them in a remediation position.
Hiking humbles you. It allows you to experience the grandness and the silence of the mountains — invoking a quietness in you. Your leadership capabilities of listening, creating overview, insight, and expressing humility, respect, and authenticity are developed with hiking through the mountain trails.
As you are forced to take every step with peak analytical ability and balance while on a hike, it resonates with the leadership skill of analyzing all relevant data before making a decision.
- Increased Adaptability
Business leadership demands adaptiveness. The complexity of situations will often make you question your decisions and strategies. But, as a strong leader, you have to embrace the challenge and adapt to the situation. If you stay true to your beliefs despite knowing them as wrong, you risk losing your credibility as a leader and pushing your business towards demise.
As a manager in the supply chain, you are responsible for administering the suppliers and the deliveries. Ensuring timely and efficient delivery of raw materials and product is a challenging task that requires maintaining a transparent and mutually beneficial relationship with the supply chain partners through adaptability.
Hiking presents difficult challenges. You may develop diseases, get attacked by a wild bear, face a water shortage, or tumble down the hills. These are practical issues that require the highest form of adaptability. You’ll only get stronger as a leader by facing the challenges of hiking.
The Bottom Line
Leadership skills are enhanced through hiking. Hopefully, you were able to comprehend the leadership lessons mentioned in this article that can be refined by facing the challenges of hiking. The sense of self that helps you maintain integrity as a leader is improved with hiking. A long mountain trail solidifies your awareness of values and increases your capability of listening. You also learn to set realistic goals and make yourself adaptive to any situation with trekking.