Robyn Benincasa’s Blog

Unique & inspiring insights on teambuilding, leadership and extreme performance

5 Leadership Suggestions from the Back Seat

Robyn’s Guide to Leadership Suggestions from the Back Seat:

I’m a full time firefighter for the City of San Diego. And I have been for 19 years. In those 19 years, I’ve had an annual evaluation each and every year.  But I have yet to be asked what I think about my Captain and his/her leadership performance. As someone who spent the first 10 years of my professional life in field sales for Fortune 1000 hospital supply and pharmaceutical companies, I had become accustomed to the “360-degree feedback” loop, in which both leaders and their team give well-intentioned feedback to make one another better at what they do, and to draw attention to leadership styles or actions that may not be working for the team members.  It keeps everyone in check and accountable to one another in a (hopefully) positive way.

But in the fire service… not so much.  The person with the captain’s badge makes the rules, and everyone else… well, we shut up and follow them.  That’s the culture.  So I’ve created a short list of a few “Leadership Suggestions” that we “back seaters” (the lowly firefighters and paramedics in the back seat of the fire engine, aka the folks that clean your toilets) have been talking about in whispered bathroom meetings, quiet hallways, and more recently in emoji laden cross cab text volleys.  And we hope that any manager who also wants to ultimately be a World Class Leader in their industry or business will hear our quiet unspoken pleas. Please.  Sir or Ma’am.
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Courageous Leadership Series

Robyn’s blogs on Courageous Leadership:

 

1 – Taking Risks and Stepping into Character:

How many times in our lives have we put something off because we’re not ready, we need more time, we don’t feel comfortable, etc etc. I’ve completed 10 Ironman Triathlons and over 40 10 day non-stop Eco-Challenge Adventure Races through the most remote places on earth, and here’s a secret: I didn’t feel ‘ready’ for any of them.

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2 – Do It Anyway:

How you feel is far less important than what you DO. Feeling scared, nervous and uncomfortable when you’re rappelling off that symbolic cliff of changing your life, starting a business, going for a big goal is just a GIVEN. It’s the price of admission for an exceptional life! The only difference between you and the guy or girl who is living her dream is that he or she felt the fear and ‘did it anyway’. Back in the day, I played Judo. I was only a brown belt, not a black belt yet, but I was lucky enough to do a little bit of traveling and competing on the US Team. We were at the Hungarian National Championships, and I was totally overwhelmed and scared to death in my first big international meet. And then I saw the brackets for competition and had to literally sit down on the floor because I felt nauseous.

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Top Lessons in Leadership from Adventure Racing

When we have the label of “leader”, we often assume that to mean that we need to get out in front and show people the way. That may be true sometimes. But great leaders allow for leadership among team members based on their strengths and not their titles. They “manage” the team, but allow for different leaders to emerge.

World class leaders are focused on helping their team members inspire and amaze themSELVES – understanding that confidence and inspiration are an inside job. Robyn Benincasa, the World Champion Adventure Racer, award-winning motivational speaker, 3x Guinness World Record kayaker, San Diego firefighter, 10x Ironman triathlete and New York Times bestselling author says, “We don’t achieve our greatest heights as leaders by stepping on our teammates’ backs to rise higher – we stand much taller as leaders when we put our teammates on our shoulders. And we don’t inspire our teammates by leading the pack and showing them how wonderful WE are. We inspire them by putting them on our shoulders and showing them how amazing, smart, and capable THEY are.”

A great leader deeply understands multiple different leadership styles and when to use them. When it’s business as usual, a team sometimes needs a visionary, a coach, a friend, or to feel like they’re part of the decision making. In times of great challenge or change the team often needs a strong pacesetter to get out front and show them the way or simply tell them exactly what to do and when (…to be utilized sparingly!). Bottom line: leadership styles should be utilized and interchanged similar to the way a golfer chooses his clubs. If we continually assess conditions, the lay of the land and choose just the right club for the job, we increase our chances of long term, consistent success from our team!

It’s poetic and powerful to watch a great leader step up to the plate and become exactly whom their teammates need at the moment. The best teambuilders know their teammates well, and are constantly listening for, assessing, and striving to deeply understand the needs of each individual and the team as a whole, so that they may maximize potential and outcomes.

Leadership styles should be utilized and interchanged….

8 Incredible Benefits of Building World Class Teams

Robyn Benincasa, one of the highest rated female athlete speakers, and her adventure racing teams have learned about building world class teams the hard way – by competing in and winning the world’s toughest ultra-endurance adventure races. She shares her lessons on ‘Building World Class Teams’ with Fortune 500 companies to bring out the world class team builder, leader and peak performer in their employees.

Read on to discover about the incredible benefits you get as a leader and as an organization when you build world class teams.

  • Embracing times of great challenge and change as a springboard to future success.
  • Inspiring total commitment to extremely challenging goals.
  • Valuing and respecting the diversity in background, expertise, skills, and culture that each member brings to the team.
  • Connecting deeply to others as a means to take your success to the next level–even when team members operate on a “virtual team” or have individual goals.
  • Taking calculated risks: Teams that are creative and willing to take risks are the most successful in the long run.
  • Ensuring that all team members realize and embrace the fact that they are also leaders in their areas of strength and expertise, regardless of tenure or titles.
  • Creating leaders that value Teambuilding as one of their most important skill sets in their quest for world class results.

To book Robyn for a Keynote or Teambuilding Event, call 1-805-965-1400 or write to bookrobyn@worldclassteams.com

5 Effective Strategies to Create Synergy and Build a World Class Team

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My teammates and I have learned about building World Class Teams the hard way. By competing in and winning the world’s toughest ultra-endurance Adventure Races. From the leech-infested jungles of Borneo to the towering peaks of Tibet and Ecuador, to the frigid seas and glaciers of Patagonia and the searing desert of Namibia, we have run, paddled, mountain biked, climbed, whitewater rafted, spelunked, mountaineered, navigated and raced across the most remote places on earth for up to ten NON STOP days and nights as a team. Read More

We give the Mountain pulpit to: Robyn Benincasa

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After Kristin Salzman was diagnosed with breast cancer, she endured five surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. But she told me that the hardest moment was shaving her head. “I looked different on the outside, just as I was different inside,” she said. Kristin—a mother who loves to run and kayak—beat cancer. But she’s still recovering. Read More

6 Leadership Styles, And When You Should Use Them

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Taking a team from ordinary to extraordinary means understanding and embracing the difference between management and leadership. According to writer and consultant Peter Drucker, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Read More


Build Leaders & Teams That Succeed Against All Odds!
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8 Essential Elements of Human Synergy

Robyn's 8 Essential Elements of Human Synergy

Filled with stunning adventure photography, inspiring quotes and helpful tips, this guide gives a great overview of Robyn's principles of teambuilding, leadership and adversity management. Robyn gets TONS of requests for this guide after her presentations, so she's made it available for you to download here!

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