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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….