In our book on Enlightened Leadership, we highlighted 6 change-friendly principles and one of them was the importance of a highly adaptable and anticipatory mindset in a great leader. While in theory we tend write about Organizational Leadership, sometimes we see all too clearly how our principles translate into real world, life or death situations. In the article below, posted on Bloomberg Business Week, Alison Damast shares an inspiring story.
The Importance of a Highly Adaptable and Anticipatory Mindset in a Great Leader
Daniel Balcauski was leading a team of Kellogg School of Management MBAs through Patagonia, a wild, isolated region on the southern tip of South America, when he realized a blizzard was quickly approaching. The five students and their guide had just reached the top of a picturesque Andes mountain pass and ahead was what Balcauski dubbed the “granite slab of death,” a path that would be especially treacherous to go down as whiteout conditions and visibility worsened. Says Balcauski: “It was imperative to get off the mountain as soon as possible.”
As the appointed Leader of the Day, he helped the team find an alternative route off the mountain, backtracking up a cliff and eventually finding a spot in a river valley where his team, some of whom were in the early stages of hypothermia, could set up camp. For Balcauski, then a first-year MBA student, the most valuable part of the experience happened that evening, when his classmates, wrapped in blankets and sipping hot drinks, gave him their opinion on how he performed as a leader in a set of challenging conditions.
“I got immediate and direct feedback on my leadership style and performance that day, which was extremely valuable,” says Balcauski, now in the second year of his MBA program.
The importance of a highly adaptable and anticipatory mindset in a great leader is some times more than just making decisions that benefit an organization – sometimes it is a matter of life and death. Keep this story in mind when you feel resistance to change.