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Expedition Leadership | Leadership Roles | Leadership Skills
Leadership Style | Leadership in 30 Days | Leadership Profiles

There are certain skills that will make you a strong leader. These skills are the same — whether you're on an expedition or right at home. They are:

Expedition Behavior (E.B.)

Photo: Tony Jewell

What it means…

  • cooperation and conflict resolution
  • teamwork
  • keeping yourself, and others, motivated
  • getting along in a group of very diverse people
Scenario:
You've hiked your last mile of a long, hard hiking day, and now it's time to set up camp in the rain. Everbody's tired. And wet. But you step up to the challenge, making hot drinks for the group and cracking a joke that makes everybody laugh.
Competence

Photo: Brad Christensen

What it means…

  • knowledge and skills
  • organization and management
  • technical ability
Scenario:
It's the last week of your 30-day Wind River Wilderness course, and you're on the student expedition, the last stage in your development as a leader. One of your course mates stumbles over while hiking and hits her head on a rock. Displaying excellent peer leadership, your group steps in and uses the first aid skills you've learned on the course, stabilizing her spine in case of neck or back injuries, and arranging an evacuation.
Communication

Photo: Tony Jewell

What it means…

  • using timely, specific, clear feedback
  • listening actively
  • having courage to state what you think, feel and want
  • trying to put yourself in other people's shoes during conflicts
Scenario:
A couple of your course mates like to stay up late at night laughing and talking loudly after you've crawled into the tent to go to sleep. Instead of letting your tempers flare, you use clear and timely feedback to let them know you need them to be more quiet. At the same time, you look at things from their perspective — maybe they're not doing it to annoy you, but are just being absent minded.
Judgment & Decision-Making

Photo: Traverse Zink

What it means…

  • situationally-appropriate decision-making
  • using your experience to develop good judgment
  • harnessing the strengths and knowledge of other group members to solve problems
Scenario:
You're skiing in the backcountry, looking for the best snow and the best slope to ski on. Finally, you find just the right one, a guaranteed shot at endless turns in knee-deep powder. But is it safe? Even though your entire group wants to ski it, you have to use your best judgment, perform the right stability tests and make a good decision.
Tolerance for Adversity & Uncertainty

Photo: Tony Jewell

What it means…

  • learning to endure, even enjoy, hard work and challenge
  • adapting to changes and unknowns
  • turning challenging situations into opportunities
  • using humor to keep things in perspective
  • making focused decisions under stress
Scenario:
On the way to the summit of Wind River Peak in Wyoming's backcountry, your group sees some nasty weather approaching. Summiting the peak has been your team's goal from the beginning of the expedition, but as the rain starts to sting your face, you realize the dream may not become a reality. Rather than resorting to grumpiness, you grin and bear it, laughing about your wet boots and pointing out an alternative route that will be just as rewarding.
Self-Awareness

What it means…

  • knowing yourself and your strengths and weaknesses
  • learning from experience
  • being aware of your own leadership style and how you influence others
  • realizing how your words and actions impact others
Scenario:
It's the end of the third day of your expedition, and you're beginning to feel a "hot spot" on your heel, the start of a bad blister. If you tell someone, the whole group will have to stop while you take off your hiking boots. But, if you don't address the problem, the blister might get infected, leaving you unable to walk and your group faced with a much trickier dilemma.
Vision & Action

Photo: Tom Bol

What it means…

  • seeing the possibilities in any situation and finding creative ways to move the group forward
  • motivating and initiating
  • using group goals to guide your actions
Scenario:
Your expedition has a tough decision to make — do you hike hard for ten miles so you can reach a spectacular valley, or do you take a different route, enjoying some of the great fly fishing along the way. Now's your chance to rise to the occasion, motivating the group to take action and helping out others in the group who might be having a hard time deciding.

Expedition Behavior | Competence | Communication | Judgment & Decision-Making
Tolerance For Adversity & Uncertainty | Self-Awareness | Vision & Action

Expedition Leadership | Leadership Roles | Leadership Skills
Leadership Style | Leadership in 30 Days | Leadership Profiles

 
 

The leadership skills you learn at NOLS will work in your daily life too.
© Brien Sheedy
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