Leadership means a whole lot more than telling others what to do. Accomplishing a mission as a group takes a lot more than simply being the strongest or the smartest or the fastest. Effective leadership makes all the difference in how a group performs and if a mission is accomplished.
Serving as a Captain in the U.S. Army, stateside and in two tours of combat duty in Iraq, has exposed me to many leadership styles. My experience in extreme environments has shaped my belief that effective leadership is about serving those under my command.
It is the responsibility of a leader to find ways to complete the mission that honor his or her soldiers’ commitment, effort and sacrifice while keeping them safe.
After two tours of duty in combat zones, a career in the military and attending an Outward Bound wilderness course, I believe that the Outward Bound approach to leadership, coupled with the risks and challenges of the wilderness, provides an incredible opportunity to learn leadership with skilled instructors, in a supportive environment, in an unforgettable way.
Though most people are unlikely to experience the pressure of combat, the natural demands and difficulties of the wilderness make for an ideal setting to practice and learn leadership skills.
Leaders need to know that success is not dependent on the leader but on the leader’s ability to gain the respect, commitment and energy of the group and to transform the group into a high functioning team all focused on a shared goal and outcome.
Mike Kelly is a 2012 Outward Bound graduate and served as a U.S. Army Infantry Officer from 2006-2010—during which time he reached the rank of Captain. His service included two deployments
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