Becoming a good Leader starts with good intentions. Where you go from there is up to you…

Mar 29

Written by:
29 March 2019 15:43  RssIcon

By Lydia Mason, Les Morgan Leader of the Year winner

When I first started training to be an expedition Leader I was a micro-managing, task-oriented disaster: the team needed to, if you’ll pardon the expression, suck it up to get the job done, and I had to have a hand in every decision, process or activity in case the person whose responsibility it was didn’t care about the result as much as I did. I had the best of intentions, but does that sound like someone you want to go away on expedition with? Of course not. I was a complete nightmare.

You can imagine my shock as my name was announced as the joint winner of the Les Morgan Leader of the Year award 2018. I share this honour with Taff Raymond, an excellent human being, an absolute legend in the field, and the kind of Leader I admire wholeheartedly. But our natural leadership styles could not be more different – and frankly, I am honoured to be considered in the same league as someone about whom this was said:

‘Taff is simply a great guy. Under normal circumstances you don’t realise that you’re being led by him, he just feels like a good friend who happens to know the way forward.’

As I reflect on our differences, and read the blush-inducing citations which brought about my nomination for this award, I am forced to acknowledge the strides I have made in the intervening years. I’m no Taff Raymond, but I’d like to think I’m less of a nightmare than I was!

Of course, there are many ways to be a good Leader, and different styles are appropriate in different contexts. We are currently bombarded on a daily – sometimes hourly – basis with a vast array of conflicting opinions on the leadership needs of this country as we fumble through the Brexit process. Whatever your views may be on this, I think we can all agree that we could use a good friend who knows the way forward.

One of the best things about volunteering as a Leader for British Exploring Society is the opportunity to work with an incredible team of Leaders all of whom have different styles, an array of natural abilities and technical skills, and a passion for and commitment to promoting youth development in wild spaces. We value these differences, since this is what makes the team strong, what makes it capable of unimaginable successes, what makes it possible for so many young people to arrive home ready to face the new futures that lie ahead of them.

Leading expeditions has taken me all over the world; brought me face to face with toxic frogs, venomous snakes, and billions of mosquitoes; pushed me up glaciers, along unexplored trails, and down crocodile-infested rivers; forced me to confront fear, self-doubt, and pain. It has also introduced me to the best bunch of people I could hope to meet and opened up a new world of possibility in my life.

Becoming a good Leader starts with good intentions. Where you go from there is up to you…  

Find out more about becoming a Leader with British Exploring Society here.

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