Experimental Training Program: Wilderness/Adventure Learning


Training employees is a fundamental element of a corporations success. A
company succeeds only as well as the people running it can perform. This
training process can cover many skills and go into many areas of expertise. One
key element that has only recently come into action is an outdoor- based
experiential training program.
Commonly called "ropes courses," wilderness courses or adventure
learning programs have been in use in the USA since the early 1980\'s, and by
organizations in the UK since the early 1970\'s. Outdoor programs have been most
beneficial when used to promote effective work teams and used to enhance
leadership and management skills in the participants. Outdoor- based training
programs seem to accomplish these objectives by allowing participants to develop
a high level of trust in their peers, improve their problem-solving ability, and
generally improve the level of interpersonal communications between group
members.
Companies are looking for leaders that can launch them into a new era.
Constant improvement is necessary to meet the growth of challenging competition.
So who defines leadership? What is a leader and how would you raise these skills
that may be laying dormant in your subordinates?
Organizations need great leaders to help them successfully survive the
many difficulties of this decade. Yet, the very notion of leadership has rapidly
degenerated into a cliché, a buzz word. In many people\'s minds, leadership has
become identified with an overly simplistic conception of vision and empowerment.
Although these concepts do play an important role in the leadership process,
they only scratch the surface of what an exceptional leader actually does on a
day-to-day basis.
What do leaders really do to make an organization work well? In my research
I found that great leaders exhibit nine different kinds of behaviors that enable
them to bring out the best in the people around them. Some of the nine behaviors
of leadership listed below involve building participatory teams, some involve
using "situational management strategies," while others enhance personal
resources. Listed separately, the nine behaviors include:

Developing people.
Being able to influence others.
Encouraging teamwork.
Empowering people.
Using multiple options thinking.
Taking intelligent risks.
Being passionate about work.
Having a strong, clear vision.
Stretching one\'s personal creativity.

While many people think leaders are unique, even born to that state of
excellence, I have found just the opposite. With proper experiential training,
it is possible for people to learn these leadership behaviors. In other words,
leaders can be developed. By all means they should be developed at many levels
in an organization because leadership in a hierarchical situation stimulates the
best in their followers and thereby increases overall productivity.
In experiential training, the focus in on inner development. At the
beginning of one leadership training course, participants are asked for their
own definitions of leadership - so they can see, hear, and explore their ideas
about the real leadership qualities. Most participants do not realize that there
are fundamental behaviors of exceptional leadership. Instead they tend to
believe the common myths about leadership - that it is a rare skill exhibited
only by those at the top, that leaders are born and always display charisma and
that they are strongly authoritative "take-charge" people Dispelling these
myths is a key and briefly I will explain the nine, learnable behaviors of
leaders.
In order to go beyond a cognitive understanding, participants must begin to
experience these behaviors as they might occur at work, hence the name
experiential education. They will begin see that leaders have a strong interest
in the people working for them, for when a team works well together they all
help get an excellent job done.
The first four behaviors focus on building high functioning teams:
developing people; being able to influence others, encouraging teamwork, and
empowering others.

Developing People and Influencing Others

Good leaders have a strong interest in the personal and professional
development of their people. They encourage their staff to push beyond their
limitations and give their personal best. One of the best ways to get this
notion of encouragement and support across to people is to ask participants to
remember and then write down how their best boss treated them, and how they felt
about it. Then, have them share their answers with the rest of the group. Point
out the common denominators in their answers so that their own experiences flesh
out a composite picture of what it is like to offer people the support they need.

Finally, ask them this: If their own people were to do a similar exercise,
would their own names be on