Everest Expedition Video 1: Intro and trek to BC

Hi and welcome to my new expedition video series. Over the next while I will share with you some video I shot while climbing Everest and during other adventures. I did not shoot these a vlogs as vlogs did not exist at that time. I recorded them as a part of documenting my adventure.

This first series will showcase a few videos from my climb of Everest in 2008. This was a highlight in my climbing career and Everest will always hold a special place in my heart. Everest and Nepal have become a big part of who I am and I find myself back in Nepal every few years for various adventures. The videos are short, not planned and not professionally shot. They will just give you a glimpse into my world and some of my adventures. I hope you enjoy them.

This first video simply showcases the awesome beauty of the Khumbu Valley as we trekker to Base Camp. As we near Namche Bazar we catch our first view of Everest. As we peer to our right there are deep valleys filled with trees, rivers and waterfalls. As you look up the green turns to white and we catch sight of Nuptse, Lhotse and Everest.

 

How to Lead Teams to Greatness

Corporate Team Building Games

At Summit Team Building we specialize in helping organizations and leaders build high performance teams. Sometimes we work organization wide on culture, collaboration and communication, sometimes we work with individual teams to help them figure out how to bring out their best, and sometimes we work with leaders and leadership teams to help them determine how to be a great leader and builder of teams.

In this blog I will focus on the development of a leader into someone that consistently builds high performance in teams and the individuals within those teams.

There are 6 elements critical for a leader to focus on to build high performance. Other elements will come into play, but this is the place where it all begins.

Step 1: Know how you lead. Each leader has their own personal style. It is created through a combination of their innate personality traits, past experiences, the organizational culture, and their training. Most leaders that are in touch with their own self have a pretty good idea of their style, but it is always a good idea to dig deeper through assessments, training, coaching, and reading. An assessment such as MBTI will help a leader better understand their inborn personality traits that drive so much. An Emotional Intelligence assessment will help a leader understand their strengths and some of their blind spots. Whereas the Life Style Inventory (LSI) will help them understand their default leadership style. Armed with this knowledge a leader can modify their leadership style and approach to the needs of the team.

Step 2: Have a Vision of High Performance. It is hard to achieve high performance if you do not know what it is. As Stephen Covey states – “Begin with the end in mind”. You can’t just say “let’s be high performance” as that has no real definition or measurement in it. As a leader you must have a clear definition of what high performance is and you must communicate it to your team. You cannot expect anyone to live up to your expectations if they do not know what they are. Do not just assume people can read your mind. Determine what high performance is for your team based on goals, responsibilities, customer service, cross-department teamwork and interpersonal relationships. Once you have this figured out communicate it to the team and reinforce it every chance you get.

Step 3. Build Real Relationships. Communication is critical within teams and from team to leader.  Communication is built on trust and trust is created through relationship. I always say that relationship is the foundation of any high performance team. Make sure everyone has an opportunity to get to know and understand one another. This can be done through training and team building sessions that are facilitated to accelerate relationship development and through more organic events such as meetings and team dinners. A mix of both is best.

Step 4: Clearly Define Roles & Responsibilities. This is critical to avoid dropped balls and conflict. When everyone knows what to do everything gets done. It is that simple. If something is missed, you know where to look to find out why. Conflict often arises due to unclear roles and responsibilities when too many people think they are doing the same thing or nobody thinks it is their responsibility. If you do not have clarity on this it will become apparent very fast and you will need to fix it.

Step 5: Provide Proactive Feedback. To help everyone know how they are performing and to help them grow you need to provide proactive feedback and be a coach and a mentor. One of the strongest factors in determining commitment is the ability to learn and grow. Great leaders make the development of their people a priority and they are rewarded for their efforts in performance, loyalty, commitment and even promotion.

Step 6: Celebrate. Everyone likes to celebrate a job well done. However, don’t wait until the end of the fiscal year or the conclusion of a big project to celebrate. Find many small celebrations along the way. This will help build relationships, foster commitment and loyalty, and keep morale strong for when times get tough. A team that feels appreciated is more willing to go the extra mile when needed.

Building a high performance team is a complex task, but if you focus on these 6 elements you are well on your way to greatness. Take time to make a plan and give us a call at Summit Team Building and we can develop a training program to help you achieve greatness.

Leadership as a Way of Being

leadership training

Leadership is often seen as a title bestowed on a person who has risen above the norm. These people are looked up to and guide their ‘team’ in good times and in bad. The challenge is that if we only look to people with the title of leader than we are missing out on the value that can be accessed from the vast majority of people who are not leaders in title.

Leaders are critical in helping others become high performance. They are our coaches and our mentors. They motivate and inspire us and hold us accountable. They are very important people and it is elitist to think that only people with the title of leader can help us in these ways.

If we look beyond leadership as a title and look at it more as a way of being it becomes much more universally attainable and empowering.

Generally speaking, leaders are proactive, analytical, and decisive. Followers (everyone who is not a leader) wait to be told what to do by their leader. The challenge in this is that the leader cannot be in all places all the time and many opportunities are lost and production (whatever this may be) is slowed.

Ideally you want to build a team of leaders. Yes only one person has the official title of leader, but if everyone in the teams sees themselves as a leader then there is far more power available for any task. Therefore, leadership is not just a title, but it is a way of being. It is an attitude. It is not bestowed upon anyone, but something you choose to be.

To be a leader you need to look at everything a little different. You look at it as though it is your responsibility and you can make choices and take actions without waiting to be told what to do. You are aware of the interconnectedness of all the moving parts and not just how you influence this, but how the others involved do as well. You consult with others and your titled leader when required, but you are proactive and make things happen.

So the questions is, as a leader, how do you create a team of leaders? First of all you need to set this as your vision and one of your values must be empowerment. You need to communicate this vision to your team so they know this is something you are expecting of them. After all, nobody can live up to your expectations if they do not know what they are.

This is all and good, but unless you empower people to be leaders they will not be. The challenge here is that you cannot give empowerment to anyone. Empowerment can only be taken and it will only be taken when people feel the environment is safe to do so.

What this means is that if you want someone to feel empowered, you need to be comfortable and supportive with the actions they take and the decisions they make. If what they do is not what they should have done you use this as a coaching opportunity and help them for the future. The first time you explode at someone for the action they took or decision they made is the last time they will feel truly empowered.

So to move into the area of building a team of leaders you need to start with some self reflection. Is this what you honestly want or are you just doing it because you were told to. If you are not doing it for the right reasons, your team will see through it instantly and there will be no benefit.

If, after reflection, this is what you really do want, make a plan to build it and put it into action. You will reap huge benefits in the future.

At Summit we build these philosophies into many of our Team Development training programs.

Everest 2017 By Scott Kress

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Well another spring Everest season has come and gone. And an exciting season it was as always. I have always keenly followed each Everest climbing season and even more so since I summited on May 21, 2008.

Today’s internet environment makes it much easier to keep tabs on what is happening on the mountain. Every team and every climber is updating their social media sites and sometimes multiple sites at once.

Although this provides a flood of information, it is not always accurate. I try and avoid anything posted for sensationalizing or personal bragging. I try and separate the wheat from the chaff. The following will provide a very minor overview of what transpired in April and May this year on Everest. This is by no means a complete overview. If you are looking for additional details the internet is full of them.

Everest is climbed by two main/standard routes. The Southeast Ridge in Nepal and the North Col in Tibet/China. Nepal issued 371 climbing permits to foreign climbers (Sherpas are not included in this number and usually account for a similar number). China issued approximately 136 permits, but the numbers are not as available from China so this is somewhat of an educated guess based on gathered information.

These numbers represent a big year for Everest. The number of climbers is up for several reasons including the re-use (therefore no payment required) of climbing permits from the 2014 and 2015 seasons which saw the climbing season cut short due to avalanches and earthquakes. The Nepal government said they would honour these permits at no extra fee until the end of 2017. We are also seeing a large influx of climbers from India and China as the middle class expands in those countries. Along with this comes budget price guiding companies based in Nepal and India to support this new emerging market.

Overall, the large number of climbers did not seem to create any real issues of crowding and traffic jams on the mountain. Everest is a huge mountain and can accommodate a lot of people. Patience is required however, if you happen to get stuck behind a slower moving team of climbers.

As the numbers indicate, Nepal is much more popular than Tibet/China for climbing. There are several reasons for this, but the primary one is the unpredictability of the Chinese Government and the changing policies, permit dates, and restrictions. Many established guiding companies are not comfortable with this uncertainty and choose to go to Nepal where, although not perfect, the system seems to be a little more predictable.

The climbing routes, mountain conditions and weather are often very different (as was the case this season), but this is not a huge factor in deciding which route to climb.

Early in April the route through the Ice Fall in Nepal was established making climbers optimistic for an early summit window. This was quickly shut down as high winds moved in and stuck around for much of the season greatly hampering the ability of climbers to move on the mountain. One strong positive in Nepal was the allowance of helicopters to ferry loads of climbing gear up the Western Cwm to Camp 2. This reduced the number of Sherpa loads that had to be carried through the very dangerous Ice Fall.

As the Nepal side dealt with high winds and difficult climbing conditions, over in Tibet things were moving quite well. The weather was uncharacteristically good and the ropes moved further and further up the mountain. For some reason, the team fixing the ropes to the summit decided to stop about 700m short, but the other climbing teams stepped up to the task and the first summits of Everest from Tibet came on May 11 (quite an early date statistically speaking).

With her 8th summit Lhapka Sherpa set a new record for the most summits by a woman. Several other interesting ‘events of note’ also occurred this season. We saw the second blind climber to summit. A Sherpa guide from Nepal set a new record for the most summits at 21. An Indian woman summited 2 times within 5 days. There were 5 summits without oxygen (a very difficult and dangerous task). And a speed climber set a new record for climbing from below base camp in Tibet to the summit and back again in 29:30 (and this was his second summit of the season – crazy).

As with any sport the ability of the participants grows every year as we push athletic and technological boundaries. More and more records will be broken in future years, and what we once thought was impossible will become commonplace.

The wind finally let up a bit in Nepal allowing for climbers to squeak in summit attempts. With summits in Nepal came the staggering news that the famous Hillary Step was gone. Climbers speculated that the earthquake in 2015 had dislodged the rock formation forever changing the face of Everest. This news hit the media and the internet like a raging fire. It turned out, however, to be fake news. It seems that perhaps a few boulders had shifted changing the wind patterns and how the snow collected on the Hillary Step making it look different. It is still there, it just looks different now with a new coating of snow.

There was a high attrition rate on both sides of the mountain from illness (the flu hit the Nepal base camp especially hard this season), injury and just plain frustration. Some climbers smartly left because they realized they were in over their heads. Other pressed forward regardless of their level of preparedness. Some threaded the needle and were successful and some paid the ultimate price.

Overall, the number of fatalities on Everest was normal with 7. Some of these deaths were from falls, but the majority seems to be from heart attack as older climbers struggle with the immense pressures placed upon their bodies at high altitude.

There were also two interesting stories of rebels on the mountain who felt they did not need to pay the permit fees as all the other climbers had. Interesting enough, both these climbers were telling the world about their exploits through social media and that made it pretty easy for the authorities to capture and arrest them. There is much more to these stories if you are interested in digging through the internet to find them.

Overall, it was another great and interesting climbing season on Everest. Many people realized their goal of standing on the highest point on our planet.

So that is my summary of the 2017 Spring Everest climbing season. Yes there is a fall season, but due to many factors very few if any people attempt to climb Everest at this time. I hope you have enjoyed this review and as I have stated, this is just a brief overview as seen through my eyes. Much more detail is available for those who wish to seek it out.

Team Building Activities With Real Value

team-building-activities

We’ve all worked somewhere where the idea of team building activities are met with a collective groan. Not everyone feels comfortable participating and many employees fail to see the point, even if you feel like getting out of the office and already like your co-workers, this sort of thing usually isn’t your idea of fun!

Here at Summit, we understand that every business is different and for everyone to get the most out of our programs they’ve been designed around the key skills that power success.

Get Creative

In many businesses creativity is left to certain teams but it’s a skill everyone should be work on and with the combination of the right activities you and your team will be in a better position to think creatively and innovate. Creativity is no longer just for the chosen few or the gifted, research from The Harvard Business Review on the subject shows these two areas are not one and the same and that employees are more productive under the guidance of innovative superiors and work more cohesively when they’re in an open environment that values their opinions and desires.

Our creativity packages include culinary challenges to see if your team can think fast and create dishes. When a moderate to high level of pressure is attached to tasks it fosters greater levels of creativity, it’s worth keeping that in mind when you’re working on future projects and setting targets.

We also run the Art Of Team program in which all team members have to contribute ideas and add creative flair to make a creative masterpiece. While this exercise may seem simple, it pushes boundaries and really tests communication.

Your team’s finished article represents diversity and those who can appreciate diversity and a shared vision end up with a higher quality result. The program is built on the basis of Daniel Pink’s: A Whole New Mind, which showcases the positives that come from a more holistic and person-centered perspective which can often be challenging for those with more logical minds.

Dream Team

The crux of all team building activities is teamwork, our programs work on the basis that every individual has a natural comfort zone so team building activities should encourage you to work together with your co-workers while playing to your strengths and help you identify your weaknesses on your own through the use of high energy challenges.

There’s now a lot of research on teamwork, with conclusively evidence across both technical and creative professions alike. Teamwork plays a key role in producing positive outcomes and meeting deadlines, as task complexity rises so does the need for teamwork. Everyone knows teamwork is important but what areas matter most?

The answer varies from person-to-person and the companies they work for but it seems that corporate businesses see the biggest benefits in staff morale, flexibility, and innovation. Where many employees are hired for their skills and experience, those in leadership roles sometimes lack knowledge in specialised subjects so when co-workers can negotiate hierarchy they’re more likely to tackle problems head on.

In smaller businesses solid teamwork aids delegation, increases ideas and allows for a more supportive environment. When your team has a better understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses it’s easier to reach targets, ask for assistance and overcome challenges.