It was great to invite back to LEAD Sir Chris Bonington who once again delivered a spellbinding masterclass on Leadership Challenges to some of the region’s leading business people.

Since the mountaineer, writer and lecturer addressed the first LEAD cohort, almost 100 other business leaders have also participated on the programme.

In an inspirational manner, Sir Chris related his mountaineering experiences to clarifying the essential need to balance leadership and management to achieve success.

Sir Chris explored the key themes of leadership, planning, teamwork and decision-making by outlining the ascent of the South West face of Everest in 1975, exploring the characters involved, detailing his thinking prior to taking action …. and then stopping the Masterclass and asking the group to think through the problems and suggest their way forward. Sir Chris then compared suggested ideas to his decisions and the outcomes that followed. As the Masterclass proceeded the group was encouraged to make the connections to their own business contexts.

Comparisons to business life were in much abundance. Sir Chris grabbed the opportunity to get the only available pass to climb Everest before he had the funding in place and immediately began building his team and ordering resources. Very entrepreneurial!

Key to his leadership success was delegation, choosing good people then trusting them with their specialisms. As the team delivered, the trust was repaid and there was the creation of a bond of trust. This is an excellent recipe for any leader in any organisation.

Sir Chris stated that a leader must have a vision of what is to be achieved, share it with the team (sell it if necessary) and listen to the team who may have better ideas. He suggested that the leader should go and have a look and be prepared to change their mind by using their judgement.

Sir Chris encourages leaders to be receptive to team members’ feelings, let them be involved in decision-making and make them feel the leaders’ ideas are their ideas i.e. become a subtle leader. Sir Chris recommended that leaders “lose the pips on their shoulders”, work with their team and earn their respect, to get people to come with them and be relaxed.

A leader must think things through thoroughly. Sir Chris advocates asking open questions, not critical ones, so that team members can examine risks as well as asking the right questions to avoid arguments and conflict. He argues that this is a good strategy for dealing with difficult subjects. He recommends that a leader should not give their opinion at the beginning as this enables the leader to move without losing face.

Interestingly, Sir Chris does not fear failure but saw failure as a learning opportunity to succeed next time.

Everest casts a shadow 200 miles long. Professor John Oliver OBE and former CEO of Leyland Truck and LEAD Masterclass speaker asks, “How long is the cast of your leadership shadow?”

Aimed at owners and managers of high growth businesses, LEAD, as featured in triple award nominated book, LEADing Small Business, is a 10-month programme including masterclasses with high profile speakers, one-to-one coaching sessions, action learning workshops, business shadowing and exchanges where directors and senior managers are sent into each other’s businesses to observe leadership and undertake strategic projects.

The programme is tailored specifically to the needs of local business leaders. Recruitment has opened for the next LEAD cohort starting in April, 2016.

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