Leadership. And bikes?

What is leadership? Is it a role? Is it a job title? Is it something we do? Or something we are?


We make up all sorts of unhelpful stories about what leadership is and who it is for. The very word leadership is somewhat charged. Some people aspire to leadership. Some people are nominated into it. Some people are assigned it. Some people are reluctant and yet others just seem to naturally lead.


In my time working with individuals and organisations I have seen many different types of leaders and leadership. Some leaders are very visible whilst others take more of a back seat. Some lead with an iron fist and others collaborate and connect with those around them. Which one is right and which is wrong? Which is more effective?


I have also seen many of those leaders struggle to know how to lead. Some do it intuitively. Some do it by learning from others. Some learn about it through education and leadership programmes. And usually it is with mixed success.


And what about self leadership? How does that fit into the equation? What does that actually mean?


My leadership coaching focuses on who you are as a leader, not what you do. Leadership is about “one life influencing another” according to John Maxwell.


This is why leadership training is so important because it is about one life influencing another. Within any organisation or community the people are the greatest single asset and resource. Being a leader is therefore a role of utmost importance if you are to be influencing the lives of others.


I like to do things a little differently. I am passionate about leadership, about equipping people to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.


But providing that sort of experience is pretty challenging when you are restricted by training room walls, job titles, roles, timetables, work books, models and manuals. Some of those things can be helpful, but in my experience, breaking away from all of that and freeing the mind of the restrictions that those things bring is essential to really open up a new, fresh and exciting way of learning about yourself and your leadership.


That is why I run my training outdoors, on mountain bikes. Here there are no job titles, no roles. No hierarchy. No mobile phone interuptions. No emails begging for attention. Instead there is pure experience. There is an expansiveness in being outdoors in beautiful surroundings. Sensing the weather on your skin. Feeling your muscles working. Handling your bike and tackling obstacles. Being inspired by nature and switching off the analytical brain for a while. The bike helps us get to these places as well as being a metaphor for the work we do. Yes we work whilst we ride. We are on the bikes and yet the bikes are fully integrated into the experience.


The trails become your place of challenge. As you work through the programme the geography around changes and becomes incorporated into your processing of what you are learning.


When you start experiencing leadership in these natural surroundings, it becomes far deeper rooted into you and embedded into who you are. You take away more than a tool kit. You take away an experience that lives in you and with you.