How The Himalayan Mountain Challenge Transforms Students Into Collaborative Leaders

There is a growing concern voiced by Business Schools and professional institutions about their students. They notice that students focus so much on individual achievement that they do not develop collaborative leadership skills and behaviours. This places them at a great disadvantage in the present-day work world.

Collaborative leadership is a vital and growing need in today’s highly networked world. Working in teams and interacting closely with different stakeholders is the new norm. This propels organisations on a path of higher growth and efficiency. Yet, few leaders have been trained to lead collaboratively.

What Is Collaborative Leadership

As the name suggests, collaborative leadership is on the opposite end of the ‘command and control’ way of functioning. It calls for a high level of trust between team members. Understanding team members and building strong relationships are vital for this form of leadership.

It demands cooperation between all while working towards a common goal — within the team, between teams, and with other stakeholders. It taps into the collective strength of a team and creates an environment in which individuals take on complete responsibility.

What Does Collaborative Leadership Require

Collaborative leadership requires a different set of skills, attitudes, and values. It calls for every member of the team to model behaviors such as:

1. Investing time to build relationships with teammates
2. Building trust through honest and transparent communication
3. Handling conflicts in a constructive manner
4. Being empathetic and inclusive
5. Sharing control and avoiding power struggles
6. Creating an environment that enables others to lead in their area of responsibility
7. Building connections with other teams and stakeholders
8. Being able to leverage the diversity in a team and tap its collective intelligence

These are behaviours that come with practice and while actually working closely with a team. There are some who naturally seem to veer towards collaboration – but what’s heartening to know is that it is a set of behaviours that can be learned and improved upon.

Having said that, though collaborative behaviour and leadership can be learned, it is very difficult to learn or practice it in a classroom or simulated setting. This is where the world of the outdoors lends itself very well. 

Learning Collaborative Leadership Experientially

The Himalayan Mountain Challenge program is a specifically designed experiential learning program where students learn to develop collaborative leadership skills. This suits students of business schools as well as professional institutes.  

The program has been developed and refined over the years in collaboration with some of the top Indian Institutes of Management of our country.

It has been designed for students to work closely together in diverse teams in a challenging environment — doing things they have never done before, out of their comfort zones

In the basic design of the program, students plan and execute their own 4-day trekking expedition in the Himalayas. Their goal is to reach a trekkable mountain summit as a team. We design this knowing that almost none of the students would have done a Himalayan trek before. 

This sets the perfect stage for an intensely immersive experience that impels them to work collaboratively. There is no other way of doing it. Their success depends on it. 

In the last 8 years, having taken over 4,000 students from the top IIMs of our country on the program with us, we have seen the strong impact this program has had on them. In a short span of time, they not only learn collaborative leadership —  they internalise it.


Other Benefits Of This Program

While the main benefit is developing collaborative leadership skills, other surprising benefits emerge from the program. Students speak profusely about this even many years after the program.

Resilience: We notice students become more resilient after the program. Going through this program helps them in facing and tackling difficult situations in life. They are able to take ups and downs in life with a stronger resolve. 

Self- awareness: They become more aware of their own selves —  their strengths and weaknesses — which can often surprise them. This helps them analyse and use their strengths better in their future career and life.

Deep-seated Confidence: By the end of the program they leave with a deep-seated inner confidence, a quiet confidence that speaks for itself. Unanimously they feel better equipped to take on any challenge that life throws at them. They get accustomed to hardship — and do not fear difficult work. This is different from being accustomed to hard work, which they already are, thanks to their rigorous course.

Reconnection with nature: A big disconnect with nature is repaired in this program. With our programme, we  ensure they acquire a deeper understanding of sustainability and how their every small effort creates an impact. They go back home becoming better citizens of the planet. In the consumerist world we live in, this is not a small thing to ignore. For many, the impact is life long.


Conclusion

Over the years we have received overwhelming acknowledgement of the efficacy of this program from students. The real-life experience of the program instills in them collaborative behaviour and leadership skills. They are better equipped for the modern highly networked work world.

To know more about the Himalayan Mountain Challenge and it’s benefits for your students do get in touch with us by filling up this form.

Alternatively, you can email us at [email protected] or call us on +91 7022175673.

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