You need courage to take a one year sabbatical from work to train to be a future manager. Yet, if you do, the payback is enormous.
Let me take a moment to explain.
Everyone knows that as you grow older in an organisation, your skills grow and so does your responsibility. Likewise, the number of people you have to manage grows too.
Many think they can avoid taking on a management role; that they can specialise to be technologists. It really does not work that way. At some point or another, you need to work with a team. You need to do well and look to lead a team.
Most people think they can progressively “lean” in to a management role. That they will learn how to manage people.
But in reality, most people are not good at managing people. Their organisations absorb a lot of their inefficiencies, sometimes reluctantly. So their future appraisals and promotions get shaky.
Add to it the new push towards automation. You may think it is hyped, but automation of tasks is definitely something to worry about.
Even at Indiahikes, software is taking out many of our mid management tasks. The entire operations of Indiahikes, which involves more than 12,000 trekkers in a year, is handled by only one person. Everything else is automated. Even as I write this article, a team of software engineers is bringing in more automation to our operations.
To avoid a shaky future the safest thing to do is learn to be good at management of people. The sooner you learn to do it, well, the better it is. Or else, like most people in mid career, you’ll find yourself fearful. The fear is straightforward too – you wonder if your skills are good enough for your position in the organisation to be future-proof.
This is where taking a year’s sabbatical from work and pursuing a leadership training in the outdoors may work better than anything else. It can make your career future proof, give rise to higher income and lead to more job satisfaction.
How will taking off from work, sacrificing money give you a better future?
First of all, one year of outdoor leadership training is not a holiday. You are at work and you are gaining valuable work experience. The work is serious and demanding.
Also, unknown to many, organisations love people who have done a training in leadership — especially in the outdoors. It is not seen as loss of work but a valuable skill that has been learnt.
What does outdoor leadership training really mean?
A leadership training in the outdoors means learning how to be a leader in very difficult conditions. Not only are the conditions difficult, you are also forced to be a leader with real people, taking charge of real lives, in real situations.
While there are many kinds of outdoor leadership programmes, one of the most challenging one is being an outdoor leader in the Himalayas.
At 15,000 feet, high up on a mountain pass in the Himalayas, leading a team through rough weather is when management challenges are at their peak. Every decision counts. They need to be taken every few minutes. Lives are in danger. Options are few.
When you overcome these challenges repeatedly, the leader in you emerges.
Initially, these tasks are daunting. But gradually over months you develop skills to take critical decisions; you learn to manage complex tasks.
We have seen amazing transformations take place in our trek leaders within a month of joining. Those who have been around longer than a year have enviable leadership skills.
An outdoor leadership training mirrors a course in MBA very closely
Like an MBA, our trek leaders also go through personal leadership activities, reflection programs and skill development training. In fact, the focus on training and learning is extremely high.
A wrong notion people have is that up in the Himalayan mountains, trek leaders are having a good time, wandering in the mountains. Nothing is further from the truth. While our trek leaders do get an opportunity to be in some of the greatest mountain sceneries in the world, the work they do is grueling, requires continuous training and is a lot of hard work.
An outdoor leadership program has everything that happens in an MBA program. Yet, it is many times more.
Here is what you learn through outdoor leadership training:
- Developing leaders through challenging expeditions
- The importance of building and maintaining positive relationships
- Using the right leadership style at the right time
- Providing the space for others growth and development
- Development of trust in the face of contingent outcomes
- Finding the balance between risk and safety
- The meaning of the big picture
The Indiahikes Outdoor Leadership Program (OLP)
This is a one year outdoor leadership program as a trek leader with Indiahikes. The first month is spent as an Assistant Trek Leader (ATL). During this period you learn the ropes of basic trek leading, safety guidelines. You also shadow a trek leader. After the first month you move on to become a Probational Trek Leader (PTL). This is a period where you start active trek leading. During this period you get trained on mountain knowledge, leadership skills, rescue and safety management.
The PTL period lasts 3 months, following which you become a Trek Leader with Indiahikes.
The outdoor leadership program lasts 12 months (including the ATL and PTL period). After the program ends, you are given a certificate of leadership and a work experience letter that details the leadership program you have been through.
How to apply
First check whether you fulfil the following eligibility criteria.
- Minimum 25 years old
- Minimum 2 years work experience
- You have an active fitness regime. Your BMI (Body Mass Index) must be between 18.5 and 24.9.
- You have excellent English and Hindi communication skills
- You do not smoke or drink.
Selection is based on written and two rounds of online interviews. Every month we select three participants for this program.
All selected participants earn a stipend of Rs 3 lakhs during the course of the program.
Subject: Outdoor Leadership Programme.
Your application must include a resume, brief work history, and a cover letter detailing why you wish to apply for the OLP.