After climbing a high peak as a member of a guide-led team, I began a research project to discover how world-class mountain guides help individuals and groups reach difficult objectives in remote and challenging environments. I especially wanted to know if the way guides lead in the mountains could serve as a model for leaders in today's complex organizations. Over the past decade, with support from the Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management, I conducted extensive interviews with a select group of highly accomplished international mountain guides based in North and South America. Each had climbed and guided challenging peaks around the world: six had reached the summit of Mt. Everest. To complement what I learned from the guides, I also organized a series of educational expeditions In North America, Peru, Patagonia, Mexico, Canada, and Iceland with expert guides and over 200 Wharton Business School participants and corporate sponsors.
My research reveals that world-class mountain guides actively model leadership by inspiring and motivating a team to work well with others, adapt to change, focus on strengths, develop trusting relationships, build comfort with uncertainty, and take a broad view. The story of how these six key leadership strengths were identified, and how they have been productively applied in both business and non-profit organizations, is briefly described in The European Business Review and in Wharton@Work (click the pictures to view).
"Lead Like a Guide: How World-Class Mountain Guides Inspire Us to Be Better Leaders"- will be published by Praeger in 2016.
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About Dr. Chris Maxwell
Chris taught a course on leadership and teamwork at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School for 15 years, and created and directed an experiential leadership development program that took him and over 200 participants and corporate sponsors to high peaks and challenging environments around the world. From Wyoming's dramatic Grand Teton to Iceland's highest snow mountain to Peru's Inca Trail and beyond, his team-based programs with world-class guides in six countries taught leadership lessons that are now being put into practice by rising leaders in both business and non-profit organizations.
Formerly a senior healthcare executive, Chris holds a PhD with concentrations in organizational theory, public management, and health policy from Penn State University. He earned a graduate degree from the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania and also holds a graduate degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied under the founder of the field of positive psychology, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman.
Chris consults with forward-looking organizations internationally. He designs seminars and corporate retreats with a focus on building leadership strengths, enhancing teamwork and communication skills, and fostering positive organizational change. His recent engagements have included conducting a retreat for the senior management team of the University of Monterrey, Mexico and designing an interactive leadership development workshop for R&D engineers and product designers at Össur Corporation, Reykjavik, Iceland. He has also led leadership and change management workshops for a wide variety of audiences including physicians and medical technologists at the Dark Report's Executive War College conference in New Orleans, LA; senior administrators and board members of California and Pennsylvania school districts; Global Government and Public Affairs division executives of McDonald's corporation in Chicago, IL; senior executives of MasTec Advanced Technologies in San Antonio, TX; the Texas Association of School Business Officials in San Antonio, Texas. He has also served as a content expert for a leadership development program created by Boston Scientific Corporation, Minneapolis, MN.
His publications have appeared in the Wharton Leadership Digest, Wharton@Work, Organization Management Journal, European Business Review, the Center for Creative Leadership's Quick View Leadership Series, Journal of Surgical Education, and the American Journal of Public Health, among many others.
Chris is a Senior Fellow, Center for Leadership and Change Management, at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a faculty member for Diamond 6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC, He is also an accredited coach for the Korn Ferry/Hay Group's Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI).
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