about lead like a guide

Chris Maxwell, PhD
Senior Fellow, Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management

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

"Lead Like a Guide:  How World-Class Mountain Guides Inspire Us to Be Better Leaders"- will be published by Praeger in September, 2016. Click here to learn more.