Leaders Are Not Born; They Are Made on the Challenge Course

Leaders Challenge CourseThere is a common saying that goes “Leaders are born, not made.” You’re probably heard it before, but we are hear to tell you that this just simply isn’t the case. There is no special genetic code that makes a great leader. It takes time. It takes commitment. And most importantly, it takes practice.

The challenge course can help.

Leaders Are Not Born

“Most folks who start out with a modicum of innate leadership capability can actually become very good, even great leaders,” says Forbes contributing writer Erika Andersen.

Former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell agrees – leaders are made, not born. Successful leaders know how to communicate their mission to their subordinates and ensure they have the right tools and training to get the job done.

“Leadership is all about people…and getting the most out of people,” says Powell.

But the question is how do you first get the most out of yourself? How do you first become a good leader?

“In the same way that naturally occurring events create changes for an organization, an organization has the ability to create a team building event that contributes to a culture of dynamic leaders who naturally adapt and respond to change,” writes researcher Katherine T. Whitnah.

Leaders Are Made on the Challenge Course

“Leadership is not a personality style; it is a learned set of skills attained through development opportunities that are integrated to a lifestyle of learning,” says Whitnah.

Becoming a great leader means working to become a great leader. And the only way to do this is to put yourself in positions where you are forced to act, you are forced to make tough decisions, you are forced to lead. As American psychologist, philosopher, and educational reformer John Dewey once famously said, “there is an intimate and necessary relation between the processes of actual experience and education.” This is the basis of the challenge course (ropes course) experience.

“Data support[s] the notion that participation in a four-hour challenge course significantly increases the participants’ levels of leadership and work efficacy,” write researchers Theresa Odello, Eddie Hill, and Edwin Gómez. The team measured leadership and work efficacy levels pre-challenge course, immediately post challenge course, and six weeks after.

“Results were significant” and longlasting, say the researchers.

Learn to be a Better Leader

“There is no one-size fits all approach, answer key or formula to leadership,” says Activate Your Talent founder Katie Christy. This is why Terrapin Adventures, conveniently located between Baltimore and Washington, DC, creates customized team building programs (onsite or offsite, indoor or outdoor) designed to meet the individual needs of organizations. Our programs provide for exciting activities that bridge the gaps in communication, improve collaboration, and expand your group’s problem solving skills. Let us help you grow as a leader!

“In many [team building] activities, a leader is needed to step forward to assist the group in reaching a common goal,” write Odello et al.

On a challenge course, leaders look to take a diverse group of individuals and channel their creativity and energy to a common goal. Leaders stimulate problem solving and provide opportunities for staff to support the group in different roles so that the team performs better.

“Individuals who took on leadership roles during the course had noticeable increases in their leadership efficacy scores,” write Odello et al.

Schedule Your Custom Team Building Session!

After each team building exercise, your group will sit down with their facilitator to discuss the lessons behind each activity and how they translate to the business world. This discussion is designed to reinforce these lessons and help ensure that the progress made during your team building outing sticks.

“We appreciate the opportunity for this adventure. Throughout the full experience, your facilitators were professional and supportive. They allowed us to be creative and fun our own way. At the end of the day, the importance of leadership, openness, trust, and creativity among the team shined through.”

John Cave, Director Supplier Management, Boeing

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at info@terrapinadventures.com to learn more.

Works Cited

  1. “Effective leaders made, not born, Colin Powell says.” Stanford Report. Stanford University, 30 Nov. 2005. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.
  2. Whitnah, Katherine T. A Phenomenological Inquiry: In the Context of Organizational Development, How Does Experiential Team Building in the Form of a High ROPES Course, Contribute to Positive Leadership Development, and How Can It Be Improved? Adler Graduate School. Web.
  3. Odello, Theresa, Eddie Hill, Suny Cortland, and Edwin Gomez. “Challenge Course Effectiveness: The Impact on Leadership Efficacy and Work Efficacy among College Students.” Journal of Unconventional Parks, Tourism & Recreation Research 1.1 (2008): 18-22. Web.

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