Navigating the Roads of Uttarakhand


The cultural norm that I anticipate being a challenge to learning about leadership is difference in approach to challenging situations. In the US we have a highly individualistic society which has shaped our approach to solving problems around us. India on the other hand has a more balanced mix of individualism and collectivism, leading to a much more collaborative approach to problem solving. An example of this is how I saw our bus driver and other drivers share the road today. Today as we approached the Woodstock School, we had to navigate through a two way, one lane road. This forced our driver to collaborate with the drivers we encountered to share the road.  All parties involved seamlessly solved the problem. The reason why this will make it increasingly difficult for us to learn about leadership is that we must learn a new cultural framework first. This change of environment provides a struggle, yet also provides us with a large opportunity to learn.        

Leaders are made. I believe becoming a successful leader takes time and effort away from the traditional traits of being a good leader which people may associate with a “natural born leader”. So much of leadership is about being able to provide a valuable insight to your team, or understanding when the team may need a break, and these are both just two aspects which only can be learned. For example, let me use an example which we may see in an outdoor leadership situation. One person is out at the front leading the pack, it’s their first time out on the trail but they are blazing because they have a natural talent for hiking. This person may seem like they are the leader but that is not the case. The person walking at the back of the pack, ensuring the group stays together and that everyone arrives safely, is the true leader. That perspective of the person leading from the back only comes from experience and time listening to the advice of others.

I believe the hardest part of being a good leader is balancing the outcome with the effort. I think it is so important to understand the value of a hard day’s worth of effort but that should not come at the expense of not valuing the reward, whether that be a trophy or a beautiful view at the top of a mountain. Simply accepting hard work is not enough to be a good leader if you did not accomplish the goal. I find that as a leader it can be hard to balance these two factors, you don’t want to become Machiavellian, but you do want the ends bit.