Hidden Dangers in Antarctica

One of the greatest dangers encountered in Antarctica are the crevasse fields. A crevasse is a crack in an ice sheet – in Antarctica the ice sheet, which covers the continent, is up to 4 miles thick – they often have vertical or near-vertical walls and are often covered, but not necessarily filled, by a snow bridge made of the previous year's snow. These cracks often appear in large numbers over several miles long. Falling into a hidden crevasse covered by a weak snow bridge is a real risk.

All my teams complete training in crevasse rescue techniques should someone fall into a crevasse, but the real skill is the ability to cross a snow bridge safely. This takes practice and takes time to build confidence in the individuals, and in me to allow them to lead the team across snowbridges.

To lead a team across every crevasse snow bridge would be mentally and physically demanding for me, and unsustainable on a long polar journey. Therefore, I always encourage team members to take the lead in crossing snow bridges to build upon their experiences and develop self-confidence and mutual trust within the team. Initially under my close supervision, as their confidence builds I can empower them to keep us moving safely forwards towards our goal and focus my efforts on other areas.

Problems can occur with empowerment if you become insular and isolated in your decision-making and control of information. You have to learn to release control, make fewer checks and allow the team freedom to take action.

If you are afraid of the loss of control, or not naturally inclined to take risks, spend more time on planning to minimise the risks involved. The rationale that it is quicker and easier to do it yourself may produce immediate results, but for long-term high-performance, you must trust the team to do a good job. This requires investing time and effort to explain what you want achieved and provide guidance when needed.

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4 Tips to Start your Leadership Journey

Ask any new manager about the early days of being a boss. Indeed, ask any senior executive to recall how he or she felt as a new manager. If you get an honest answer, you will hear a tale of disorientation and, for some, overwhelming confusion.The new role did not feel anything like they thought it would. It felt too big for any one person to handle. Also, whatever its scope, it sure did not seem to have anything to do with leadership. Here are 4 great tips to help you as you start out on your leadership journey...

1.  Know the team
You cannot win teams over immediately. Start by getting an idea of their capabilities and interests. This can prevent later communication hurdles.

2.  Communicate openly
Teams work best when everyone knows what is going on and who is responsible for what. Nothing destroys a team faster than mistrust or the hiding of information.

3.  Expect the worst
Have team members consider the ‘what if’ scenarios and they will be more prepared to deal with what comes.

4.  Relax
Leading into the unknown is like the beginning of a polar journey. Everyone is tense and itchy, but when you start to ski everything else but the task is forgotten.

To explore more about leadership explore 'Leading High Performance Teams' available in paperback or ebook.