In early August I completed a 4 day bike ride crossing of the NSW high country from Bulls Head in the Brindabella’s Ranges above Canberra to Rules Point on the Snowy Mountains Highway about ½ way between Adaminaby and Tumut. With two long term mates, Dale Brown and Peter Whitely. The ride was approximately 100klm with 2.5klm of vertical climbing, across snow and mud sometime in sub zero howling winds and rain. While planning, training and executing this ride I found many similarities and learning’s to my role as a senior leader at Dimension Data in Victoria.
Planning for this ride was commenced early in April, some factors we considered were riding over snow, sub zero conditions, nutrition, cooking at altitude and equipment reliability in hostile environments. The connection I drew to my work was clear…without this level of planning we would have failed… in the competitive hyper speed enterprise environment it is easy to be convinced that “we must act now” …. “we can’t wait for confirmation” our role as leaders is to inspect and scrutinise the strategy not be convinced that everything will be ok in the end.
To safely complete this crossing in such adverse conditions it was never going to be good enough to just have enough in the tank for the predicted effort… conditions could and did change in a matter of minutes on the high plains….on a single section of 4kms that would in planning take 20 minutes to ride … we took 4.5 gruelling hours of pushing up muddy rain soaked hills and lifting over fallen logs. The hours and 100’s of klms of beach riding (the closest simulated environment I could find to riding across snow and mud) were pay divides…. As a senior leader my role is to cover off the reality that when standing in front of a client it is always unpredictable what is going to be required. Allowing my teams to go in with the minimum will result in failure… rehearsing, having broad skill sets and deep business understanding protects the team.
On the day, or the four days in this case… an understanding of what was needed to be done was essential… how much food to consume and when to stop and rest… what was the constant work rate needed to achieve the daily distance without working too hard and sweating and being chilled by the howling wind and sub zero conditions. In the enterprise it is easy for the constant pressure to achieve to become the norm… as leaders we need to regulate the team.. send in a reserve and monitor our key players to ensure they are ready when the big jobs appear from nowhere…
Where to from here…?
Just like our next proposed ride… leadership of and being a part of a high performing team is a juggle between the known and unknown. Forensically inspecting the known ensures the team plan is built upon a secure base giving them the best position to handle the unknown when that appears as it always does.
See you next time!