The Art of Leadership By Dag Heward-Mills
Why is it important to live and work with others? Why is teamwork important? There are certain achievements that can only be done with a team. Solo efforts will not work! There was a time in ministry where I worked alone. Sometimes I worked with a couple of other people. But as I expanded and grew, I was forced to accept that I would work with a large team of people. Some achievements are simply impossible without a large team.
Climbing The Highest Mountain in Europe
I once visited the highest mountain in Europe. I was amazed at the dangerous and awesome snow peaks of these magnificent mountains. I could not help being afraid at different times of this experience. It is a place worth visiting! But even more amazing were the people who were climbing this mountain on foot. For some reason, thousands of people have a passion to climb these dangerous high mountains. They climb over glaciers (rivers of ice) that have steep crevices that go down hundreds of metres. They also climb vertical rock faces with ropes and ladders. It is just scary to look at! Every year, several people die trying to climb these mountains. Many others also get injured.
Strategy for Climbing the Highest Mountain in the World
Mount Everest which is the highest mountain in the world is far more dangerous. Mount Everest is almost double the height of European mountains at 8,848 metres high. Yet, every year, many people try to climb it, risking their very lives. What is amazing about climbing Mount Everest is the number of people that are needed to help one person climb Mount Everest.
Do you have any idea what it costs for one person to attempt to climb Mount Everest today? It will cost you between $30,000 and $100,000 to attempt to climb Mount Everest. It will take you four to ten weeks to climb Mount Everest. There is a reason for these huge costs! Several people will have to help you climb this mountain! A huge team of porters will have to help you climb the mountain. They will carry your equipment, food and oxygen for you. A huge team of guides, chefs, doctors, icefall doctors, helicopter pilots and so on will also be needed. No one person can go up the mountain on his own! You need to work with others, as a team, to accomplish this feat. It is a feat that is impossible on your own! This is where teamwork comes in. This is where the wisdom of being able to work in a group is essential.
For instance, the very first person who climbed Mount Everest was a man called Tenzing. He hired, organized and led a large team of over two hundred people for the journey to the top of the mountain. To get just two people to the summit, the team brought 10 high-altitude climbers. The team required almost 2.3 tonnes of equipment and food and these supplies were carried from Kathmandu on the backs of porters, for a distance of 290 kilometres up and down Himalayan ridges and over rivers crossed by narrow rope-and-plank bridges to the base camp. Another 40 porters with extensive mountain experience carried these supplies up the mountain. The strongest third of that team carried 340 kilograms of necessary equipment in to higher camps. Only Tenzing and three other porters had the strength and skill to go to camps near the summit.
The strategy was to allow one team to exhaust themselves just to get equipment up the mountain for the next group to use. Then two-man teams would work their way up the mountain, find the paths, cut steps and a path and securing ropes. Tenzing, the man who reached the top of the mountain said:
“You do not climb a mountain like Everest by trying to race ahead on your own, or by competing with your comrades. You do it slowly and carefully, by unselfish teamwork. Certainly, I wanted to reach the top myself; it was the thing I had dreamed of all my life. But if the lot fell to someone else I would take it like a man…”
We have already looked at the importance of working alone as a leader. There also come the time when your success as a leader is directly related to your ability to work with other people. It is the wisdom of the serpent.
Notice that the same animal that is usually found alone can function with a large team of other snakes. To be wise as a serpent you must be able to function with a team. A leader must be able to delegate. He must also be able to work with many other people. Some people are only able to work well alone. That is not the wisdom of a serpent! You must be able to work alone but also be able to live and work with other people.