Leadership Development Expeditions

Working Toward A Common Goal

Leadership Development Expedition

A Program Developed and text written by Neil McCarthy of McCarthy Consulting Group All questions should be directed to

Why a Leadership Development Course
Expanding perspective and experience is the core of leadership development.  In these unprecedented times we are being asked to be more imaginative, more focused, and more effective than ever before.  Leaders are needed that can fully engage physically, emotionally, and mentally, to excel personally and inspire others to overcome perceived limitations. 

Alpine Ascents and McCarthy Consulting are pleased to offer a leadership development program that will immerse participants in an experience that fully engages the attitudes and behaviors of high performance in ways that only the expansiveness and challenge of the mountains can provide.  We hope you will join us for one of the most enriching and applicable leadership development experiences you will ever encounter.

Leadership Development Overview
"Reaching the summit” has become a common theme of organization initiatives over the last decade,   synonymous with pursuing demanding objectives and organizational success.   When talking of organizational success, or failure, the conversation inevitably turns toward the impact and influence of leadership.  The literature on the importance of leadership and the qualities of good leadership is extensive but the ability to accurately and consistently predict and develop leadership is elusive.

We believe leadership is an adaptive skill, the process and procedures to do it well change as the environment changes and one must be willing and able to adapt to excel.  Successful leadership requires one to make new discoveries about oneself in relationship to the environment, to direct emotional energy toward an inspiring vision of the future, and to develop relationships resilient enough to experiment with achieving that vision.  To lead requires one to take risks to uncover what is possible in an organization, a team, a relationship.

Our definition of a leader is: one who, with a strong awareness of oneself, interpersonal dynamics, and the environment, acts with confidence to influence and inspire those around them to strive for and achieve success.  Given this definition, the challenge for those that aspire to leadership is increasing ones capability to see and understand the intra-personal and inter-personal issues that stir the emotional landscape, and then interact with confidence in the often uncertain environment of human relationship.  

The Mountains as the Medium for Development
While science and research have been able to map the landscape of human processes in relationship in great detail, just as cartographers have been able to map the mountain landscape in great detail, much is lost in translation when we take our two dimensional paper map into the multi-dimensional world of human motivations and interactions. For those of you that are familiar with reading topographical maps of the wilderness you likely understand the difficulty of choosing your route solely based on contour lines that represent 40 ft intervals. It is easy to choose a route based on what the map suggests will work, only to discover there is a 39 foot cliff standing in the way of the direction you wish to go. Human motivations and interactions can present us with a very similar experience. Great leaders not only accept and understand this eventuality but develop their capabilities to route find through these obstacles while keeping their team focused on the current task and motivated to continue on the journey to the summit.

Successfully traveling and climbing in the mountains, just like successfully navigating organizational life, depends on the individual’s ability to recognize changes in their own physical and mental functioning as well as the functioning of their team members.  In the mountains, we are constantly forced to adapt to changing temperature, terrain, energy levels, thoughts of safety and ability, etc….and the ability to negotiate these objective and subjective hazards are the elements that stand in the way of achieving the goal.  Life in the mountains is a crash course it learning to balance preparation, organization, process, management, and action.

 We believe there is no greater teacher of the most critical leadership skills: humility, the importance of relationship, and resiliency in the face of uncertainty, than the natural environment of the high mountains. 

What We Expect You Will Learn
Whether your organization is a global corporation, a small business, a non-profit, a community group, or simply a family, success depends on collective action, and collective action requires leadership.  This program is intended to offer individuals an engaging experience to increase awareness and confidence to influence and inspire collective action in the constantly changing and dynamic environment of organizational life. 

While attempting to reach the summit of a high peak in the North Cascades of Washington or complete our wilderness backpacking route, we will use the events of each day to discuss, debate, and develop the skills, attitudes, and behaviors of successful leadership.  Emerging leaders will learn how to recognize a variety of leadership opportunities, translate awareness into action, and fully evaluate the results.  Experienced leaders will be challenged to define and test the leadership theories that guide their actions and develop systems thinking skills to recognize patterns and interdependencies.  All participants will be challenged to explore their resiliency for leading during times of uncertainty and adversity.

There is a saying, “Leadership can’t be taught, but it can be learned.”  In the day to day itinerary you can see what we expect to encounter in the mountains and aspects of leadership we have associated with those events. Ultimately what you will learn is for you to discover.

Who Should Participate
These expeditions are for anyone who wants to rapidly and dramatically expand their leadership perspective, experiences, and capabilities.  Participants will want to be physically active, able to carry a 45lb (Wilderness Backpacking) up to 65lb backpack (Mountaineering,) and willing to expose themselves to primitive living conditions (we don’t come across many bathrooms out there).  You do not need previous mountaineering experience.   We will be instructing you on foundational mountaineering skills and techniques necessary to safely and effectively move through the environment.

Program Options:

3 day Summit Climb
Mt. Baker is unique with respect to its great mass of snow and ice and its easy accessibility.  It requires less than one day of hiking to reach the glaciers.  The climbing route ascends via some of the largest and most scenic glaciers in the contiguous US.  While the climbing is strenuous, physically active individuals typically find it exhilarating.

4.5 day Wilderness Backpacking
For those that want an adventurous mountain experience without the technical climbing and additional weight on their backs.  Leaving the trail, travelling cross country, and camping where the terrain allows, is something the overwhelming majority of back country travelers never experience, but it is exactly what we will be doing in the mountains of the Cascades or Olympics.  This liberating experience requires  keen awareness, creativity, and focus.

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