High Altitude Leadership: What the World's Most Forbidding Peaks Teach Us About Success

( 4 )


High Altitude Leadership

Leadership is often a risky, lonely role possessing nearlyunbearable lows and fleeting highs. Despite this emotionally andintellectually draining roller coaster, a handful of leadersdeliver stunning results, with great consistency. They push pastcurrent leadership trends in order to achieve the most extremelychallenging goals. They don't fall prey to the platitudes orclichés we see so often in leadership theory. Instead, theysucceed by recognizing and ...

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High Altitude Leadership

Leadership is often a risky, lonely role possessing nearlyunbearable lows and fleeting highs. Despite this emotionally andintellectually draining roller coaster, a handful of leadersdeliver stunning results, with great consistency. They push pastcurrent leadership trends in order to achieve the most extremelychallenging goals. They don't fall prey to the platitudes orclichés we see so often in leadership theory. Instead, theysucceed by recognizing and surviving the dangers that challengethem as they take themselves and their teams to higher levels.These rare individuals are those that Chris Warner and DonSchmincke call High Altitude Leaders. In High Altitude Leadershipthey show how to become that kind of leader.

The authors present a new approach to leadership development,based on ground-breaking scientific research, field-tested underthe most brutal conditions on the most difficult summits, andsuccessfully applied in the training of executives, managementteams, and entrepreneurs throughout the world.?

To thrive in the face of today's business challenges andtomorrow's unpredictable risks, you need to become the type ofleader whose career, team, and company excels in the most extremeenvironments. You have to be the High Altitude Leader who usesevery bit of your talent and every ounce of your strength to guideyour team to peak performance. This book will show you how.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Fear, selfishness and arrogance - these are just some of the dangers that can threaten a climber's life, and in the high-threat world of global commerce and global security, they can destroy a country's or organization's future. Peak performance is about digging deeper to overcome the barriers of our own making. As Chris and Don assert, we have to dig deeper in order to climb higher."—Ralph Heath, Executive Vice President, Aeronautics, Lockheed Martin Corporation

"At last, something new has been written about leadership. The authors skillfully bridge the crosswalk between what is required of leaders in life and death situations scaling the world's highest peaks and the more mundane, but sometimes no less scary, halls of corporate America"—Cathy A. Trower, Ph.D. Research Director, Co-Principal Investigator Collaborative On Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) Harvard University, Graduate School of Education.

"Chris Warner is living proof that courage and intellect provide a powerful leadership combination. He and Don Schmincke serve as outstanding guides for exploring what it takes to lead an organization into difficult and uncharted terrain. If you're an executive who searches for the occasional inspirational gut-check, this book is a must for your shelf."—David Callahan, executive editor, SmartCEO Magazine

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Warner is a mountaineer and entrepreneur (founder of mountaineering outfitter Earth Treks); Schmincke is an author (The Code of the Executive) and leadership consultant, though he's an MIT-trained scientist and engineer at heart. Having met on a charity climb in the Andes, they discovered similar opinions on human nature and management techniques, from which they developed the concept of "high altitude leadership." Warner and Schminke identify eight psychological mindsets that paralyze organizations and individuals, undermining productivity: Fear, Selfishness, Tool Seduction, Arrogance, Lone Heroism, Cowardice, Comfort and Gravity. Each is discussed in its own chapter, beginning with an often tragic example from Warner's mountaineering life that shows pointedly how similar behavior can lead to workplace catastrophe. Schmincke prides himself on being a "mad scientist" rather than a management guru, focused on practical observation and common-sense application; he employs a deliciously sarcastic tone when discussing typical, ineffective managerial "magic cures" like Mission Statements and Codes of Values. The final chapter is devoted to caring, highlighting the importance of courage, moral code, efficacy, social responsibility, honor, patriotism, virtue, valor and sense of group identity. As much a life guide as a business primer, this book sports a helpful, engaging and positive plan for working together effectively and honestly.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470345030
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 10/27/2008
  • Series: J-B US non-Franchise Leadership Series, #219
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 214,026
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Warner is a climber, educator, entrepreneur, and anEmmy-nominated filmmaker. He has led more than 150 internationalmountaineering expeditions (from K2 to Kilimanjaro). Chris has beenteaching leadership and group development for more than twenty-fiveyears. In 1990 Chris founded Earth Treks, whose chain of climbingcenters serve over 100,000 customers a year.

Don Schmincke is a dynamic keynote speaker and mad-scientistturned provocative management sage. From CNN to the Wall StreetJournal, his use of anthropology and evolutionary genetics toremedy the high failure rates of management theories establishedhim as a consultant renegade and leading global authority. In 1990Don founded The SAGA Leadership Institute. Each year over onethousand CEOs find his work refreshingly irreverent andrevolutionary for bottom-line impact.

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Table of Contents




1. Danger #1: Fear.

2. Danger #2: Selfishness.

3. Danger #3: Tool Seduction.

4. Danger #4: Arrogance.

5. Danger #5: Lone Heroism.

6. Danger #6: Cowardice.

7. Danger #7: Comfort.

8. Danger #8: Gravity.

9. The Journey Begins.



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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 28, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    The best leadership book I've read in many years

    The book opens on K2, the world's second tallest and most dangerous mountain. In the first few paragraphs some one falls thousands of feet to their death. As a reader, I was hooked. As a leader I was blown away. The authors outline 8 dangers that every leader faces. From fear to selfishness, cowardice to comfort, and more. Each danger is introduced with a gripping mountaineering story (Chris Warner is incredible), followed up by their research into high performing teams, combining for very practical solutions to the very problems I've faced in my career. <BR/>This book is very different from the many leadership books I've read: for one it reads like a novel. I devoured the book in a few hours. Secondly it debunks so much of the politically correct solutions that consultants recommend. If you lead a team, of any size, you will benefit from reading this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2011

    High Altitude Leadership

    Chris Warner's theories go beyond pen and paper. His concepts erupted over time and during hardships where leadership was key to survivability. These hardships consist of over 150 international mountaineering expeditions to include reaching the summit of Mount Everest and K2 (Warner & Schmincke, 2009). This is remarkable given that 1 in 50 climbers die attempting Everest and 1 in 4 on K2 and Warner is one of only nine American climbers to have summated both peaks (Warner & Schmincke, 2009). In addition to personal conquests, Warner owns three indoor climbing gyms in the Washington D.C. region and provides leadership development seminars for the Wharton School of Business (Warner & Schmincke, 2009). After over 25 years of adventure, Warner teamed up with Don Schmincke and published his leadership theories in a book called High Altitude Leadership.

    Warner's Leadership and Organizational Theory

    Does summiting a mountain translate to leadership? According to Warner and Schmincke (2009) it does. Warner's theories revolve around eight dangers of high altitude adventure which include "fear of death, selfishness, tool seduction, arrogance, lone heroism, cowardice, comfort, and gravity" (Warner & Schmincke, 2009, p. xxvi).

    Teamwork, communication, adaptation, and a common goal are the crux to Warner and Schmincke's (2009) High Altitude Leadership theory. When climbing Everest, the teams mission is clear and without teamwork and a common goal reaching the peak becomes impossible. In corporate America, however, employees often behave like members of an orchestra warming up. They work independent of one another, without a common goal, and create illogical noise. Warner and Schmincke's theory puts a conductor at the podium, transforming this unorganized group into a harmonious team where individual talents produce harmony while reaching a common goal.

    The descriptive details related to High Altitude Leadership alone make the book a great read; the theories on how they apply to everyday life make this book a gem. I recommend this book without any hesitation.

    Warner, C., & Schmincke, D. (2009). High altitude leadership : what the world's most forbidding peaks teach us about success (1st ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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  • Posted September 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Leadership lessons from the world's highest mountains

    Chris Warner certainly is not the first mountain climber to chronicle harrowing journeys and near-death experiences scaling the high peaks of the Himalayas. What makes Warner unique is his ability to extract critical lessons from his adventures and shape them to be relevant for business leaders at sea level. Warner and Don Schmincke have produced a fascinating book that pinpoints the qualities managers need to not just survive, but thrive. Bravery, teamwork and decisiveness, they say, are just as important in the conference room as on the Khumbu Ice Fall of Mt. Everest. getAbstract recommends the authors' sage advice. You'll find yourself on solid footing as you negotiate the higher elevations of leadership.

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  • Posted November 6, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Kudos for a Great Book!

    Finally, someone saw the wisdom in combining the world of high peak mountaineering with the corporate career. Indeed, the analogy goes way beyond just our working lives and can (and should) extend into the other - more important - areas of our life. <BR/><BR/>As a corporate human resources director, I seek books that will inspire me and prod me to think in different ways. Far too many of the books on the business book conveyor are viewed by me as "one-trick ponies". That is, they deal with a singular problem in a very limited sense. On several of my listmania's I have recommended Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why and The Crystal Horizon: Everest - The First Solo Ascent as "management" books that for me, teach leadership far better than the run-of-the-mill business leadership materials. This book is vastly different due to its scope and ability to establish a completely new mind-set. I find it to be a perfect fit between my desires and needs. <BR/><BR/><BR/>Chris Warner and Don Schmincke are to be congratulated on hitting the right cord with this book. This book's Oct '08 release is perfect timing as our American industries and organizations are in great need of a "different" leadership. <BR/><BR/>I hope you find this review helpful. <BR/><BR/>Michael L. Gooch, Author of Wingtips with Spurs: Cowboy Wisdom for Today's Business Leaders.

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