Travel Makes You A Better Leader

From the blog of Kevin Roberts, executive chairman of Saatchi & Satchi: 

Those who have traveled will understand that it provides much more than an escape from daily routine. Roman philosopher Seneca said “travel and change of place can impart vigor to the mind” and how right he was, and continues to be.

Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures, is a full believer in the value created by travel both personally and professionally, to the extent that he lets his employees travel for free. An article by Lisa Evans on Fast Company highlights the wisdom gleaned by Tip through his globe-hopping, and in particular the profound effect it has had on his company’s operations and his leadership style.

He recalls a trip to Tibet that taught him about decision-making based on spirituality, obstacles and karma, which influenced his approach to decision-making in business. Instead of relying on data like he always had, he started making decisions based on his gut instinct, recognizing that a big part of business is emotional. Big decisions with heart; little ones with head. 

Organizing and leading an international mission trip is a further example of Roberts’ post about learning leadership from travel–especially with a group.

You know where you are going and why. In our case, an orphanage ministry in Tijuana with guidance from Isaiah 58: 7, “is it  (proper fasting) not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?”

  • recruit a team around their hearts and the tasks you hope to achieve.
  • plan the logistics of travel down to the minute–flights, ground transportation, meals, projects, downtime.
  • budget the trip and raise funds.
  • hold team building meetings to prepare for the trip
  • provide guidance through the travel.
  • make decisions on the spur of the moment as situations change.
  • keep the budget in the back of your mind as you make decisions on spending the money as the trip unfolds.
  • keep the needs, desires, and vulnerabilities of each team member in mind as part of the decision process.
  • remind the team why we are where we are.
  • rejoice at moments when God breaks through the fog; grieve for situations people find themselves in.
  • make decisions based on grace

There are probably more. My travel has certainly broadened my understanding of the variety of peoples, yet also their similarities. I’ve learned to think quickly and with my gut rather than waiting for data to eventually filter in. I’ve learned when you just have to “go with the flow” when situations change. In other words travel helped me grow up. How about you? I hope not like many people in my county who rarely travel more than 50 miles even today.

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