Four lessons from a polar explorer about personal development and team leadership

Antony Jinman is most widely recognised for being the twelfth brit to have skied to the Geographic North Pole and ski solo to the Geographic South Pole. As a qualified International Mountain Leader, Antony leads teams in all manners of challenging environments. He is also the founder of LiketoBe, an online network for young people to achieve their career aspirations and for employers to create their optimum future workforce. Antony’s commitment to developing others has earned him an Honorary Doctorate in Education (Ed.D) from the University of the West of England.

Antony Jinman is a polar explorer, team leader, founder and a speaker at the HR in Housing Conference and Exhibition 2019

Antony Jinman is a polar explorer, team leader, founder and a speaker at the HR in Housing Conference and Exhibition 2019

27 March 2019

Lesson 1. Organisational skills and project management

One day, I woke up and decided to complete a solo South Pole expedition. It took a further 12 months of planning and organising before I even made it onto ice. A daunting task of completing a 730 mile solo expedition (the big project) begins with one small step and then another, breaking the challenge down into achievable goals, the first being the creation of a project plan and forming a supporting team.

Lesson 2. Timekeeping

Once I was actually on the ice, I found comfort in holding to a routine and keeping to a schedule. My day would start at 6am, I would have my breakfast and be packed and ready to go by 7:30 am, no matter the weather. I would then ski for 1 hour and 10 minutes, because I knew I could ski two nautical miles an hour, which I repeated eight times a day, only stopping for 10 minutes at a time. Keeping to this schedule ensured I completed the challenge.

Lesson 3. Training

Training to succeed is important not only to learn new skills and keep those skills fresh but also to undertake physical training, which helps to prepare the body and also the mind. In my early 20’s, I received a medical discharge from the Royal Navy for depression after only serving two years. Undertaking regular skills courses and workshops over the years has helped me learn new skills, form new friendships, and connect with people who have gone through similar episodes of depression in their lives.

Lesson 4. Recruitment of team

Having now been on over 25 expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctica, I have learnt the value of forming a close team in some of the world’s most challenging environments. I have learnt to trust my instincts whilst selecting my teammates. Tempers can get frayed and people can fall out over the most simplest of things when under stress. In situations of stress and potential conflict, I stop, take 10 breaths and say to myself, ‘What three words would this person be using to describe me right now?’ This has been invaluable in defusing conflicts.

Antony will be speaking at the HR in Housing Conference and Exhibition 2019 on 24 April.

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