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Sean Chapple: "When I am looking for fellow team members, I do not look for super athletes, I look for those who have a single-minded determination, are self-motivated and have a sense of humor." In the image, Chapple and his 2006-07 Royal Marine team, Andy Brown, Craig Hunter and Paul Mattin.
courtesy Sean Chapple, SOURCE
"It is about everyone being committed to achieve success and working as a team to achieve it."
courtesy Sean Chapple, SOURCE
"Always start out with the end in mind and plan, plan and plan. I begin by answering the what, why, who, when and how to provide a road map to the pole."
courtesy Sean Chapple, SOURCE

Opinion: Royal Marines Officer Sean Chapple about polar teamwork and success (Part 1/2)

Posted: Jul 12, 2011 03:56 pm EDT
(Correne Coetzer) During the 2006-07 Antarctica season Sean Chapple led a team of three Royal Marines unassisted, unsupported from Patriot Hills to the Geographic South Pole. At the Pole they turned around and kited back, covering a distance of 2200 km.

The 2011-12 Antarctic season will be a busy season with all the teams commemorating Amundsen and Scott arrivals at the South Pole a hundred years ago. With less than four months before the first teams set foot on Antarctica, Sean Chapple shares some of his experience at ExplorersWeb.

Today Sean discusses what makes the difference between teams who succeed in turning their dreams into a reality and those who dont, as well as the role of the leader and how a team is managed on the road to success.

Turning a Dream into Reality

I am often asked what makes the difference between teams who succeed in turning their dreams into a reality and those who dont? They all share the same desire, passion and determination to succeed, but many teams fail to even get to the start line to start their journey.

My experience is that most fail before they have even started because they underestimate the challenge of putting an expedition together. It is as physically and mentally relentless as the 55 day ski to the pole you may be planning for. When I read on ExplorersWeb of an expeditions arrival in Antarctica I know that they have achieved the most difficult part; what follows will be an amazing life changing experience.

Always start out with the end in mind and plan, plan and plan. I begin by answering the what, why, who, when and how to provide a road map to the pole. In the early stage this tends to focus on developing a business plan, establishing a fundraising strategy, writing a media and marketing plan, and creating a timeline of what activities need to be achieved by when, before I can move onto the next activity.

Remember the quote time spent on research is seldom wasted. There is a wealth of resources available for you to learn from others through the Internet, books or just spending time speaking with other explorers. Dont forget to focus on the expeditions that did not succeed to try and discover 'why' to make sure you dont fall foul of the same mistake!

Finally, of course, luck can play its hand in the planning and preparations, but you must create opportunities, and grasp any that come your way. Never lose an opportunity to promote your expedition, accept an invite to a dinner and always carry a pocket full of expedition business cards. I once received a late invite to a black tie dinner when I was away from home. I accepted the invite, jumped in my and did a 3 hour round trip to my home to get my dinner jacket and got back just in time for the dinner. That evening I secured the final £40,000 in sponsorship!

Leadership and Team Work

Aside from considerable organizational skills, the role of the leader and how the team is managed is essential to success. My approach has always been quite relaxed to encourage my fellow team members to take ownership and responsibility for the expedition.

Although I am the formal leader I am continually looking at opportunities to empower my team members to take on the role of leader. During the planning and preparations, this may be the appointment of specific responsibilities such as fundraising, marketing, equipment, rations or safety.

The secret of effective leadership is, knowing when to lead and when to follow. Know when team members have the capacity, or capability, to take the lead on a particular role and know when you need to take the helm until they have gained the confidence, knowledge and experience to take over.

Most expedition teams are made of friends who have come together with the dream and ambition of skiing to the Pole. The crucial part is that everyone shares a common purpose and is committed to working as a team. It is not about liking one another, of course, it helps! It is about everyone being committed to achieve success and working as a team to achieve it. When I am looking for fellow team members, I do not look for super athletes, I look for those who have a single-minded determination, are self-motivated and have a sense of humor.

Effective teams consist of people who respect individual differences, who recognize that everyone has a different perspective and that everyone brings something different to the team. Recognizing this diversity gives a team strength and produces much greater and efficient problem solving.

Spend time to really understand your fellow team members, their likes, dislikes. Psychometric profiling tools, such as the Margerison-McCann Team Management Profile, are great tools for understanding deeper team dynamics. Time spent on building a high performance team will be priceless on the ice.

Check here to read Sean Chapples strategies on the ice.

During the 2006-07 Antarctica season Sean Chapple led a team of three Royal Marines unassisted, unsupported from Patriot Hills to the Geographic South Pole. At the Pole they turned around and kited back, covering a distance of 2200 km.

Sean spent an earlier career as an officer in the elite Royal Marines gaining operational and management experiences across the globe. Sean has held positions in senior commercial leadership roles and is currently employed as the Project Manager of a 200 strong multi-national organization.

Chapple has written several books, with his polar adventures as background.


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