Elixan Consulting
Performance Leadership Engagement


leadership, culture, performance

Sign up to get new blog posts straight to your inbox. 

Leading in the unknown

Recently I did some work with a client where we used indoor skydiving for leadership development.  So, what does indoor skydiving and leadership have in common? Actually, everything!

Most people when faced with a new challenge, new task or an unknown in the marketplace have one question they ask themselves subconsciously - "Am I seeking security or satisfaction?".  There is heaps of research conducted by Human Synergistics that suggests when we seek satisfaction we are more effective.  Effective in relationships, work achievements and organisational performance .

When we seek security we can behave passively.  That is, we look to please others, follow the rules, depend on others to make decisions or avoid decision making all together.  Alternatively, when we seek security we can behave aggressively. That is, we look to oppose others, control others, compete with others or be perfectionistic.  

However, when we seek satisfaction we behave constructively.  That is, we look to achieve, self-actualise, develop others and collaborate.  We have people and task in balance.

What I noticed when leaders stepped into the wind tunnel to indoor skydive they reverted to their dominant style.  When stepping into the wind tunnel to skydive each leader was making a choice.  "Will I worry about how safe this new task is or will I feel the joy of flying like a bird?"

The team had recently used 360 feedback surveys - the Human Synergistics LSI tool. Interestingly, each person used their dominant style when approaching the unknown task.  The perfectionists were saying they just wanted to get the first step into the wind tunnel right. Those with low self actualisation, lacked self belief, were nervous and fearful.  Those who were more passive gave up as they felt scared.  Those with competitive styles, were comparing themselves to others and worried that others would laugh at them.  Finally, those with constructive styles had a blast and learnt some awesome moves in the wind tunnel.  They loved the adrenaline rush.  They even were able to collaborate together in the wind tunnel and do some coordinated moves.  Pretty awesome for first timers.

While everyone improved and had a good time, what I noticed was that those who had constructive styles learnt more quickly, had less "internal noise" to work through and seemed to enjoy the experience heaps more.

So, do you know what your first reaction is when faced with a new challenge or when facting the unknown? How about your team? Are you seeking security or satisfaction?