Travelling is traditionally considered a welcome break from a stress-laden work life and why not. We all deserve a time off, parking ourselves either by the beach or close to the mountains doing nothing except gazing in the abyss. But, hang on! How about travelling because it can give you a change in perspective not just personally, but professionally too? Surprised? Don’t be. Being well-travelled can actually give any business leader a competitive edge at the workplace. It makes you a better leader in comparison to your colleagues who’ve probably not even bothered exploring even their backyard! In short if we were to say, travelling has a plethora of leadership lessons for all.
Here’s how travel does what it does because it’s not just your personality that takes you places, but your life experiences too.
When you travel, you set your foot out of a “known” comfort zone. You get busy not just spending time on Instagram, but also making an effort to acquaint yourself with cultural and social norms that may be totally new to you. As a matter of fact you may not even know the local language, but will still try and connect with the locals in some way. The first lesson you learn is accepting differences between you and the people around you and probably bond over a cup of piping hot tea totally unconsciously. Certain lessons learnt find applicability at the workplace too for you interact with so many during the day.
Anyone who has travelled can tell you that managing time is crucial to be able to make the most of the holiday. Right from booking tickets and B&Bs in advance, to planning an itinerary, all of it needs strategic planning and prioritizing, evaluation and if required, even rescheduling. Acing these skills helps you learn how to differentiate between urgent and important and scheme out your to-do list appropriately and enjoy after office hours.
When you travel you are thrown out of your cozy, comfort zone and the best you can do is to complain less and adapt. Learn to redefine comfort and face your fears. Imagine you’re camping in a forest and the only way to cook food is using firewood when back at home you could microwave Maggie in 5 minutes. Hurts to even think, right? But you still do what the situation demands of you. Business too is all about change so it’s important you are open to change and try new things even if you fail the first time.
A good decision maker weighs the pros and cons, and with careful planning implements decisions. When you’re travelling you’re constantly making and taking decisions right from where and how you’re going to travel, to what and where you’ll eat and sleep, to working out your finances. You also prepare a plan B for ‘just in case’ situations. Travelling teaches you to plan ahead and take sound decisions.
Makes you a team player
Whether or not you’re a team player, travel can unquestionably make you one! It teaches you the importance of how everyone matters in a team something every successful business leader knows. Take for instance this situation: You have a flat tyre, your vehicle’s engine broke down and to top it all, it begins to rain bang in the middle of a forest you were driving through. Can you work a solution alone? Most probably, no. Those who travel with you take up responsibilities to get out of a less than ideal situation. When you work in a team, you eventually start valuing everyone’s contribution even if it is the pantry boy who asks you for a coffee. Travel teaches you empathy and the importance of being compassionate and collaborative.
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The more you travel, the more you think outside the box. When you meet new people and see new places your mind becomes willing to explore and be inspired. Travel fuels your creativity and get more innovative and inventive. You stop thinking in patterns. Because of this you get busy with permutations and combinations to work out a business idea or how to handle your team or approach a problem.
You see there are so many leadership lessons travel imparts, doesn’t it? Why do you then either not travel or think of travel as an antithesis of serious work. The two are a good blend. Pack your bags, see the world and come back a better leader!