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What Does & Does Not Make A Good Leader?

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

A lot of people these days are engaged in hiking, backpacking, kayaking, mountaineering, and many other outdoor activities available. We do it for adventure, camaraderie, challenge, our physical and mental health, for competition, fundraising, and just the desire to get out into nature.

You may be able to manage a short hike or an overnight camping trip near where you live, but if you want to explore deeper, go into unfamiliar territory, for a lengthier period or run an international venture for a group, going it alone is not an option.

Avoid Ego!

Ego can often be detrimental in a leader for many reasons, and speaks to the persons 'self-importance' which creates: Poor decision making / Lack of empathy / Resistance to Feedback / Arrogance / Poor Team Dynamics / Ineffective Communication / Defensiveness / Inflexibility / Narcissism.

While self-confidence and a healthy sense of self-worth can be beneficial for leaders, unchecked ego can be harmful and potentially very dangerous. Effective leadership often involves a balance between confidence and humility, with an absolute focus on the well-being and success of the team and individuals within the team.

Knowledge & Skills

Having qualifications from appropriate organisations that relate to your venture is vital. Another thing to look out for is local knowledge. Just because someone is a well-qualified leader does not mean they have good local knowledge. A venture leader with practical, technical and logistical knowledge in all aspects of the trip is a must. Should you be taking part in activities your trip leader is not qualified in, then he/she should put in place these qualified expertise for you.

Planning and organizing the logistics of a trip are vital. A good trip leader should be able to create a well-structured itinerary, manage reservations, and ensure that all necessary arrangements are in place.

Trip leaders should be adept at problem-solving. They may encou7km Inter issues with transportation, accommodations, health, or other unexpected challenges and should be able to handle them calmly and efficiently.

Experience & Enthusiasm

The more experience a venture leader has, the better. This will determine their decision-making ability for any given event during an trip or expedition. Not everything can be learned through books and often a decision is based on what they have experienced rather than what they have read is much preferred. Better to select a seasoned leader to guide you as they would know what is best for your venture.

Being enthusiastic about the adventure is vital, and a passion for travel and a genuine interest in the destination can make the trip more enjoyable for the participants. A trip leader's enthusiasm can be infectious and inspire the group.

High Standards

What standards is your venture leader adhering to? If your venture leader is part of a small or large organisation, they should be adhering to specific standards that relate to the type of trip you are planning to undertake. If the leaders operations have not been subject to assessment by a professional organisation, then we would always suggest a reconnaissance trip to the location you plan to take the group to. This is always money very well spent.

Medical Knowhow

Incidents and accidents are not common, nevertheless you must have a leader who is a qualified first aider, expedition medic, or has first aiders or paramedics in place. The risks on an international venture are different and often higher than those of our daily lives. These include the weather, the terrain, travel, activities and wild animals. If an incident happens good first-aid treatment is essential. You should expect your venture leader to have further plans in place regarding an overland route to hospital and knowledge of medical centres and hospitals in the area.

Caution, Communication, Teamwork

A leader with a cautious attitude is someone who will be taking time to consider all the aspects of your venture and ensuring that the group is well prepared, engaging in appropriate and risk assessed activities. Taking a greater risk than normal is a part of activities and international ventures but these risks must be managed by your leader, and the leader must also be experienced enough to dynamically assess and manage new risks that occur during the venture itself.

A trip leader often works with other staff members, guides, or local contacts. Being a team player and collaborating effectively with others is crucial.

Effective communication is essential. A trip leader should be able to convey information clearly, provide instructions, answer questions, and handle any issues or emergencies. They should also be a good listener to understand the needs and preferences of the group.


Group members may have varying levels of experience and different needs. A good trip leader should be patient, compassionate, and understanding, especially when dealing with diverse groups. This goes a very long way to ensuring that everyone has the best possible experience, and never feels liken they are bring the group down, or holding things up. These trips are very often about participants personal development and leaders must always be mindful of that, whilst participants are 'appropriately challenged'.


What is the sense in taking part in an international venture if you are not going to have fun as well as achieving your set goals? Yes, each venture has it’s own purpose but whatever the ethos and purpose of your venture it is important to have a leader who can make it fun as well. When you consider your group will be spending many days or weeks with the leader, it’s best to avoid robotic, stern and cold leadership styles.

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