Effective leadership requires a broad mix of attributes, including “physical intelligence”, as a group of industry heads found out recently as part of Keogh Consulting’s Extend Experiential Leadership Adventure. KATHY SKANTZOS spoke to Keogh’s Lorena Clayton.

Pushing leaders beyond their comfort zones is one way to encourage them to explore their resilience, persistence, team building and problem-solving skills.

That’s precisely what a group was required to do as part of Keogh Consulting’s Extend Experiential Leadership Adventure, taking on a seven-day, near 100km trek through Queensland’s picturesque Lamington National Park.

Designed to put the group members’ physical intelligence (PQ) to the ultimate endurance test, the task was the third component of the four-month leadership program.

It is centred around Keogh’s Wisdom Wheel development model encompassing PQ, emotional intelligence (EQ), spiritual intelligence (SIQ), and technical leadership skills (TQ).

The driving force behind the Extend Adventure, Keogh Consulting Senior Consultant Lorena Clayton, said the program pushed participants to explore how they turn up as the best version of themselves.

Lorena was joined by leadership and adventure facilitator Wayne Enright, and fellow Keogh consultants Ian Geddes and Ned Carrick.

“You really can’t show up as a good leader, as the best version of yourself, if you’re turning up tired, run down, burned out, self-medicating or not sleeping,” Lorena explained.

Some days were long and tough, with leaders returning in darkness with only headtorches lighting the way, and other moments over the week were focused on mindfulness and the connection to nature.

However, Lorena says trekking was only part of the challenge.

There were intellectual challenges, grounding nature activities, a chance to review 360-feedback, and some nights telling stories around the campfire.

The week was focused on building teamwork, creative thinking, problem solving, gratitude, and courageously showing vulnerability as a leader.

“There were some fun leadership challenges and physical problem-solving, and a treasure hunt that went through the jungle, as well as all the hiking,” Lorena said.

“We also got our leaders doing an art class where they drew their happy place and, interestingly, nobody drew a picture of their desk and their computer,” she added.

David Macartney, an Extend participant from Brisbane-based Emmanuel City Mission, said the trek allowed him to push his boundaries and confront his performance as a leader while gaining new perspectives from others in the group.

“I was humbled and encouraged the entire trek as I confronted behaviours I need to improve in order to find the best solutions to problems,” he said.

“It was a beautiful trek and led by very sensible, wise, capable facilitators.

“The high variability of the trek meant it was able to challenge something different in each of the participants,” he added.

Lorena said there were many “lightbulb moments” and some participants said it had been a life-changing experience, with shared camaraderie, support and connected conversations.

“We had some big moments where leaders had to step into their own vulnerability,” Lorena explained.

“The big things were people realising that as leaders they’re a lot more successful if they allow themselves to be vulnerable.

“We had some tears, including happy tears when people accomplished things they didn’t expect – some people just couldn’t get over how much they’d achieved physically doing that hard trek.

“For some people it was probably the hardest they’ve pushed themselves.

“There were other leaders realising that they’re so much better as leaders if they don’t try to be indestructible.”

The final workshop in the four-part program is technical intelligence, in which the group will look at leadership styles and technical skills about how they can empower others.

For more information on Keogh’s Extend program, please contact Lorena Clayton.