One of the first phrases you hear when you begin your two years at Wharton is “Stretch Experience.” It doesn’t take much soul searching to understand what that means, but with the myriad of opportunities available at Wharton, it’s hard to pick and choose which stretch experiences will help you grow the most.
Whether it’s trying the rugby club, auditioning for your first acting role in Follies, or challenging yourself to an extreme expedition like a Leadership Venture, there are many ways to quickly learn something completely new in Wharton’s encouraging environment.
Although not especially sporty or outdoorsy, I chose to join an expedition to Atacama, an elevated desert in Northern Chile with one of the harshest climates on Earth. Not only is it the driest place on earth, but temperatures unexpectedly fluctuate throughout the day and winds, especially on some of the highest peaks can reach the level of Everest’s summit on a good day, according to our guides.
The expedition was one of many life-changing experiences offered through the Wharton Leadership Office. Expeditions, in particular, are one of the most experiential ways to quickly understand your leadership style and how you might act in the face of adversity.
For example, my team of five faced challenges like trekking through the desert, canyoning through icy cold water, rappelling off a cliff, and then climbing a volcano shin deep in snow at 18,000 feet.
Each day there was a Leader of the Day, who would set the tone for the day and assign roles for the team. At the end of the day, the team members would provide a 360 review of the challenges faced, the decisions made, and ways the leader of the day could improve.
Never before would I have dreamed that I would spend a week camping, but I am grateful for the transformative experience. Even though the expedition was only a week long, I walked away with clear takeaways, such as:
- Relationship-Oriented Leadership: I thrive with building relationships with my team members and believe that the relationships and culture of a team are essential for opening channels of communication to share information, maintain morale, and hone in on a shared goal.
- No Man Left Behind: It is important for all team members to trust that they are looked after and empowered—only then can they succeed at the task before them.
- Don’t Underestimate Yourself: Even when you think you can’t go further, you can push yourself to reach your goal.
Expeditions are only one of the programs offered through Wharton’s Leadership Office. They also have intensives, workshops, and executive coaching programs. All of these put you in eye-opening situations and provide lessons that you can apply every day.
Posted: December 8, 2015