Servant Leadership Team Tackles Everest Base Camp

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Oxygen For Leaders, an executive coaching and consultancy organization for churches, non-profit organizations and corporations, will sponsor its second leadership development trek to Everest Base Camp beginning Oct. 4. Six men and one woman will participate in the 18-day trip, during which the team will discuss and practice leadership principles, including servant leadership, a model that considers the needs of other individuals and the organization before self.

Having recently turned 50, this trip to Everest is on my 'bucket list' of things to do in my lifetime

Oxygen For Leaders, an executive coaching and consultancy organization for churches, non-profit organizations and corporations, will sponsor its second leadership development trek to Everest Base Camp beginning October 4, 2008. At nearly 18,000 ft. in altitude, Everest Base Camp is the staging area for climbers attempting to summit Mt. Everest, the world's highest peak.

Six men and one woman, all from Middle Tennessee, will participate in the 18-day trip, during which the team will discuss and practice leadership principles, including servant leadership, a model that considers the needs of other individuals and the organization before self.

The team is led by Ed Smith, Ph. D., an expert in managing change within business and faith-based organizations. Smith is president of Oxygen For Leaders, a division of Franklin, Tenn.-based Cool Springs Resources, and he has more than 20 years experience working in commercial banking, church and non-profit organizations.

Smith refers to his brand of the model as "servant leadership on steroids," explaining that an effective servant leadership implementation is "seeing one another excel to such a high degree that the desired organizational results are achieved."

According to Smith, leading people through change is similar to the acclimatizing process one goes through when reaching higher altitudes in mountain climbing. Developing a shared, compelling vision is the first step in reaching the summit.

"Too often the tyranny of the moment rules, and the vision that leadership requires vanishes," he said.

Smith's company helps leaders understand the existing organizational culture and create an appropriate transition strategy. Oxygen for Leaders consultants then coach leadership in getting the organization on the right path to achieve its objectives.

"When leading groups through a transition, it's important for leaders to understand that people need time to adjust," he noted.

"I use the metaphor of base camp as the time of preparation; gaining altitude as implementation; 'the death zone' as the determination needed to complete the process; and the summit as successfully achieving desired results."

For Scott Moody, director, state government affairs for GlaxoSmithKline, the trip also will serve as a fundraising event for the Kentuckiana Epilepsy Foundation.

"Going to base camp is more than just a physical goal for me, because it gives me an opportunity to bring attention to this very worthy organization as well as promote the contribution of funds for the accomplishment of its 'Everest-sized' vision," said Moody, who serves on the foundation's board.

In Oct., the team will fly from Nashville, Tenn., to Kathmandu, Nepal, where preparations will be made to be airlifted to a high-altitude airstrip known as Lukla, a runway that was developed by the late Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to summit Mount Everest.

"In addition to a new physical and mental challenge, I'm excited about participating in this trip because it parallels my effort to take my company to a new level," said Mike Yarbrough, a triathlon competitor and owner of Laser One.

"Having recently turned 50, this trip to Everest is on my 'bucket list' of things to do in my lifetime," added Mark Bortz, president of Premier Companies.

Team members have been involved in months of physical and mental preparation, including a required reading list to prepare them for leadership development dialogue as well as cross-cultural interaction. While in the high altitudes of the Himalaya, the team will deliver educational supplies to some schools located in the Khumbu region near Mount Everest.

In addition to its Franklin location, Oxygen For Leaders has a second office in Lakeland, Fla. For more information, call 615-372-0606 or visit http://www.OxygenForLeaders.com.

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