As a teenager, Mark was bitten by the cycling bug, and last year the endurance athlete achieved the astonishing feat of cycling around the world in 80 days (well, 79, actually), inspired by Jules Verne’s adventure novel.
In case you were wondering, the previous record stood at 123 days, and Mark had some interesting perspectives around goal setting. You could, he said, choose to simply break the record – so aim for perhaps 122 days or maybe a little less, say 120. But he wanted to see what was really achievable, so he started from the standpoint of 80 days and worked back from there. Sure, you need to cycle an average of 240 miles every single day, give or take a couple of continency days, but there’s much more to it than that. And yes, you assemble an incredible team to get and keep the show on the road – performance managers, navigators, team leaders, film-makers and media managers both back at base and travelling with you – but at the end of the day it’s Mark’s ability to set the vision which sets all of that in motion.
It’s no good hiring talented individuals and giving them responsibility if you don’t actually let go and give them the room to do their jobs.
He had some fascinating points to make about what leadership really means, and the power of true delegation. It’s no good hiring talented individuals and giving them responsibility if you don’t actually let go and give them the room to do their jobs. I think we all know that, but the reality can be more challenging than you imagine, especially if you’re anxious about meeting client expectations. On the other hand if someone wearily getting on their bike at 4.00am on the 54th morning in a row, who has concerns about some detail or other, can find it in themselves to go through the proper channels to express those concerns (that is to say, feeding back up the chain of command so it can come out the other side), rather than tearing someone off a strip out of sheer frustration, it puts the trials and tribulations of organising an influencer round-table, for example, into perspective.
We asked Mark to come and speak to us because we felt that there was so much we could learn from him about ambition, about leadership, about working in teams under pressure, and above all else about the way that effective communication is at the heart of success. As Mark says, whilst the expedition world and the world of business are entirely different, there’s a lot of commonality when it comes to putting teams together and making them work to the best of their ability. Clearly articulating expectations, actively listening to what’s needed and what he calls ‘going beyond technical ability’ are crucial characteristics of high performing teams and their leaders.
What did Mark have to say about #thinkdo, one of the central tenets of how we do business? Watch the video below to find out.
Title Photo © Cyclist