Helping People to Succeed with Sylvia Forest
How can we help people to succeed when they are faced with the challenges that come with adventure? In this episode, Sylvia Forest draws upon her experience to share some of the key strategies that have allowed her to help others to succeed.
Sylvia has worked as a national park warden, mountain guide, guide trainer and examiner and is the current President of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides.
Safe environment: Anyone in a leadership position can work to create an environment that is as physically safe as possible, free of judgment and harassment, and full of support.
Involve people where you can: Involving people in the decision making process can help to give them ownership over the experience.
Create a team atmosphere: People want to feel like they belong. Involving people in the decision-making process, in leadership positions, and in tasks helps to create this.
Accept that people won’t always like what you are doing: Despite your best actions and intentions, you can’t be all things to all people. Knowing when to listen, when to push back and when to tune it out, is a hallmark of a great leader.
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[00:00:00] Sylvia Forest: Understanding what the true risk is and updating that information, not just once in the morning or once in the evening, but throughout the whole day. Making people feel included. And part of the decision-making process I think is extremely important. You’re getting buy-in from people and I think that risk communication, that that informing people.
Making them part of the solution is extremely important.
[00:00:30] Chris Kaipio: Welcome to Delivering Adventure. This is the podcast that explores what it really takes to share adventure like a pro with your friends, your family, and as a profession. My name is Chris Kaipio, and I’m coming to you from Whistler, British Columbia.
[00:00:48] Jordy Shepherd: And I’m Jordy Shepherd. Recording from Canmore, Alberta. After a lifetime of working extensively in different parts of the adventure guiding industry, Chris and I have teamed up to launch this podcast. In each episode, you’ll hear top adventure guides, managers, marketers, and athletes share their best stories, advice, and trade secrets.
The goal of this podcast is to share how you can take yourself and others farther from the mountains to the office and.
[00:01:17] Chris Kaipio: In this episode, we continue our interview with Sylvia Forrest on how she thinks we can get the best out of people so that we can help them to succeed. If you missed a last episode, Sylvia is an internationally certified mountain guide who’s based in Golden British Columbia.
In addition to guiding Sylvia works as a guide, trainer and examiner for the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides Training and Assessment Program. Sylvia is currently serving as the president of the ACMG, and she has also worked as a park warden in Canada’s Mountain National Parks.
[00:01:52] Jordy Shepherd: The nature of adventure is experiencing challenge, hardship, and at times danger.
If we were to navigate through these obstacles successfully, we’re going to need to be operating at our best. In this episode, Sylvia draws upon her experience working as a National Park warden, mountain Guide, guide, trainer and examiner, and her role with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides to share some of the key strategies that have allowed her to help others succeed.
[00:02:19] Chris Kaipio: Okay, let’s bring Sylvia back into the DA Studio to continue the conversation on how we can create an environment where people can perform at their best.
[00:02:28] Jordy Shepherd: What do you think the secret is to getting people to be able to perform at their best?
[00:02:34] Sylvia Forest: To your point, Jordy, uh, uh, yeah, I have done an awful lot of this kind of work, uh, starting off, uh, training park wardens and mountain rescue and various other things.
And then, um, A lot of my career in guiding, uh, revolved around, uh, leadership courses for women specifically. I did that for quite a number of years and I really enjoyed it. There was something very special about, about that environment. Um, typically, The, the women on these courses, um, were there because they needed a safe learning environment where they could really stretch their wings and, and, and learn in a non-threatening environment.
And so that’s what I’ve found is. Uh, one, we’re a team. We all work together and, uh, it’s very important to be supportive and understanding of where everybody is. Um, and support is, it looks, it looks like a lot of different things. Uh, there’s supporting people in terms of learning the technical aspects of whatever the activity is.
Let’s, you know, summer mountaineering, uh, winter skiing, um, in, in a very. Safe way. So just, you know, how to put on skins and minus 30 degree temperatures. How to, how to travel, how to navigate, how to, how to do these sort of more hard technical skills. But I think just importantly, if not more importantly, is the emotional, mental, psychological support.
And what that looks like to me is understanding when you can push somebody closer to their limits and when you need to back off. And that. Really putting yourself in their shoes. Everybody is different and you know, some women or some people, it doesn’t matter your gender or your, or your affinity. Um, You have, you have different risk tolerances.
And the job of the guide, I believe, is to understand those risk tolerances of each individual and to cater your, your teaching, your course, your guiding, whatever it is that you’re doing to those people as much as you possibly can. Um, if you push too hard, somebody may not have a very good experience. If you don’t push hard enough, they won’t feel fulfilled.
Um, for me, it’s understanding where people are at and making sure that I can bring them as close to that spot, that that perfect spot without pushing them over that spot. The bottom line is no matter what, it has to be safe. Like in my industry, in our industry, safety has to come first, and safety is physical safety, and it’s also psychological safety.
[00:05:35] Jordy Shepherd: And so with obstacles that, uh, might, might, uh, keep people from performing at their best, uh, in terms of external but also internal, um, self-imposed obstacles. What are some of those that you’ve seen people run up against and, and have to overcome?
[00:05:56] Sylvia Forest: Um, you know, I’ve already mentioned this, but uh, Acceptance and fear of failure. Fear. Fear of failure. Feel fear of being embarrassed, perhaps, uh, feel fear of being judged. And so fostering an environment where you’re not being judged, where, you know, I, I really work hard on having a team environment, a very supportive team environment.
It’s not, um, , it’s not, you know, all the attention is going to one person and not to another. You know, and, and I can tell you that the women’s leadership courses that I’ve done, one of the reasons I liked do doing them is the people that were there. They wanted to be there. They wanted to learn in a, in a fun, safe environment.
But, oh my God, the support, they were so supportive of each other. It made my job really, uh, and part of my job is fostering that team environment, pos fostering that, that environment of trust with each other.
[00:07:11] Jordy Shepherd: Do you have any examples of how you’ve helped people in your career, you know, through working for parks or, or in the guiding side of things, or as an examiner, uh, to overcome some of these obstacles?
[00:07:21] Sylvia Forest: I, I did have an opportunity, uh, was it last summer? Um, there are a number of, uh, initiatives that Jordy mentioned, uh, how the ACMG is, uh, uh, working a little bit more with affinity groups, um, to, to foster more diversity in the mountains, um, as is the Alpine Club and so on and so forth. So I had an opportunity last summer to take a group of, um, black indigenous women of color.
Up to the Wapta Ice fields, and some of these women had never been in that environment before, had never worn crampons, had never worn a harness, and had certainly never done things like walking across Icefield or doing Crema rescue. And some of them were very, very nervous. and we over overcome that.
Overcame that. I would say, um, basically through all the things I just spoke about, uh, we created. Amongst all of us, a team environment and, and actually, you know, one of the very first obstacles, I’m not sure how many of your listeners have gone up to, uh, the Bow Hut in summer, but, uh, one of the first things you have to do is cross a little boulder that spans the, uh, the outflow creek from, from, uh, the Bow Glacier.
[00:08:49] Jordy Shepherd: Yeah. It’s actually a, it’s a, and it’s a bit intimidating. It’s a pretty, it’s a big boulder, but it’s kind of like rounded on all sides. and it’s right over a canyon. It’s probably 30, 40 meters down to raging water where you absolutely, like if you fell, it would be catastrophic. Um, yeah. It’s, it’s, uh, yeah, and you’re just walking along a trail and then all of a sudden there’s this chasm and it, it’s like, it’s kind of like you’re in a movie, you know, like
It could, you know, it could be Lord of the Rings or something, you know, a set for that . Yeah. Just to, just to set the stage. Yeah.
[00:09:25] Sylvia Forest: Yeah, yeah. Gandalf walking across the, uh, chasm with the Bell Rock or something. Um, no. And, and, but to some people, that’s exactly what it would feel like. Like really quite frightening.
and you know, this is an hour in, on the very first day before we’ve actually had a chance to even develop any kind of these bonds or that kind of trust. It takes a while for that to happen. And, um, yeah, it was a very scary experience for all of them. Um, and the way we worked through it was as a team, we practiced it.
We took off our packs. We, uh, did a few moves just to kind of get started. Then we backed off. And then, you know, a couple of us took all of the packs over the boulder so that, uh, the women didn’t have to do that themselves. And then through coaching and spotting and, uh, positive talk, they all did it. And the euphoria on the other side of that boulder was palpable.
It was like, oh my God, we did this. And it was very much a, a team. A team. Uh, Effort to do that. And that set the stage for all the other crazy things that we did that weekend, like walking across a glacier here and doing crevasse rescue and, uh, all sorts of pretty amazing things.
[00:10:51] Jordy Shepherd: Yeah. Right at the heart of delivering adventure.
Mm-hmm. Yeah. And having people have that experience and, and, uh, come out of it often, not always, but often I find they’re a changed person. through having these experiences. Mm-hmm, which is pretty incredible to be part of.
[00:11:12] Sylvia Forest: You know, I, that’s absolutely true. Uh, some of them really did change a lot. Now, um, to reflect on that a little bit, uh, M some, perhaps most of the women on that course had never done anything like that before, but a couple of them actually had some pretty good skills.
And, um, making everyone feel included and asking the people with, uh, with um, uh, more of a skillset that were more comfortable in that environment to be a leader to. and, and they felt great because they are helping someone else. And you know, my experience too is some of the things that give me, and probably many people in this world, the best happiness is helping others.
And suddenly these people that were taking the course were in a position of leadership and I think they felt great about, but it’s not always, uh, easy with what we’re doing.
[00:12:09] Jordy Shepherd: Uh, how about, uh, yeah, discussing some situations or a situation where, uh, things were more difficult. Uh, you know, you kind of ran into someone who was, um, you know, hard, hard to work with or, you know, for a, any variety of reasons.
And, uh, and you, you overcame and managed that situation. This is, this is like a job interview. Yeah. a difficult, a difficult co-worker, co-worker, situation. No, no. We’re talking more about, uh, delivering adventure, not a job interview. You know, um,
[00:12:50] Sylvia Forest: uh, you know, I saw that question in your list of questions and I, I, I, I’m coming to str, I struggle with this a little bit in terms of, I’ve just been incredibly lucky in my career in that the people I’ve been in the mountains with, um, and certainly the people that I’ve had a chance to work with, have for the most part been quite remarkable.
And I think the reason for that is people really genuinely want to be there. They want to be doing what they’re doing, they’re loving it. And it’s pretty rare that I’ve had a situation where somebody was unhappy. A grump or, um, maybe just shouldn’t be there. Um, I did have a, a situation this year and I, I can’t even say it was, it was certainly not a single individual.
Um, but it’s more around the challenges that some guides face. If you have a, you’re working with a group that you’ve never worked with before, you meet them in the parking lot. And you’re responsible for this group, but in the group you have very divergent skillsets and, and, and, um, and desires personal goals.
So, you know, I had that this summer where, uh, it was a mountaineering camp where some people had never been mountaineering before and other people were extremely experienced mountaineers. And we are in the service industry. Our job is to try to provide the best product, to give the best experience to the most number of people that we.
And, uh, usually if you have smaller ratios, that’s a little bit easier to do. But even with smaller ratios, if you have people that have divergent skillsets or goals, that is a challenge. And, um, as guides, we try to make everybody happy, but we can’t always do it. Somebody’s maybe not going to be happy with the product that maybe they didn’t know what they were signing up for.
Maybe they thought it was something different. Maybe the guide thought it was something different. So I think, uh, the way, the only way that I can think of to manage that is, um, to one, always be professional. Maintain your professionalism. Always be respectful. Listen. Listen to people, they, people will really be happy if you actually listen to them wholeheartedly and be clear.
And sometimes you have to explain, listen, this is not a trip that you can do. They might not like it, but you know, we have to remember at the end of the day, bringing people home in one piece is our ultimate. So, uh, those are the kinds of adversity I’ve faced very rarely, but upon occasion and, uh, um, maintaining your professionalism and, uh, uh, being respectful and listening.
I think are the things that have helped me out.
[00:16:08] Jordy Shepherd: Excellent points.
[00:16:08] Chris Kaipio: So, Sylvia, creating an environment where people can excel, can take a certain amount of push and pull and getting those two things, uh, right, can be difficult. I’ve been fortunate enough to see you work on the board of directors, um, where you can do a.
Pulling, and I’ve seen you as an examiner, course examiner where you can do a little bit of pushing and pulling. How do you balance being firm with people and using a soft touch? Like what kinds of circumstances do you find yourself having to, um, really kind of step in and, and be a firm leader and say, yes, this is what you need to do and get somebody to, to focus, um, versus.
Using that softer touch to massage people’s ego and, and, you know, and that sort of thing.
[00:17:02] Sylvia Forest: You know, that’s another difficult question. Um, and I’m not sure if I have a great answer for you, but I, I think, um, I would just preface it by saying, uh, being aware of those skillsets is a pretty darn good start. Um, because you’re right, Chris, I’ve had a number of occasions where, um, for example, on.
Uh, avalanche courses where the goal is, the goal is to teach the curriculum, and the ultimate goal is to create a situation where people are successful. And so that, that’s a little different than guiding, but I think, I think it can be, I think the lessons can be transferred to guiding, uh, and that is, um, Be patient.
Listen on these courses, however, sometimes you are under a time crunch and you need to be very clear. You need to be very directive. So, I think your question is almost when do you listen? When do you allow somebody to, to go as far as they can? And when do you have to step in and be directive? That is very much a, a judgment call and you have to constantly be aware of, um. What point in the day, what point in the course, what point in the trip, uh, can you let people, uh, make up their own minds?
Do their own things? At what point do you have to step in and be directive? I think that takes a certain degree of sensitivity and, and self-awareness. I think self-awareness on the part of the guide is really important. Um, it is very easy and I’ve certainly done it not very often, but I’ve certainly done it where I’ve stepped on people’s toes unintentionally.
Um, if you do that and it happens, then you have to recognize it and take steps to apologize, explain whatever the case may be. Uh, on some courses you have to take people to a point where you can actually see if they’re going to be successful or not, and knowing when to pull the. These are all judgment calls and really it comes down to experience it.
I think it comes down to experience and self-knowledge and self-awareness. Uh, I firmly believe that a soft touch is really important in guiding, but there are absolutely times where you have to stay, step in and be directive for. For example, moving across a, uh, a slope in the summertime when there’s rockfall issues or, um, in the winter, if there’s an avalanche hazard, there are, you know, there are times that you have to step in for safety.
So again, I think it comes down to, uh, maturity, self-knowledge, and uh, communication.
[00:19:59] Chris Kaipio: Yeah, this is something I see a lot of newer guides struggle with. Uh, I actually see parents, uh, struggle with this, uh, at times when we can have the desire to be, um, friends, uh, with people and to, um, be popular and so we can end up deferring to letting them drive.
You know, the situation and then all of a sudden we end up in a, in a position where safety is an issue, or time is running out, or to get things done, to meet everybody’s needs, something has to happen and you have to take that leadership role. But people can, um, be hesitant to, you know, I’ve heard of instructors being pressured by parents to put their, you know, child in a situation where they shouldn’t.
and the instructor doesn’t really know how to handle it. And when I have told them, you know, listen, you are the boss. You need to take control. And, and if that ruffles some feathers, then that’s just the way it is. People can have a hard time with that.
[00:21:09] Sylvia Forest: You know, a lot of, uh, something that we are really working a lot more on.
And uh, yeah, it’s been around for a very long time, but I’m talking about risk communication and. Uh, I think risk communication is one of the biggest things that we as guides can do, um, to make sure that people are informed. I think in the past we’ve not always done a very good job of that. I think some people are better at it than others.
And when I say risk communication, um, when people go into the mountains, they want to have a good time. They want to push their limits, they want to have adventure, and they want to come. And part, I’ve talked on this, uh, podcast quite a bit about teamwork and Sure. As guides, we are in a leadership role and that’s part of a team.
Being a leader is part of a team, but the other part of a team is making sure everybody is on the same page, understanding what the hazards are, understanding what the true risk is, and updating that information. Not just once in the morning or once in the evening, but throughout the whole day, making people feel included.
And part of the decision-making process I think is extremely important. You’re getting buy-in from people and I think that risk communication, that that informing people, making them part of the solution is extremely important in the guiding.
[00:22:45] Jordy Shepherd: Yeah, they have extra eyes and ears and experience, um, that that should absolutely not be negated.
And, and it is, you know, it’s a, a guide guest relationship in this case, but it’s also a, a team, team environment for sure. And so, yeah, I agree. I always encourage people, if you see something, hears something, feel something, think something that, At all contrary to what’s going on. Talk, let’s talk about it.
Um, you know, hopefully in a safe location to take that, take that time. And there, there have been times where people have said, I don’t feel comfortable here, and. We, and my, my knowledge, you know, total knowledge of the place and situation is we’re fine. We just have to move along to get through this and then we’ll talk about it sometimes too.
Right? Um, in terms of the safety side of the program. Um, but, if at all possible, Yeah. You’re, you’re taking, taking a moment and saying, maybe I’m missing something here too.
[00:23:45] Chris Kaipio: I think you both raise excellent points and I think a lot of people who are not just working as, as guides professionally, but working with their families and friends can end up finding themselves in situations where there’s conflict because people are in, uh, a position where they are stressed and dealing with stress and pressures like time or risk and things like that.
And we generally don’t. Uh, confrontation. We try to avoid that, but I, I think what you’re both saying, and I completely agree, is that if you can build up that trust and understanding beforehand at the starch, you can avoid a lot of conflict, uh, further along, especially when people know that the decision making that you’re implementing is in their best interests to meet their longer term.
[00:24:40] Sylvia Forest: Yeah. And just to kind of recap a little bit of about what you’ve both said, um, you know, sometimes there’s just a, there’s a difference between, you know, a, a fear of something, for example, a fear of falling versus, um, you know, a fear from something that is external, like an objective hazard such as rockfall.
And, um, there. Sometimes there is absolutely no risk to the person, but they’re afraid. And, uh, and sometimes there’s actually a massive hazard that they are completely unaware of. So again, I think risk communication, keeping them informed, keeping ’em in the loop, um, making them part of the team is really important.
[00:25:29] Jordy Shepherd: And we do this stuff all day, every day and, and we, we can become a bit. Yeah, a bit, uh, desensitized to the whole environment that we’re in. And we can also forget that people, you know, somebody steps off a plane coming from New York as a client, you know, now they’re at elevation, uh, that they didn’t, they’re not used to being at even right.
In terms of the physical side of things. And then the whole environment is quite different. And so even a simple walk on a glacier I’ve found is sometimes I have to really put myself in their shoes and think, where are they coming? It’s like Shazam. They’re here and, and they’re, they’re into it. And I’m, I’m quite comfortable where we are and the weather’s good, and the, you know, the snow coverage is good.
And they’re just thinking, what if the, there’s crevasses here. I’ve heard about these crevasses now I’m, I’m, they’re, I can see one over there. What if there’s one right underneath me here and swallows me up, kind of thing. Right. And it’s, it’s just trying to, trying to, uh, put yourself in their shoes and realize, you know what this is.
Normal for them, even though it’s normal for me. And so how can I, you know, bring them into a comfort zone that’s reasonable and not just, you know, have them not say anything and be terrified and never go do that activity again.
[00:26:43] Chris Kaipio: Now, one thing I I’ve noticed, uh, with you, Sylvia, is, um, your ability to have a good debrief, uh, afterwards.
And I’ll share a story here and then ask a question as a follow up. Early in my guide training, I, I took an Outward-Bound course, uh, in Pemberton, near Whistler here where I live, uh, for six weeks. And part of the course we were up on the Pemberton Ice. And there was a situation where, uh, it was in the late spring, I think it was near the end of May.
Uh, we were actually ski touring and we approached a kind of a, a steeper gully. And if you imagine looking at the mountain side, there’s a gully on the left. It’s a little flatter on the right. And the instructor had had told us he wanted us to stay to the right, uh, because he felt, you know better about the, the snow conditions and the lower risk of avalanche, and he didn’t feel that way about the slope on the left.
Well, one of the participants had actually continued to head towards the gully. and, um, you know, Dave, the instructor said, you know, no, stop. I do not want you to go there. Stop. I don’t want you to go there. Um, but this person continued to go on there anyway, and then, you know, eventually made a, a turn and, and cut back.
And instead of just leaving it, you know, there, because it, it was a moment of quite a bit of tension, he addressed it. And what he actually found out was that she actually didn’t have the ability to turn to the left. And if you can imagine this, 25 years ago when, you know, we were in mountaineering boots with really old skis, with huge backpacks, it was really deep snow and it wasn’t that she was, um, ignoring his, um, You know his wishes it was that she actually just didn’t have the ability to make that turn.
And by having that conversation afterwards, it clarified the situation. It relieved attention and everybody was able to go away feeling much better a, about what had just happened. How do you approach situations that are, that are difficult, where people have been stressed and at the end of the day and, and that sort of thing.
What kind of debriefing process do you use and what kind of language do you find works well?
[00:29:09] Sylvia Forest: Um, yeah. I have done quite a number of debriefs in my life, in, in different, um, Different circumstances. Certainly. Uh, working in mountain rescue, uh, anytime you have an operation, uh, you always have a debrief afterwards.
There’s several different kinds of debriefs. Of course. There’s, uh, technical debriefs, operational debriefs, and uh, uh, more of a, um, uh, psychological debriefs, if you will. Uh, in my guiding career, uh, I always think it’s important to review the day with guests. Um, often. Uh, that that review is actually pretty straightforward if not much is going on.
But if it’s a more challenging day, um, having that debrief however you like to coach it is, is really important. Um, I always believe that, you know, you start the day with a, a nice. Discussion with your guests so that they know what the day is going to be, what they’re going to get into, what to expect. Uh, you may need to update that information throughout the day as conditions change.
And then it’s always nice to end the day, uh, reflecting on how the day went and, uh, It really, the kind of your question really depends on what the situation is. Is it, is it a rescue that we’re debriefing? Is it a, is it a guided trip? Is it a course, is it, um, you know, a certification course? So, the type of debrief really depends on the, uh, uh, the objective of the day and, and who’s there and, and what, what the mission of the trip is.
That said, um, the one thing I have. Very clearly is people need to be heard, people need to have a voice. So however I do my debriefs, the most important part is listening to others. And, uh, I do that by, you know, setting the stage, saying, you know, like, let’s just have a, you know, whether it’s over a glass of wine or not, if it’s on a course.
Um, and. You know, saying, okay, how, how did the day go for you? Did, did you meet your objectives? Is this what you expected? Did something happen today that you didn’t expect? Um, I try to ask leading questions, but mostly I try to be very inclusive and I don’t like to put my own perspective on it, uh, until the end.
If at. Uh, my perspective really depends on whether it’s needed or not. Mostly, I think, uh, depending on the type of debrief and, and, and the type of day, um, it’s about hearing from the people involved, you know, asking them, including them, letting them have a voice.
[00:32:01] Chris Kaipio: One of the biggest differences between an adventure and a misadventure is that an adventure is remembered as being a positive experience afterwards, and a misadventure is generally looked upon as being negative, and the story that people leave with can change. Can evolve over time and can end up moving in a trajectory that, uh, leaders and people in the position of a guide can often, I find, underestimate, uh, how people have, have felt.
And so I, I do find that the best, most skillful guides are able to have that conversation at the end to make sure that every. Does have that positive, um, memory when they, when they go away. So that’s not just sort of left to, to kind of build, uh, on its own. And that’s, you know, a series of episodes all, all on its own.
But switching gears a little bit, you’re currently serving as the president of the association, Canadian Mountain Guides. What do you think the ACMG can do to help people to. Achieve adventure. What’s its role?
[00:33:14] Sylvia Forest: Well, I mean, um, first of all, we have to remember that the ACMG is an association, it’s Association of Canadian Guides of Varying Certifications and, um, As such, we have, there are, you know, within the organization, we have people that work for private companies, we have independent guides, we have, uh, specialty guides, we have all sorts of guides.
Um, but regardless of whether you work for a big company or if you work independently, um, the whole guiding profession, first of all, It’s a service. That’s what we do. It, it, we are in the service industry and the goal of the guide is to provide the best possible experience for, uh, the client or the guest possible.
And how the ACMG, um, facilitates that. I would say, well, let’s just start with the fact that we have, uh, one of the best training and certification programs in the. We really are. I, I, I don’t want to, uh, you know, pat myself on the back too much because I’ve got nothing to do with it. Specifically. I do work for the training assessment program, but, um, I, I really do have to say that, uh, since its inception in 1963, the ACMG has become one of the best, one of the best in the world training and assessment programs.
So that means that our guides are. Some of the best trained and certified in the world. I think that’s a pretty good start. Um, we really try to promote, uh, education and safety, safety clinics. Um, we would like to start, you know, offering more, um, uh, awareness programs for the public. These are, we have many things that we’d like to do, but I think historically what we have done, Been the best.
Pretty, pretty much the best in the world at what we do. Uh, things that we still need to work on is, um, risk communication. I’d like to see guides be better communicators going
[00:35:24] Chris Kaipio: forward. So, what does your role as being the president of the ACMG mean to you?
[00:35:31] Sylvia Forest: Well, I have to say I’m very proud of, I’m very proud of the ACMG.
Uh, where it stands on the world stage as well as where it stands within Canada, providing exemplary service to the public. That’s something to be very proud of. I’m proud to be a member of the association. I’m proud to be a mountain guide and I have to say I am very proud to be, uh, leading the ship for a short period of time, helping the board of directors choose.
The direction that we want to go to be working as much as we possibly can in the public interest. That’s a major strategic priority for the board of directors and for the A C M G right now is to work towards, uh, uh, working in the best public interest. Um, we’ve undertaken a lot of new initiatives, uh, really trying to increase our diversity, equity, inclusion.
Um, these are all things that I think are important, uh, to Canadians and I’m pretty proud of the fact that we’re, we’re taking steps forward in these directions, branching out and not just being what we used to be down in the back in the 1960s, but really coming into the modern era.
[00:36:54] Jordy Shepherd: Thanks so much for this, Sylvia.
To find out more about the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, including their guide certification process, you can visit the acmg website at acmg.ca. We’ll post this link in the show notes when it comes to getting the best o people. What were some key takeaways from what Sylvia had to say so far?
[00:37:13] Chris Kaipio: Well, like every episode, Jordy, there were a lot of things to unpack. I’m just going to touch on a few keys though. The first one I want to touch on is a safe environment. People need a safe environment to perform at their best. Now, when I use the word safe in this context, I’m not saying that the environment is completely free of risk.
This is something that no one can g. However, anyone in a leadership position can work to create an environment that is as physically safe as possible, free of judgment and harassment and full of support. That support comes through skill development and psychological supports. Creating a safe environment allows people to perform in a way that allows them to push their limits because they aren’t overly fearful of getting physically, emotionally, or mentally damaged.
Another point I want to touch on is to involve people where you can, involving people in the decision-making process can help to give them ownership over the experience. When people are consulted, even in a small way, they can gain a measure of control. This can help them to feel that their environment is safer.
Having a measure of control is an important human need. When we don’t have control, we can feel less safe. Involving people also allows them to take a measure of responsibility for what happens. Another component of involving people that is very important is to communicate the risks that they will be exposed to and how they can be managed.
This is something that we have touched on in past episodes. Jordy, what were your takeaways, or did you have anything to add?
[00:39:00] Jordy Shepherd: Yeah, Chris, there were, Sylvia had some amazing topics and points there, and I’d like to touch on a couple. The first is the team atmosphere idea. Involving people in the decision-making process, in leadership positions and in tasks also helps to build a team environment.
People want to feel that they belong, and this is another important component of getting the best out of people. So building a team atmosphere can be a challenging task. There are four stages to how groups form that can help to guide leaders. These four steps are, and they all rhyme forming, storming, norming, and performing.
We don’t have time to get into each of these stages, but I can see this as being the theme of a future episode. For now, though, we have attached a link to an overview of these stages in the show notes. The second point I wanted to discuss was accepting that people won’t always like what you’re doing.
Unfortunately, when you’re in a leadership role, whether it be with your kids, family, friends, or as a professional, there are going to be times when people disagree with you. It’s just what happens. It doesn’t matter how good you are or how hard you work. Sooner or later, someone is going to leave unhappy despite your best actions and intentions.
You can’t be all things to all people. Knowing when to listen, when to push back and when to tune it out is a hallmark of a great leader. One principle that we can use to guide us has to do with motivation. If our decisions and actions are undertaken with the best interests of the people we’re working to help, then there is a good chance that at some point in the future, people will come to understand our position and hopefully accept it.
Taking time to debrief experiences is one way that Sylvia touched on that can help to clear the air and address issues or misunderstandings. Debriefing is an important tool, especially when people have gone through stressful or traumatic experiences. Those are all really good points.
[00:40:48] Chris Kaipio: Jordy. Now let’s turn it over to you, the listener.
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