By Rochelle D'Almeida, Project Manager
Travelling is traditionally considered a welcome break from a stress-laden work life and why not. We all deserve some time off, parking ourselves either by the beach or close to the mountains, doing nothing except gazing at the scenery around us. But, hang on! How about travelling because it can give you a change in perspective, not just personally, but professionally too? Surprised? Don't be.
It's not just your personality that takes you places, but your life experiences too.
Being well-travelled can actually give you a competitive edge at the workplace and make you a better leader in comparison to your colleagues who've probably not even bothered exploring their backyard! It's not just your personality that takes you places, but your life experiences too. Here are some ways in which travel hones your leadership skills.
1. It builds people skills
When you travel, you have to embrace the unfamiliar. You get busy not just spending time on Instagram, but also making an effort to acquaint yourself with cultural and social norms that may be totally new to you. You may not even know the local language, but you will still have to connect with the locals in some way. You accept differences between you and the people around you and probably bond over a cup of piping hot tea totally unconsciously. Certain lessons learnt find applicability at the workplace too for you interact with so many diverse people during the day.
2. It makes you practice time management
Anyone who has travelled can tell you that managing time is crucial for making the most of the holiday. Right from booking tickets and B&Bs well in time, to planning an itinerary, all of it needs strategic planning and prioritizing, evaluation, and if required even rescheduling. Acing these skills helps you learn how to differentiate between urgent and important, and to scheme out your to-do list appropriately and enjoy after office hours.
3. You learn how to adapt
When you travel you are thrown out of your cosy comfort zone and the best you can do is to complain less and adapt. Learn to redefine comfort and face your fears. Imagine you're camping in a forest and the only way to cook food is using firewood, when back at home you could microwave Maggi in five minutes. Hurts to even think about it, right? But you still do what the situation demands of you. Business too is all about change so it's important you are open to trying new things even if you fail the first time.
4. You test your decision-making powers
A good decision-maker weighs the pros and cons, and with careful planning implements decisions. When you're travelling you're constantly making and taking decisions right from where and how you're going to get to your destination(s), to what and where you'll eat and sleep, to working out your finances. You also prepare a plan B for "just in case" situations. Travelling teaches you to plan ahead and make sound decisions.
5. You become a better team player
Whether or not you're a team player by nature, travel can unquestionably make you one! It teaches you the importance of how everyone matters in a team. Take for instance this situation: You have a flat tyre, your vehicle's engine broke down and to top it all, it begins to rain bang in the middle of a forest you were driving through. Can you work a solution alone? Most probably, no. Those who travel with you take up responsibilities to get out of a less than ideal situation. When you work in a team, you eventually start valuing everyone's contribution even if it is the pantry boy who asks you if you need coffee just when you're craving it. Travel teaches you empathy and the importance of being compassionate and collaborative.
6. You have to innovate
The more you travel, the more you think outside the box. When you meet new people and see new places your mind becomes willing to explore and be inspired. You end up fuelling your creativity and get more innovative and inventive. You stop thinking in old patterns and constantly try out permutations and combinations to work out a business idea or how to handle your team or approach a problem.
You see there's so much travel does. Why do you then either not travel or think of travel as an antithesis of serious work? The two are a good blend. Pack your bags, see the world and come back a better leader!