5 leadership tips from the Andes survivors

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This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Much has been said about the different forms of leadership, as well as the possibility of developing them to exploit the personal potential and that of the people in your team. But according to Steve Farber, author of the book ” Greater Than Yourself “, there is a type of “extreme leadership” that occurs in extreme situations and that leads individuals to give more than they think possible. Something similar to what the survivors of the Andes Accident did in 1972 .


A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend a conference by Carlitos Páez, a survivor of the accident. I remembered this talk because October 13 marks 43 years since Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 was lost in one of the most inhospitable mountain ranges in the world. Páez recounted how a plane with 40 passengers related to a rugby team and five crew members crashed in the Andes mountain range between Chile and Argentina. The survivors remained alive for 72 days after the rescue mission was canceled. It was thanks to the fact that two of its members, Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa, crossed the mountain range that they were ultimately rescued.

Maze, a coaching company for work teams, asserts that an extreme situation is one in which critical decision-making could mean the difference between life and death. For his part, Farber explains that extreme leadership allows people to develop leadership characteristics that are difficult to forge in a normal situation.

Many of us have seen the movie ” They Live .” We are fascinated by stories of survival in extreme conditions, such as that of the 33 Chilean miners trapped in the collapse of the San José mine in 2012, the odyssey of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his 27 men over two years at the South Pole, and for Of course, the journey of young people trapped in the cold of the Andean mountains.

I would like to share with you some of the leadership lessons that I obtained from Carlitos Páez’s experience and that may be useful to you when forging your first work team.

1. Put your people first: you must remember that as a boss, you must be the first to serve.

From the Andes : During the odyssey, the captain of the rugby team, Marcelo Pérez, took responsibility for the survivors and began to organize the rationing of food and the tasks necessary to stay alive. It should be noted that at that time he was no more than 25 years old.

2. Be flexible with tactics : Your team may have a goal that you can’t take off from, but remember that there isn’t just one way to achieve it.

From the Andes : Although the motive for survival was paramount, young people had to make decisions that they knew would be difficult for the outside world to interpret, such as desperately choosing to eat human flesh to survive.

“Ours is a story where we challenge the ‘No’. We had the negative when the plane crashed; when they canceled the search we began to consider how to rescue ourselves and then when the avalanche gave us the last blow, we refused to die ”, assured Páez in his conference.

3. Choose your people carefully: it is essential to choose the right people for the right jobs.

From the Andes : the members of the rugby team were college boys studying different careers; This allowed each one to help as best they could after the tragedy. They were divided into two teams: the Explorers, who were looking for exit routes, and the Workers, who were the ones in charge of daily survival.

“There were three first-semester medical students and they assume their role as doctors and they do it in such a way that they begin to convince themselves that they are real doctors. Roy Harley was in the first year of engineering and he was the one who set up the antenna to listen to the radio ”, indicated the speaker.

4. Stay optimistic in the face of adversity: it is essential to keep your team spirit alive in moments of crisis to avoid defeat.

From the Andes : “Before the 10th we were waiting, but when they announced that they would cancel the search, my friend Gustavo Nicolich told me: ‘I have good news for you, they are no longer looking for us. That means that now we depend on ourselves and not on outsiders to live. ‘

5. Lead by example: it’s about knowing that what you ask of your team is the same as what you will have to deliver, regardless of your rank.

From the Andes : the history of the Uruguayans is considered a miracle due to the sacrifices that young people had to make alike, regardless of their history or social status.

“The great word in our history is ‘Attitude’; When we stop surviving and waiting for rescue, we begin to live. When a decision is made, no matter how difficult it may be, an opportunity opens up, ”said Páez.

Do you know any other extreme leadership stories? We invite you to share it in the comments!


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