When we launched the LeaderSurf program in 2016, we believed that teaching executives how to surf would enhance their leadership skills. Learning any new physical skill requires a willingness to push outside one's comfort zone. Surfing offers a very powerful metaphor for learning more self-awareness. While we can provide our own thoughts on the subject, nothing is more compelling than hearing it from our participants.
After each LeaderSurf program we ask our participants to comment on the link between surfing and leadership. The question we posed was:
Did you find the surfing to serve as a good tie into enhancing your leadership capabilities?
Suhana Gordhan- Creative Director, FCB Global South Africa
"Absolutely! Hey, we even got a motto out of it - Paddle, Paddle, Paddle. I think there is great benefit from including the surfing into this context of leadership. The ocean is a perfect example of a force that cannot be controlled - much like a lot of things in business. How you navigate the ocean and the surfing is also a great metaphor on how to manage tough business scenarios. Apart from a great physical break from the mental learning, again, it was a chance to challenge yourself to learn something new. Furthermore, it offered the perspective that you can update your views about yourself. I never thought I would be able to do it - but there I was at this late stage in my adult life, learning what I could have learnt in my teens. I think it's a fantastic tie-in with the leadership experience which requires similar skills - listening, bravery, constant checking in on progress, respect and self forgiveness as well as the ability to have fun along the journey!"
Denise Coursey- President Asset Management. The Motley Fool
"I think one of the main benefits of surfing for me was both a confidence boost and an equalizer. It helped the group gel. For the most party, everyone was starting from the same place (almost zero experience). So it really helped bring us together, give us a shared experience."
Lisa Bright- SVP Group Creative Director, FCB Global- Chicago
"100% - I would say I actually wish this was reflected on more and tied closer into the rest of the program. I know you like to keep it it's own thing to keep it fun but it really is such a metaphor for learning about yourself as a whole and I would've really liked to process that a bit more right after the lessons or at least during the working sessions."
Jack Horowitz- General Manager, Essex Parts
"I feel several of the surfing skillset tie into leadership attributes. The experience needed to learn to identify "surfable" waves, good observation skills required. The timing required to catch the waves; Execution requires a focus on your skillset to make it happen. Enjoying the wave while you can, then minimizing the damage when (not if) your ride ends."
Stepping on a surfboard is a great way to push anyone out of their comfort zone and into their learning zone.
The LeaderSurf program combines executive coaching, leadership assessments, business challenges, leadership learning sessions, humanitarian aid and the daily surfing lessons in a formula that engages leaders in an emmersive experience unlike any other leadership development experience.