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High Altitude Leadership

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High Altitude Leadership: What the World's Most Forbidding Peaks Teach Us About Success (Hardcover)

Leadership is often a risky, lonely role possessing nearly unbearable lows and fleeting highs. Despite this emotionally and intellectually draining roller coaster, a handful of leaders deliver stunning results, with great consistency. They push past current leadership trends in order to achieve the most extremely challenging goals. They don't fall prey to the platitudes or clichés we see so often see in leadership theory. Instead, they succeed by recognizing and surviving the dangers that challenge them as they take themselves and their teams to higher levels. These rare individuals are those that Chris Warner and Don Schmincke call High Altitude Leaders.

In "High Altitude Leadership" they show how to become that kind of leader. The authors present a new approach to leadership development, based on ground-breaking scientific research, field-tested under the most brutal conditions on the most difficult summits, and successfully applied in the training of executives, management teams, and entrepreneurs throughout the world.

Table of Contents:

Preface. Acknowledgments. Introduction. 1. Danger #1: Fear. 2. Danger #2: Selfishness. 3. Danger #3: Tool Seduction. 4. Danger #4: Arrogance. 5. Danger #5: Lone Heroism. 6. Danger #6: Cowardice. 7. Danger #7: Comfort. 8. Danger #8: Gravity. 9. The Journey Begins. Resources. Notes.


"Fear, selfishness and arrogance - these are just some of the dangers that can threaten a climber's life, and in the high-threat world of global commerce and global security, they can destroy a country's or organization's future. Peak performance is about digging deeper to overcome the barriers of our own making. As Chris and Don assert, we have to dig deeper in order to climb higher." -- Ralph Heath, Executive Vice President, Aeronautics, Lockheed Martin Corporation

"At last, something new has been written about leadership. The authors skillfully bridge the crosswalk between what is required of leaders in life and death situations scaling the world's highest peaks and the more mundane, but sometimes no less scary, halls of corporate America" -- Cathy A. Trower, Ph.D. Research Director, Co-Principal Investigator Collaborative On Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) Harvard University, Graduate School of Education.

"Chris Warner is living proof that courage and intellect provide a powerful leadership combination. He and Don Schmincke serve as outstanding guides for exploring what it takes to lead an organization into difficult and uncharted terrain. If you're an executive who searches for the occasional inspirational gut-check, this book is a must for your shelf." -- David Callahan, executive editor, SmartCEO Magazine

"The authors present a new approach to leadership development, based on ground-breaking scientific research" --

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About the Authors:

  • Chris Warner is a climber, educator, entrepreneur and an Emmy-nominated filmmaker.
  • He has led more than 150 international mountaineering expeditions (from K2 to Kilimanjaro).
  • Chris has been teaching leadership and group development for more than twenty-five years.
  • In 1990 Chris founded Earth Treks & chain of climbing centres serve over 100,000 customers a year.
  • Don Schmincke is a dynamic keynote speaker & mad-scientist turned provocative management sage.
  • In 1990 Don founded The SAGA Leadership Institute.
  • From CNN to the Wall Street Journal, his use of anthropology and evolutionary genetics to remedy the high failure rates of management theories established him as a consultant renegade and leading global authority.
  • Each year over one thousand CEO’s find his work refreshingly irreverent and revolutionary for bottom-line impact.


From Publishers Weekly:

“Warner is a mountaineer and entrepreneur (founder of mountaineering outfitter Earth Treks); Schmincke is an author (The Code of the Executive) and leadership consultant, though he's an MIT-trained scientist and engineer at heart. Having met on a charity climb in the Andes, they discovered similar opinions on human nature and management techniques, from which they developed the concept of ‘high altitude leadership.’

Warner and Schminke identify eight psychological mindsets that paralyse organizations and individuals, undermining productivity: Fear, Selfishness, Tool Seduction, Arrogance, Lone Heroism, Cowardice, Comfort and Gravity. Each is discussed in its own chapter, beginning with an often tragic example from Warner's mountaineering life that shows pointedly how similar behaviour can lead to workplace catastrophe. Schmincke prides himself on being a ‘mad scientist’ rather than a management guru, focused on practical observation and common-sense application; he employs a deliciously sarcastic tone when discussing typical, ineffective managerial "magic cures" like Mission Statements and Codes of Values.

The final chapter is devoted to caring, highlighting the importance of courage, moral code, efficacy, social responsibility, honour, patriotism, virtue, valour and sense of group identity. As much a life guide as a business primer, this book sports a helpful, engaging and positive plan for working together effectively and honestly.”


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