Rachael Robertson, a leader in extreme conditions, shares insights from leading a team in Antarctica for 12 months. She emphasizes the importance of respect over harmony and honesty in leadership, highlighting experiences like the “Bacon Wars.” Practical tips include maintaining composure in crises and fostering open communication. Tune in for valuable leadership lessons applicable beyond extreme environments.

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My guest, Rachael Robertson, brought a team of 18 people through a 12-month research expedition in Antarctica. She was chosen to lead the project after a boot camp interview process measured her ability to lead with empathy. I’m excited to talk to her about leadership in extreme conditions.
We discuss what we can learn from her experience as we progressively open up post-pandemic, and how we can all better our leadership practices in the face of a new world.
From the challenges of confinement in months of full darkness and full daylight, we talk about the importance of routine in keeping people’s mental health optimal, the necessity for facts over emotions, and how to build a team from strangers with diverse backgrounds in one of the toughest environments on the planet. Tune in for an in-depth discussion on what leadership means in extreme conditions. Some of Rachael’s tips for leadership in a touch environment include: 

Tips For Leading in Tough Environments
Leading through a crisis — Rachael’s team’s plane crashed during her time in Antarctica — Be poised and calm, keep your head up and your shoulders down, and be careful with your choice of words (concern and worry are not the same).
Respect trumps harmony — Rachael explains how the “Bacon Wars” boiled down to respect. She also touches on the importance of challenging the idea, not the person, and only with facts.
No triangles — when you’re under stress and pressure, the last thing you need is someone complaining about you behind your back. Absolute words are a no-no (everyone, no one always).
Honesty resonates with people — It is powerful for a leader to admit that they don’t know something with certainty. Be open to admitting when you don’t know something and be quick with the information when you have it; it will build trust.

About Karen Tiber Leland, Brand Strategist 

Karen Tiber Leland is the founder of Sterling Marketing Group, a New York City branding, marketing, and color strategy and implementation firm helping CEOs, executives, and entrepreneurs develop stronger personal, business, and team brands. Her clients include Cisco, American Express, Marriott Hotels, Apple Computer, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

She is also the best-selling author of nine traditionally-published business books that have sold over 400,000 copies and been translated into 10 languages. Her most recent book is The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand. She regularly writes for and and has had articles published in Self, The Los Angeles Times, American Way, The Boston Globe, and many others.

Karen has spoken for Harvard, The AMA, Direct Marketing Association, and Stanford, among others. She has been interviewed on The Today Show, CNN, CNBC, and Oprah.

Get in touch with Karen on Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook

Resources for Brand Strategy, Personal Branding, CEO Branding and Marketing Strategy 

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Tweetables and Quotes to Share

It’s really all about seeing what’s working, what’s not, and making fine-tuned adjustments as we go. PODCAST: @KarenFLeland 

When something isn’t working, don’t try to fix everything at once, try changing just one element at a time. PODCAST: @KarenFLeland 

You’re not building the whole wall at once, you’re making a brick. PODCAST: @KarenFLeland 

If we move away from the dialogue of “It’s bad,” “it’s wrong,” “We should have done it a different way,” we actually move much faster. PODCAST: @KarenFLeland 

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