Sir Chris Bonington

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Sir Chris Bonington

Chris Bonington is more than Britain’s best known mountaineer. He is a writer, a lecturer and now one of the country’s leading motivational speakers

Chris Bonington is one of the most successful expedition leaders in the history of mountaineering and has established a reputation as an outstanding motivational speaker.

He uses the superbly illustrated story of his two major expeditions to Everest as a case study that is linked and tailored to the needs of the client. He has spoken to companies and organisations around the world and is a visiting lecturer at Cranfield School of Management.

He was honoured with the Founder’s Medal of The Royal Geographical Society in 1974, the CBE in 1976 and a Knighthood in 1996. He has held many honorary appointments and currently is President of the British Orienteering Federation and LEPRA (The British Leprosy Charity), Honorary President of Mountain Wilderness, a Trustee of Outward Bound, Chairman of its Risk Management Committee, Chancellor of Lancaster University, Chancellor Designate 2005 onwards and Deputy Lieutenant of Cumbria 2004 onwards. He is also Chairman of Berghaus, Britain’s leading Outdoor manufacturer.

The Talks:

Leading the way with audio-visual presentations Chris has now gone digital. This enables him to use his stunning visuals, computer animation and video in combination with one another.

While Chris talks you through his expeditions, making the links between what he does so successfully on the mountain with business today, you will be inspired, thrilled and more than ready to climb your own Everest.


A programme illustrating Bonington’s management style

Motivation . Visionary Leadership Empowerment Synergy in Teamwork Planning and Organisation Determination and Perseverance
Reaching the highest point on earth requires teamwork of the highest level. Chris Bonington describes his own personal motivation leading to the success in at last reaching the summit of Everest in 1985 at the age of 50, as a member of the Norwegian Everest Expedition. The expedition placed eighteen climbers and Sherpas on the summit in three separate ascents, a record for a single expedition. This was possible because of superb planning and organisation, but most of all, because of the quality of teamwork amongst expedition members.

The leader was Arne Naess, a millionaire ship owner, and Bonington acted as his chief of staff looking after the logistics and advising on strategy. He studies Næss’s approach to leadership and explores the dynamics of decision making within the team.

Bonington was stretched to the limit in his own bid for the summit and describes how he was helped by the men around him. He also shares his thoughts as he approached the summit. He takes the audience step by step up Everest in such a vivid way that they share in the exhilaration of the climb. Yet he constantly draws parallels between the effort on the mountain and their realities in the business and management world.


Crisis management

Dealing with obstacles Creating positive reactions to change
The successful climber does not fight his environment. He or she must become attuned to it; interpreting the signs and taking appropriate action. He needs to adapt his strategies to the changing realities of the elements, the terrain and the capabilities of the other team members.

Indeed climbing provides a strong metaphor for the many, at times traumatic changes that today are taking place throughout the work place. Chris Bonington tells a series of dramatic stories to underline the lessons to be learnt and to help build a strategy for life – not just to survive – but to succeed and prosper.

He uses many powerful images including the story of his epic descent of the Ogre with Doug Scott, who broke both legs just below the summit. They were engulfed by storm and went without food for five days. Bonington also fell, broke his ribs and caught pneumonia, but through using all their skills and working positively they not only survived the experience but gained from it.


The Concept
The participants will join Chris on his ascent of the South West Face of Everest in 1975. It was the largest and most complex expedition ever to leave Britain, tackling what is arguably the most daunting challenge in the history of climbing – Everest the Hard Way. Five strong expeditions had already tried and failed.
He first takes them through the planning process and then on to the climb itself, setting the scene, giving all the relevant information but then asking the participants for their solutions to the problems involved. The questions examined are ones of leadership and dealing with people rather than climbing tactics.
This approach enables the entire group to participate in the climb, exploring different ways to deal with issues as they occur in the course of the expedition. Its strength is its participatory nature and it has worked very effectively in two seminars he has managed for BP. In the course of the discussion he brings the participants back to their own work day challenges and encourage them to compare these with the issues that we explore on the mountain.

He starts by giving the background to the story of the South West Face and my own first attempt in the Autumn of 1972.
He then goes into the planning phase of the 1975 Expedition, exploring with the group:

The Vision/Objective
Logistic Planning
Team Selection
We then start the climb and as the story unfolds he involves the group in helping him solve some of the challenges or dilemmas with which he is confronted on the way.
These include:

Motivating the Sherpa work force.
Dealing with conflicts of interest caused by individual ambition amongst team members.
Selecting the summit teams
Motivating the rest
Coping with crisis and tragedy when Mick Burke goes missing high on Everest
Analysing mistakes as well as successes.
Because the presentation is interactive, the participants not only absorb more of the lessons, but having helped to form them, take on greater ownership of the leadership and team building principles brought out by the climb.

Technical Details

The presentation is run off a computer, allowing him to use a combination of pictures, animated graphics and video to bring the story to life.

TAGS: Motivational Speakers / Iconic Adventurer / After Dinner Speakers

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