About Mike Caldwell
Whenever I read something on the internet or in a book or magazine I always ask myself "why should I listen to this person" or "what makes this guy think he's such an expert". And when you visit this website you should be asking yourself the exact same thing.
Why does Mike Caldwell think he has what it takes to write page after page about team building and leadership?
In my article on "Are Leaders Born or Bred" I discuss the whole debate on whether leaders are born or made. If you haven't read this article yet (or if I've yet to post it!), here is the overall summary.
I believe this is not an either/or question. It's both a matter of degree and development. I believe there are people with natural leadership traits who are born with the capacity to lead. But if these gifts aren't nutured their potential will never be maximized. I also believe that even if a person is not born with natural leadership characteristics, they can be developed with time, practice and experience. I was not only fortunate enough to be born with some natural leadership skills but also fortunate to place myself in careers and settings that would nurture and allow these skills to flourish and grow.
I have always been a big picture person. Back in my paramedic days, the majority of my fellow medics were hands-on sort of people; they wanted to drive with the lights flashing and the siren sounding, they wanted to be the one to "start the line", "get the tube", "push the med", or "shock the chest". My favourite calls though were the multi-casualty incidents where carnage and chaos reigned. I loved being first on the scene and establishing Incident Command. I loved the opportunity to control an uncontrollable environment. I would much rather direct the action of others than take action myself. My ability to conduct multi layers of an operation simultaneously outweighed my physical abilities to attend to a single patient.
And regardless of whether I was first on scene or not, I would ultimately end up in the role of Incident Commander. I credit this to my ability to stay calm under pressure and to empower those around me to do the duties I knew they were capable of accomplishing. I also had a reputation as being a knowledgeable and competent medic with the ability to make tough decisions rapidly under pressure.
However, the most graphic example of my ability to lead came during an 8 hour Adventure Race (AR) near Kingston, Ontario. In this race I was racing with a 47 year old gentleman who had served as my adventure race team's support crew for the previous 2 summers. Although lacking in optimum physical fitness, my friend passionately wanted to try an AR so I agreed to team up with him for this event. During one arduous trekking section, Terry was having trouble keeping his heart rate under control. So we came up with a few unique rules for our team:
1) Terry's heart rate had to stay slower than 185bpm (if it exceeded that we stopped and rested for 5 minutes)
2) We would walk around hills instead of up and over them (not an easy task in the wilds of the Frontenac Forest)
3) I wouldn't get my shoes wet! (this was just a fun little addition I wanted to see if I could accomplish)
At one point we had trekked a couple of kilometers through the bush to reach a check point. On the return trip I looked back to see how my team was doing and much to my surprise instead of seeing a line of 3 people trailing me, there were 15!
"What are you guys all doing?", I called back.
"Are you Mike Caldwell?", one of the racers responded.
"Yes I am" was my response.
"We're just going to follow you then." the individual replied.
I told them they were all welcome to do so, but reminded them this was a RACE and we had the above three rules to follow. After a brief huddle the mass agreed that those restrictions were fine by them!
Apparently they had all become hopelessly lost reaching the previous check point and didn't want to take any chances on their return trip. My reputation had obviously preceded me and this group was more comfortable following me then they were trusting their own navigation skills.
My professional and recreational past have always led me to serve in a leadership role. Professionally I have worked as a land, helicopter and emergency department paramedic, firefighter and medical officer, Canadian Arctic and Rocky Mountain raft and wildnerness guide, snowshoe race director and social work services coordinator. For fun I have raced 36-hour adventure races as the team navigator and captain and have volunteered to assist with community development in Guyana, South America. There are countless stories in each of these settings that have served to enhance and develop my leadership experience.
Despite the benefits of experience however, many of lessons encountered during these experiences are lost without further reflection and contemplation. Fortunately my formal academic education has addressed this potential void as I hold a Master of Science in Management Degree from Regis University in Denver, Colorado.
Although cited as a "management" degree, this education truly centered more around leadership. Here are the titles of a few of my core courses: Leadership - A Personal Context, Leadership/Management Challenge, Organizational Leadership and Ethics, Leading Effective Teams, Leading Projects in Contempory Organizations, Leading in Changing Economies, Leadership for the Future, Leading in the International Organization, and Contempory Leadership Research. AND the degree concluded with an action research project entitled "Professional Leadership Project"!
Thus I certainly have a good theoretical education in the history and application of leadership in business. I would highly recommend the program at Regis University.
If you are interested in learning more about the Master of Science in Management Degree, click here.
Thus, I'm fortunate in that I've been able to serve in a multitude of leadership roles and then been granted the education and tools to examine why I have been so successful in so many diverse settings. This reflection has enabled me to define the parameters and building blocks of both leadership and team building and management.
This has ultimately led to the formation of this website. I think my experience and education has made me somewhat of an expert in this field, but in this manner it's not important what I think is it? This has to be your call. Hopefully my credentials meet your expectations, but if not visit it back again next year and maybe I'll meet them then!
Do you want to read even more crazy stories about me?
Click on this link
and read about some of the successes I've had pursuing goals.
Contact Mike Caldwell
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