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Sir David Hempleman-Adams | Extreme Leadership Series

David Hempleman-Adams

Navigating the Extremes: Leadership and Team Building with Sir David Hempleman-Adams


In a compelling episode of the Extreme Leadership Podcast, host Scott Kress engages with Sir. David Hempleman-Adams, a renowned modern-day explorer. They delve into leadership and team building lessons derived from challenging mountain and polar expeditions. Sir David shares insights from his vast experience, including completing the Explorers Grand Slam.

Highlights and Timestamps

[00:04] Introduction to Sir David Hempleman-Adams: Scott Kress introduces Sir David, touching on his impressive background as an explorer and their shared experiences.

[02:03] Early Adventures and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award: David recounts how his adventures began, inspired by the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and his passion for mountains.

[05:52] The Explorers Grand Slam Achievement: Discussion about David being the first person to complete the Explorers Grand Slam, detailing the challenges and peaks involved.

[11:05] Balancing Expeditions with Business: How David manages his expeditions alongside running his business, Cold Climates, and his philosophy on not profiting from adventure.

[13:50] Leadership in Extreme Environments: Insights into effective leadership qualities and the importance of setting clear expectations and building strong team relationships.

[17:42] Crafting High-Performance Teams: Strategies David uses to assemble and prepare teams for expeditions, including the “pint of beer test.”

[22:12] Characteristics of Successful Teams: Reflecting on the essence of high-performance teams and the significance of enduring friendships formed through shared challenges.

[26:56] Managing Change and Uncertainty: David shares his approach to adapting to unexpected changes and ensuring team alignment and decision-making.

[29:15] Building Team Resilience: Emphasizing the importance of mental preparation and setting realistic expectations for handling physical and emotional challenges.

[32:37] A Unique Balloon Expedition to the North Pole: Sir David narrates the story of a pioneering balloon trip to the North Pole, highlighting the spirit of adventure and determination.

RELATED: Robert Swan, Explorer on passion and the keys to high performance teams.


This episode offers profound lessons on leadership, teamwork, and the essence of human resilience drawn from the life of Sir David Hempleman-Adams. His experiences from the world’s most extreme environments provide invaluable insights for leaders and teams in any field, emphasizing the power of vision, preparation, and mutual support.

Interested in Creating Your Own Extreme Leadership Team?

Scott offers a series of Keynote presentations and workshops on team building. Here’s a quick video of Scott in action! Contact us to explore this further.

About The Extreme Leadership Series

The Extreme Leadership Series is a dynamic exploration of leadership through the lens of extraordinary situations. Hosted by Scott Kress, it features a mix of engaging podcasts and insightful written interviews with leaders who have thrived in some of the world’s most demanding environments. From the icy wilderness of polar regions to the towering summits of the highest mountains, guests share their stories of resilience, teamwork, and courage.

This series goes beyond mere adventure tales; it delves into the core principles of effective leadership such as preparation, adaptability, and the ability to cultivate high-performance teams. It offers valuable lessons for leaders in any field, aiming to educate, inspire, and equip listeners and readers with the tools to lead under pressure.

Whether you’re an emerging leader seeking motivation, an experienced executive aiming to enhance your skills, or simply intrigued by the intersection of leadership and extreme challenges, the Extreme Leadership Series provides a unique perspective on navigating adversity and achieving success. Join Scott Kress on this journey to uncover what it takes to lead in the most unforgiving circumstances, where every decision can make a difference.

Scott Kress

Scott Kress is an accomplished climber and adventurer. He’s completed the 7 summits and skied to both the North and South Pole. His storytelling based on his adventures is captivating, but what sets Scott apart is his ability to weave his stories together with his 20+ years of leadership and team development education and experience. Scott is the president of Summit Team Building, and is passionate about helping teams grow and companies flourish.

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