Equipment Type

Lessons from a Leader

Gary Guller’s humility is the true lesson in leadership.
March 10, 2014

Rod Sutton is editorial director of Construction Equipment magazine. He is in charge of editorial strategy and writes a monthly column for the magazine, The Sutton Report. He has more than 30 years in construction journalism, and has been with Construction Equipment since 2001.

Wednesday afternoon during Conexpo, a couple dozen people snaked between banquet tables waiting patiently to meet Gary Guller, who had delivered the address for the Conexpo 2014 Young Leaders luncheon. Five of our Under 40 winners attended the event, which we sponsored.

Although many were there for an autographed poster, nearly all were there to greet a special man, a mountain climber who overcame the loss of an arm to become the first one-armed climber to scale Mt. Everest. Prior to embarking on his six-week climb, he had guided the largest group of cross-disabled people to Mount Everest base camp at 17,500 feet.

As those in the room watched a video of the base camp climb, in which a sherpa carries a man on his back over a section of trail a wheelchair cannot maneuver, we sat in wonder of the accomplisment. As we heard Guller tell of the realization that a ledge against which he steadied himself going up would be on the other side of his body coming down, we sat in wonder of the man.

Of course, the lesson was leadership. The men and women who made the journey with Guller were in wheelchairs and on prosthetics. They climbed where most of us would never venture with four good limbs. They were led by a man who fell off a mountain and lost his arm at 20, then climbed to the top of world at 36.

Guller’s humility was the true lesson in leadership. Although full of energy, Guller's message that day was humble leadership; his goal, make others greater. He couldn’t have reached the summit without someone steadying ice ladders for him, without guides leading the way, without someone on the other side of a crevice shouting encouragement.

He could not have brought his group to base camp without gentle persuasion and the labor of others. The simple struggle of acclimation to the altitude took days. Imagine the feeling of flying into Denver and running a marathon, then multiply it by Everest heights and Everest exposure.

As the line dwindled and young leaders carried their posters out of the room, each returned to the show with a better sense of what it takes to participate and lead. Construction Equipment applauds these young men and women, who will be our leaders in a decade or two. We want to continue to recognize them, too. If you know one, please visit ConstructionEquipment.com/Under 40 to complete a nomination.

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