Outward Bound Costa Rica uses a situational leadership model based roughly on the “Leadership Wheel” written by Clinton Sidle, director of the prestigious Park Leadership Fellow Program at Cornell University. This framework provides a way to envision five leadership styles and guides our staff and students in developing their own leadership style adapting it to the specific situation, group or individual needs. This also guides us in structuring our programs to ensure that there is ample time for reflection and connecting the physical adventures with character development. For some teen programs we also use “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” to help guide our students.

The mandala or wheel helps our staff and students in adapting their leadership style to the situation at hand. It also helps organize our course and daily structure so that we dedicate enough time and energy to each area of a healthy persona: Mind, Body, Spirit and Emotion. One way to envision this is to simply say that we use program activities as metaphors for life-skill and leadership development.

Our professional field staff and instructors adjust their leadership style to assure a well-balanced program by using four main leadership roles based on the four cardinal directions of the compass: the Teacher, Warrior, Nurturer, and Visionary.


Teacher leader guides participants as they: Learn Through Experience

  • Facilitating engaging, relevant, sequential experiences that promote skill mastery and incorporate reflection and transference
  • Learning from success as well as failure


Warrior leader impels participants into: Challenge and Adventure

  • Using unfamiliar settings to impell students into mentally, emotionally and physically demanding experiences
  • Utilizing and managing appropriate risk


Nurturing leader creates and maintains a: Supportive Environment for Learning

  • Designing an experience that supports physical and emotional safety
  • Developing a caring and positive group culture


Visionary leaders help participants in connecting the activity with: Character Development

These tenets describe the qualities our staff strive to model, as well as develop and nurture in our students:

  • Self-knowledge
  • Craftsmanship
  • Tenacity
  • Physical fitness
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Self-Reliance
  • Acceptance of Responsibility
  • Ability to transcend self-imposed limits