On May 10, 1869, near Promontory, Utah, the final spike was driven into a railroad tie, and that action signified the linkage of the United States of America by rail and telegraph line “from sea to shining sea.” The Transcontinental Railroad was the interstate highway system of its day, and two railroad companies—the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific—spent almost six years building a railroad line across some of the most difficult terrain imaginable. Looking at the construction project from both the Union Pacific and Central Pacific perspectives, we will examine how planning, organization, communication, teamwork, initiative, and—most importantly, leadership—are as critical to execution now as they were in 1869.
As we explore the Golden Spike National Historical Park near Brigham City, Utah, you’ll gain keen awareness of the importance of building grit within organizations, creating a culture that empowers small groups to succeed, enhancing the performance of cross-functional teams, and teaching leaders to avoid scandals and manage crisis. We will also navigate the process of scenario planning as a strategic tool for considering options beyond the idea that the future will look much like today. The principles and concepts presented through the Transcontinental Leadership Experience can be tailored to meet the needs of senior executives or rising leaders within any organization.