How Winning Works by Robyn Benincasa Harlequin Adventure racer Robyn Benincasa is fond of saying 'jump off that cliff and grow your wings on the way down'. According to the blurb for her new field guide to success, which is subtitled 8 Essential Leadership Lessons From the Toughest Teams on Earth, Benincasa has made an art form of extreme performance. The blurb might have a point. In her 15-year professional racing career, Benincasa has biked through a Borneo jungle, climbed Himalayan giants, hiked Fijian lava fields and rafted rapids in Chile, winning world championships on her merry way. In her spare time, the superwoman from 'pioneer stock' works as a firefighter and keynote speaker on teamwork and leadership. Oh, and she runs her own scholarships foundation, Project Athena. Quite a resume. How Winning Works distils insight gained from racing into eight elements of teamwork. The elements include total commitment, adversity management, mutual respect, 'we thinking' and ego relinquishment. The core of Benincasa's belief is the power of teamwork - or 'synergy' as she calls it, dropping a buzzword. Benincasa also talks awkwardly about 'positive aluminium cans' flying out of your mouth, meaning indelible, inspirational words, or something. Mostly, Benincasa, who has given leadership seminars to the likes of Starbucks, Nestle and Boeing, talks sense. For instance, she says that the best leaders are not gung-ho 'Ranger Boys'. The best leaders direct from behind, marshalling people like sheep and ensuring that they have the tools to succeed, she writes. Adventurers such as Benincasa need canny leadership because of the huge hurdles they face. 'The internal battle to take just one more step raged on for what seemed like an eternity,' she writes, describing her 1998 Raid Gauloises race attempt on volcanic Andes giant, Cotopaxi. 'Morning became afternoon, and there was still more uphill climbing. The white in my peripheral vision was infinite and relentless. My face was burning from dehydration and the searing glare of the sun off the snow. It was heaven to be on the best team in the world, at the front of the toughest race on Earth, and it was hellish suffering beyond reason,' she writes. Her descriptions of events she witnessed during Eco-Challenge contests devised by reality-TV producer Mark Burnett, pre-Survivor, are equally harrowing. In one Eco-Challenge, the 2002 Fiji contest, teammate Mike Trisler became swamped in his own five-inch-deep diarrhoea contained by his kayak, she recounts. In another Eco-Challenge, the 2000 Borneo contest, another teammate, Isaac Wilson, disturbed a wasp's nest with dire consequences. 'Once the venom kicked in, Isaac began this blood-curdling screaming that I will never forget,' Benincasa writes. She comes across as a supremely resilient high-achiever and kind, with harsh words for nobody, which makes her guide all the more engaging. The rub is the subplot: repeat crippling hip injuries requiring resurfacing operations. The self-inflicted agony raises questions about the depth of her wisdom. How much can you trust the judgment of someone who has harmed her body so severely? Benincasa - an advocate of '360-degree' feedback - would have the answer.