Posted by Robert Half on 16 July 2015
Dragon boat racing and business – steering your team to success
It is not only a passion for paddling that creates champions during the Dragon Boat Festival. Success in dragon boat racing, similar to any business, is driven by 5 key characteristics that define, shape and drive a team to greatness.
1. Seamless Coordination
With 20 paddlers to a boat, it is not the fittest or strongest team that excels on the water. It is the team that is best drilled, working not as twenty individuals, but as a single unit propelling the boat forward. If even just one member of the team is out of sync, the entire team’s timing can fall by the wayside as they struggle to pick up the slack.
In a similar fashion, it is vital when undertaking a project that you ensure all of your team members clearly understand the goals, tasks and timeline involved from the on-set. By making team members more accountable, you will be able to spot issues early on, confronting them before they impact team performance detrimentally.
2. Sense of Responsibility & Camaraderie
With every stroke, the dragon boat racing crew has to lift the boat to the waters’ surface and propel it forward. As such, each member has to be able to pull their own weight, quite literally in this case, so as not to burden the rest of the team. If anyone is struggling, the burden of responsibility will then fall on stronger team members to drive the boat forwards.
In the workplace, each member of your team should be able and willing to manage their own workloads. However, at times of need you will also want some of your stronger members to take on additional tasks and help push the team through the difficult times.
3. Perfect Tempo
Even with the luxury of the greatest paddlers, a dragon boat crew is only as good as its drummer. The drummer is tasked with setting the beat by which the paddlers navigate every dip and stroke, reaching and pulling in perfect synchrony. More than simply giving the dragon its heartbeat, the drummer encourages the team to achieve perfection.
The tactical role of a drummer is akin to that of a good manager. A good manager must set the right strategy, ensure everyone is motivated, and show the team how they can move forward. Ultimately, managers and the drummers are not the most obvious determinants of success, but in most cases they usually are.
4. Unwavering Commitment
Dragon boaters are fiercely committed to the sport. Most train in and out of the water several times a week to ensure they are physically and technically ready when the big races arrive. Anyone who is not wholeheartedly devoted to the cause is unlikely to survive in this competitive environment.
In the office, it is essential that everyone is committed to performing their duties to the best of their abilities. As projects drag on and tasks build up, you don’t want team members that are going to disappear or shirk responsibility. This can impact upon not only project completion dates, but also team morale.
5. Fierce Focus
Whilst it takes months of intense training to get the team ready, both physically and technically, a typical dragon boat racing is over in mere minutes. As the boat sets off, the team is fixated on achieving perfection. Every paddler fights to keep time, reach further, pull harder and recover quicker. No one wants to make a mistake, and everyone wants to taste victory. Each passing wave and gust of wind is felt more intensely within the funnelled vision of a big race.
The last leg of any project is the hardest. Whether it was a relatively small project, or the big one you’ve been waiting your entire life for, chances are it dragged on that little too long or didn’t pan out quite as you imagined. In these vital last few weeks, days, or even hours, you will need your team to be intensely focused on getting it completed.