Collective performance and personal leadership
Having followed the onboard footage from Dongfeng Race Team throughout the Volvo Ocean Race from the beginning, I have kept wondering how they were doing it.
What drives the crew to endure the kind of living conditions they go through during several months and keep on delivering as they do it?
Sleep deprivation, freeze-dried food, cold, hot, humid, windy weather, physically draining tasks, stress for weeks on end.
To most of us, just one of these elements would suffice to impact our morale, our energy levels, drag us down and make us want to give up.
Yet, they manage to push their performance boundaries further and further. So, is there something that can be learned from their achievements?
People in the crew have chosen to become professional sailors and they are trained for it. Granted, it’s their job. But behind this observation, there is something quite fundamental.
You don’t enter a race like the Volvo Ocean Race, because you are a casual sailor. These people live their passion and some of them realise their dream.
Then, they have worked bloody hard to reach the level they need to be at in this race.
So, the first takeaway is that the alignment with what you do will define in part how far you are able to push yourself to get where you want to be, in good times and more importantly in times of adversity.
That, in itself, is not enough. Whatever your goal, getting there requires work, work and more hard work. At times when security and stability are not the norm any more, perseverance, resilience and adaptability have become more critical to stay in control of your destiny and be able to push yourself towards your goal.
But successes in the Volvo Ocean Race are not just a matter of victory over youself and individual excellence, they are also collective ones. Meaning that the teams must be at 100% all the time and team members will need to compensate any individual drop in performance, whilst they already operate at their physical and mental limits.
This result can only be achieved, if the team goal comes before any personal one. Creating such a mindset requires exceptional leadership skills to grow the mutual respect, trust and abnegation, ensuring that the strain put on people by the race, conflicts and self-interest do not undermine the team performance and compromise its objective.
Watch the account of the personal leadership of Charles Caudrelier’s story on Youtube and listen to his crew sharing their views of him as a leader, to understand how he has managed to bring them to the top of the Volvo Ocean Race, probably the toughest human challenge on earth.
More info: check out ALL4ONE consulting website
Picture credits: © Dongfeng Race Team