Tour de ‘Me’ or Tour de ‘Team’?
Weather you are a cycling fan or not, the Tour de France is an inspiring event to follow. Watching these super athletes ride hundreds of km day after day, climbing mountains and averaging speeds of 40 – 60km per hour is amazing. Complemented by some of the most spectacular scenery and historical relics around, it is truly amazing.
The Tour de France, Tour Down Under and other the Pro Cycling circuit in general presents some great messages and lessons in team work.
The first question – Is cycling an individual or team sport?
On the surface you may think that it is and individual pursuit- every man for himself trying to get across the line first. However, when you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that it is anything but individual.
It is in fact very strategic and team orientated pursuit. Teams work together to get the best result. Sure, at the end of the race there is an individual winner that stands on the podium and takes the glory, but he would not have got there without the support of his team.
So how do cycling teams work and what is they trying to achieve?
Teams elect a leader (the cyclist that has the best chance of winning) and it is the job of all the other team members (called ‘domestiques’) to protect the leader and get the leader into the best position to win.
Its all about conserving energy and being efficient. There are a number of strategies that the ‘domestiques’ will use to conserve the energy of the leader over the three weeks of 150km+ per day stages (aside from time trials and rest days)…the point being that it is a VERY strategic sport and teams must be flexible and adaptable plan and adapt their strategy to stay ahead of the competition.
Firstly, teams have an identity (name) and purpose and understand why they exist. All members of the team understand what team they are apart of and their role within the team.
Secondly, every cyclist within the team has a particular role and strength within the team. Some are sprinters, some are mountain climbers and others are the consistent, reliable quiet achievers. Did you know that an individual or team can still make the podium without even winning any one stage, as long as they are consistent?
The team understands who is good at what and plays to these strengths.
Thirdly, a big part of the team doesn’t even get on the bike! There are team managers, mechanics, support crew etc. These roles are no less important than the cyclists themselves as without these roles, the cycling group would not even make it to the stat line!
Fourthly, team strategies are clear, understood and adapted to the situation called for.
Finally, egos are put aside for the greater good of the team – such a key point! All riders would like to cross the line first but this would not result in a win for the team.
How is your workplace riding?
What are the lessons we can take from the Tour de France and reflect on in the workplace?
1. Does your team understand it’s purpose and why it exists?
2. Teams are interdependent and will not ‘win’ without a whole team effort – all parts must be well oiled to function smoothly. No one role within a team is less important than another – whether you are the CEO or an operations team member!
3. Does your team have a balanced skill set and have the right people in the right roles?
4. Is your team committed and consistent rather than having short bursts of high performance?
5. Is your team working for the greater good of the team rather than themselves?