How Leadership Is Like Rowing

John Flottmeyer
January 6, 2017 0 Comment

What rowing has taught me about effective team building & marketing

rowing teamwork
My crew! I’m in the “6 seat”.

I started a learn to row program 2 years ago and have learned many lessons from those skinny boats, long oars, long hours on the water, teammates and coaches. I thought rowing looked like something fun to try, but little did I know how much I would fall in love with the sport. I love the complexity of it, the competition, the teamwork and the teammates that I row with that cheer everyone on and lift you up along the way.

I also consider my business a team sport. When everyone at Voila! Media Group is on the same page, we succeed, and our clients succeed. When our team gets it right, we accelerate forward, passing competitors. We train to be as good as we are, making small tweaks along the way with project management, project tracking, and organization.

At the end of a Regatta (rowing race), we all gather in a huddle and discuss our performance. How was the pace, how did it feel, what could we have done better? Just like the end of a rowing race, each year, we have a team meeting to gather feedback on what went well & what we could work on the following year.

Ever watched a rowing event during the Summer Olympic games?

It doesn’t seem terribly difficult on television as the boat soars smoothly across the open water in a straight line. But without critical timing and maximum effort, the boat would tip erratically and miss its destination careening sideways.

Leadership makes it all work together by ensuring that everyone pulls and pushes at the right time. Conditioning is key to fight off exhaustion in the later stages of the race when seconds count. Proper conditioning only comes when the team works together.

Managers and employees both work toward the same goal within a company, sports team or volunteer group. When leaders establish goals for the team and hold individuals accountable to high standards, performance will follow.

Lessons I’ve learned in both business & rowing;

Small Movements Can Have a Big Impact

Most of work and play is governed by clocks and deadlines. Yearly reports and quarterly figures all exist in corporate culture and are a form of accountability. Good leaders don’t push others into a rigorous schedule before they are ready. They take on projects and events slowly and build up to larger tasks through small successes.

Rhythm & Balance

If you push when you should be pulling, the boat goes backwards, or even worse, you lose your balance and fall into Rowing lessons in leadership and marketingthe bottom of the boat or the river. The same is true with your marketing. Leaders set the ‘stroke’ or pace of the boat and encourage others to follow through with energy and rhythm. Leading by example means setting a pace for others to follow. Good managers do the best work on a project and ensure that everyone is focused on the same goal.

Being Small Doesn’t Mean Being Weak

By holding up the team as a unit, leaders make it possible for the group to have success. People are naturally competitive and putting the needs of the group before individual glory takes practice. Effective leaders know how to stress teamwork through their verbiage and demonstration.

Voila! Media Group is a small company, but large enough to work on big city projects because we have the right rhythm in place. One person might set the rhythm of the workflow, but it takes everyone’s hard work to finish the job.

How is Your Balance?

Are you pulling in prospects or just pushing your information out? We can help you review your marketing materials to see if you have the correct balance to keep your business afloat. Take a look at your website, brochures, newsletters, social media with a critical eye and give us a call if you would like a second opinion.

Article by: Shelly Burr

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Minneapolis Rowing Team
My teammates, Minneapolis Rowing Club

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