Earlier this week I was involved in a sailing regatta. Arguably a once in a lifetime experience for a novice. To set the scene, it was a weekend filled with networking and team-building to put into practice some of the inherently learned tools one acquired on an MBA (Master of Business Administration) programme. Organised by Cranfield School of Management, the event is now in its 26th year.
A pre-requisite for entry is to hold or be studying for an MBA from a triple-accredited institution. It was a given that a number of phrases that only those in the community would understand would crop up. There is corporate speak and then there is MBA speak. Hence the title of this piece and an anchor for some of the banter on the boat that I would find myself on.
External factors led me to be on a team aptly named ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit’. The yacht had the most female heavy crew in the tournament, largely sailing and race sailing virgins. Our skipper on Day One of racing however was indeed a wonder woman. The only female skipper in her organisation and that day was also the first time that she and her male first mate had sailed together.
It’s probably fair to say that everyone who attended made the journey for different reasons – though networking and meeting new people likely the central focal points. Some crews were of course more competitive than others. Not knowing the team dynamics on all thirteen boats may make it hard for me to comment, but where I am aware, being ‘psychologically ready’ has a definitive influence on performance. Coaches – sports or otherwise, may well call this 'mindset'.
My reflections on teamwork:
· Experience and qualifications count, but in context only for the team leader and
· The leader is someone who commands the respect of their crew. This can be
determined by actions on board and off.
· Everyone has a defined role – to some extent, this works better when self-
· Foster an environment where you are not in one another’s way – be able to ask
for help and know it is at hand when required
· If you are going to change roles, unless in an emergency, pick an appropriate
time to do so. It is ok to revert to the old job – particularly if you have a
And for future race sailing, key takeaways:
· Weight does matter in certain conditions.
· The spinnaker can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help. Don’t use it
for its own sake.
· Everyone has their place and from a mindset perspective sometimes being the
‘weight’ may be the contribution.
Day two of racing saw us with a change in skipper and another chap on board! There was some banter about whether there may be random additional prizes outside of 1st, 2nd & 3rd place. A cake that had been purchased for someone who was unable to make the weekend found a good home on board another yacht whose skipper had a birthday.
The team name was correct and its taglines may well have been ‘Wonder women’ and ‘Compassionate boat’. If there had been a prize for the most compassionate boat in the regatta, our yacht would have won it. I don’t know everyone’s back stories, but I knew enough. Kindness, it seems, really does get you a long way. In this case, 6th place.
Photo credit: Karen Rawson