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Twitter was ablaze this weekend over the BBC’s focus on James Cracknell in the Cambridge Boat Race team. The controversy raises some questions for teams:

Do stars make your team perform better?

Does it make the team stronger or does it cause tensions within the team?

The boat race answered this question for the Cambridge team, who held Oxford off in the 165th Boat Race. Late changes in the Oxford crew suggests that they had some team dynamics of their own to deal with, so it’s difficult to answer with a simple yes. A different perspective is offered in the historic Oxford Mutiny of 1987, when the American stars were part of the Oxford team. Here the introduction of the foreign stars, one a world cup gold medallist, led to the near destruction of the team and the eventual expulsion of these stars before the race.

So, how do we build a team that performs well and recognises the strengths of every team member?

One way is to use the concept of glide from rowing:

  1. GROWTH: Focus on a growth mindset and encourage the team to learn together. If you have a star in the midst, encourage them to support the rest of the team, as we are only as strong as the weakest team member.
  2. LEADERSHIP: Encourage the team to think of leadership as a team sport, where everyone takes responsibility for the team performance.
  3. INSTINCT: Communicate effectively to develop collective instinct.
  4. DISCIPLINE: Understanding what the basics are that need to be done really well and then improving on these every day. By focusing on improving effort, you amplify your performance in a similar ratio to the movement of the blade, compared to the resulting glide of the boat.
  5. ENERGY: Share the emotions (energy in motion) that impact team performance.

To find out more about how you can achieve glide for your team, contact us and discover the joys of rowing together.