10 Lessons in Teamwork

Lessons from the Edge of Endurance

The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, 723 grueling miles, is one of the most demanding sailing events anywhere. In 1998, an unexpected massive storm hit at the wrong time. Waves reaching eighty feet and winds hitting 105 mph pummeled the vessels. Australia launched the largest search and rescue operation in history. In the end, six sailors lost their lives. One hundred fifteen boats started the race, but only forty-four finished.

Leadership expert Dennis Perkins and co-author Jillian Murphy decided to write the untold story of the AFR Midnight Rambler, the 1998 Hobart race winner.

1. Dennis, let’s talk about your new book Into The Storm. Obviously, readers will compare the story of the AFR Midnight Rambler to your previous work and Endurance. How do you compare the two and what led you to the story of the 1998 Hobart? Author Dennis Perkins

Writing about The Ramblers was part of my own journey to find ways of helping leaders and teams deal with daunting challenges. I use stories of adventure and survival to communicate critical strategies that can be used by people in any challenging situation.

The approach began when I was teaching at Yale University, and I began thinking about my voice in the world of leadership and teamwork. I had my own experience with survival in the U.S. Marine Corps, but I believe that success with any significant team challenge has the same underlying ingredients. So I began researching stories of groups that had faced the limits of human endurance, a place I call The Edge.

Break Your Routine

Routine is the enemy of creativity.

Now, somewhere someone is arguing with that idea, saying that routine can enhance creativity. Routines can allow our brain to go on autopilot for the unimportant.

Sure, there is likely truth in that.

But, I think that occasional, even small changes can fire up our brain’s neurons and create new connections. We travel the same paths so often that we often miss the changes occurring on the route.

Before:

  1. My alarm goes off, and I follow the same pattern I have for years.
  2. I drive the same route to work.
  3. I follow a routine when I arrive at work.
  4. Each meeting follows a pre-set agenda and most are held in a conference room.
  5. I rush from task to task with little time left.
  6. The day ends, I head to the gym and start my routine workout.
  7. I rush home in time for dinner and helping with homework.
  8. I drive home and the evening is much the same as the one before.
  9. I watch the news and read a book.

The less routine, the more life. Amos Bronson Alcott

After:

  1. The alarm goes off, and I reverse my pattern. I get up fifteen minutes early, and go outside first. My thoughts are not about the daily “to do” list but instead focused on the nearby tree or the birds.

Lessons from the Ordinary

Yesterday, I was a guest blogger on my good friend Michael Hyatt’s leadership blog.  In Lessons from the Ordinary, I shared observations of everyday, ordinary people and lessons we can learn from them. By being alert and slowing down, we are able to see beyond the obvious.  You can read the full post here.

This was my very first guest post on another blog.  Since I’ve previously written about the benefits of guest posting, I thought I would give it a try.  My own policy of accepting guest posts will be modified in coming days since managing the process is more involved than I previously realized.

Some of the lessons from the post:

People teach us remarkable lessons if we are open to learning.

Criticism we launch at someone else likely has its roots in our own shortcomings.

Everyone is hurting in some way. Everyone needs praise. Get comfortable praising good work.

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9 Qualities of the Servant Leader

At first blush, you may think a servant leader literally takes on the role of a servant. Taken to an extreme, that definition would look like this:

As you pull into work, the leader meets you at your car, opens your door, and welcomes you to the office.  Maybe the leader gets you coffee mid-morning and drops by in the afternoon to see if you need anything.  When you need assistance on a project, or maybe just someone to do the grunt work, there your leader is, waiting for you.

No, that isn’t servant leadership.

Servant leadership is a blend and balance between leader and servant. You don’t lose leadership qualities when becoming a servant leader.

A servant leader is one who:

1. Values diverse opinions.

A servant leader values everyone’s contributions and regularly seeks out opinions.  If you must parrot back the leader’s opinion, you are not in a servant-led organization.

2. Cultivates a culture of trust.

People don’t meet at the water cooler to gossip. Pocket vetoes are rejected.

Leading So People Will Follow

Erika Andersen is a Forbes blogger, a facilitator, consultant, coach, and the founding partner of Proteus International.  She’s also the author of three books:  Leading So People Will Follow, Being Strategic, and Growing Great Employees.  I follow Erika on Twitter and regularly read and share her blog posts.  In all of her writing, she offers advice gleaned from her thirty years of working with executives.
Leading So People Will Follow

I thoroughly enjoyed her most recent book, Leading So People Will Follow and wanted to share this great resource with you.

Erika, this is your third book and really they are related.  For people who aren’t familiar with your work, tell us about each of the books.

Thanks for asking! The three books each have a strong connection to one of our three practice areas at Proteus, the business I founded in 1990.  The first book, Growing Great Employees, is a kind of Boy Scout Handbook for people managers. It’s a very skill-based, practical approach to the whole realm of managing and developing employees: why it’s important and how to do it well.  That book is most connected to the management and leadership training part of our client offer, which we call Building Skills and Knowledge.

The second book, Being Strategic, is most closely connected to our Clarifying Vision and Strategy practice area, where we focus on helping organizations clarify the future they want to create – and then achieve their vision.  That book teaches our model and the associated mental skills for thinking and acting more strategically – in any part of your life.

This new book, Leading So People Will Follow, is connected to our Developing Leaders practice area, where we focus on coaching individual leaders and teams of leaders to get ready and stay ready to succeed into the future.

In your latest book, stories and folklore play a big part.  I love that because children’s books are filled with powerful leadership lessons.  Why did you choose to use fairy tales and stories to get your points across?