Wednesday, 20 November 2019

#1: Teamwork and timing

"Timing!" Robbie shouts at us. I am one of two newbies in a beautiful wooden skiff heading out into the Moray firth on a cold but clear and sunny autumnal morning. Coastal rowing has always appealed to me, ever since seeing the teams on the Thames and coastal crews bobbing about in places like Maldon and Ilfracombe.

To work effectively as a team, in this small boat together, we need to get into a rhythm following the 'stroke' and following the calls from the 'cox' who is getting increasingly frustrated, “Come on! Timing!”  It is easy to get distracted, lose concentration and fall out of pace. But once back in the groove there is silence as each of us focuses on the simple act of rowing, and when we get it right we feel the boat gliding nicely across the water.

In the right context, there is something deeply pleasing about being told what to do.  We all have a need to belong to something and finding your place in an effective team is part of this.  Teams need a leader, maybe not one who shouts, but a leader with a plan who knows which point on the horizon to head towards.  But teams also need leaders who people want to follow. People who are happy to time their focused efforts with the rest of the team.  If you want to know what makes a great leader start by following someone you respect, maybe even go rowing with them, and become a good follower first. I am looking forward to my next trip out with Robbie and the team.