Minutes of the Meeting at Swale BC 25 March 2011
Andy punctuated his presentation with stills and videos of the race and events on the yacht. He started the presentation by posing the question "What makes a good manager?" In an attempt to answer this question he compared the approach of the two skippers he served under during the race. As an introduction he explained the race. It is the old yacht race open to amateurs in 68 foot stripped down racing yachts. The crew had between them little or no experience, therefore the role of the skipper was paramount. The race covers 35,000 miles, visiting 14 ports over an 11 month period.
Andy gave his reasons for entering the race - a career move; a personal challenge; his interest in leadership; for are charitable cause the Rainbow Trust; and, to learn new skills.
The two skippers took vastly different approaches to managing the crew. The first took a military style which involved little consultation with the crew; win focused; clearly defined roles for the crew; no talking on board; no teas or other drinks on board; being off watch was a priviledge and not a right. The second was a more inclusive manager; the crew shared roles; he consulted with the crew; he treated the experience as a sailing school, teaching the crew different roles; skipper takes a back seat.
There were seven legs to the race and the team won the first leg which gave them all a boost. The second leg was more of a challenge as the conditions where much harder and there had been crew changes. The third leg things began to change they were still in the lead but the attitude was changing there was some resentment towards the skipper and his method of managing the crew, also the yacht collided with one of the other competitors. The fourth leg changed things, the skippers changed and his approach was much more relaxed. During this leg they came across another boat which had foundered and they went to the rescue, however, there was a dispute on how to handle the matter with some of the crew disagreeing with the skipper's decision to hold back until daylight. It turned out that the skipper was correct. the fifth leg was the longest from China to California with 35 days at sea, they learned more about their new skipper and his approach which was to help those doing poorly to do well, and those doing well to do better. This was opposed to the previous skipper whose objective was to win. In leg 6 the boat was dropping down the leaderboard but the crew was finding out that there were more important things than winning. The crew was beginning to enjoy the experience again. The seventh and final leg was to Hull and the end of the race.
In conclusion Andy came to teh conclusion that a leader will be more abrupt and a manager will try to teach and ensure that the lesson is learned and can be passed on. Also that there are other important roles in the team, in particular that of the influencing people. These are the ones with knowledge and experience but no management responsibility but other members rely on them. The people to watch are those who feel that they should be in charge but have no people skills. As Andy said these people are in all teams whether on a yacht or in an office.
Saw some good leadership modles
Should balance winning with experience
Saw some good analogies with management
Putting the theory into practice
Winning isn't everything
Competiveness doesn't make a winner
None of us is as smart as all of us
The only disadvantage of the presentation is that it didn't go on longer, it was fascinating and informative.
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We very much look forward to seeing you at our next meeting.
South Eastern Association Executive Team