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How Much Swing Does Your Leadership Team Have?

Every team faces adversity in their business. Sometime we bring this adversity on ourselves and sometimes it’s caused by events outside our control. Either way, these events feel really heavy and dire when they are presented. Whether it is being threatened with the loss of a large customer, loss of a deal the business desperately needs, a strategic vendor goes out of business, you find yourself in the wrong business, or loss of a number of highly skilled team members that are key to the operation, it feels devastating. Situations like these require a strong response and a leadership team to come together to create a plan and go to work on relentlessly executing that plan.

In rowing, there is a phenomenon called “swing.” In his book, Boys in the Boat, about the 1936 Olympic rowing team, Daniel James Brown talks about the phenomenon.

“There is a thing that sometimes happens in rowing that is hard to achieve and hard to define.  Many crews, even winning crews never really find it. Others find it but can’t sustain it. It’s called “swing.” It only happens when all eight oarsmen are rowing in such perfect unison that no single action by any one is out of sync with those of all others. It’s not just that the oars enter and leave the water at precisely the same instant. Sixteen arms must begin to pull, sixteen knees must begin to fold and unfold, eight bodies must begin to slide forward and backward, eight backs must bend and straighten all at once. Each minute action – each subtle turning of the wrist-must be mirrored exactly by each oarsman, from one end of the boat to the other. Only then will the boat continue to run, unchecked, fluidly and gracefully between pulls of the oars.  Only then will it feel as if the boat is part of each of them, moving as if on its own. Only then does pain entirely give way to exultation. Rowing then becomes a king of perfect language. Poetry, that’s what a good swing feels like.”

This passage was amazingly powerful to me – poetry indeed! Imagine what your business could accomplish if your Leadership team had swing.

  • No individual is more important than another.
  • Each individual knowing what they contribute to the whole and are ready to act in sync with his/her team members.
  • Each person possessing and living the values of the organization.
  • Extremely skilled people in the right roles and fulfilling the responsibilities of their seat.
  • They have the vision of the organization committed to mind and heart so they are willing to dig deep and steer the course.
  • There is open, honest, transparent communication.

No politics. No blame game. Perfect execution. Stellar Collaboration. Sweet Success! Who wouldn’t want their organization to have swing.

“A good swing does not necessarily make crews go faster, except to the extent that if no one’s actions check the run of the boat, rowers get more bang for their buck on each stroke.  Mainly what it does is allow them to conserve power, to row at a lower stroke rate and still move through the water as effortlessly as possible, and often more rapidly than another crew rowing less efficiently at a higher rate.  It allows them to possess a reserve of energy for a gut wrenching, muscle screaming sprint at the end of the race.  It is insanely difficult to keep a good swing as you raise your rate.  As the tempo increases, each of the myriad separate actions has to happen at shorter and shorter intervals, so that at some point it becomes virtually impossible to maintain a good swing at a high rate. But the closer a crew can come to that ideal – maintaining a good swing while rowing at a high rate – the closer they are to rowing on another plane, the plane on which champions row.”

Brown goes on to tell us that swing doesn’t guarantee success. It gives us more control, energy and efficiency to endure the challenge.

The Entrepreneurial Operating System® helps teams get their swing! Give me a call at 630-728-4177 to find out how I can help your leadership team start operating on a higher level to accomplish more.

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