From Dragon Boating to Business Managing

Dragon Boating is one of the sports that when you’re having fun with it, you’ll dedicate your life to it. From there, you and your teammates can read each other’s mind, communicate with each other without verbally saying anything. It’s that amazing!

If our 8 hours a day at the office can be spent as if we are on a dragon boat, making sales numbers at work will be as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.

Here’s how

1. Teamwork to achieve One Goal

Dragon Boat – One goal and that is to win the competition TOGETHER. The front paddlers keep good timing, the middle paddlers serve as the engine, and the rear paddlers stay back to react to unexpected circumstances.

Making Sales – One goal and that is to win the deal TOGETHER. Different teams focus on different tasks. In an IT firm, business development team defines business strategies while system developers contribute speedy and quality of work. All standby for unexpected circumstances that come at anytime.

2. Steersman stays low profile at the back

Steersman is key to lead the Dragon Boat goes straight during the race. However, such an important person stays at the very back of the boat. Business leaders define missions and visions for the group, but he doesn’t need to be a star at the front row seat. Successful leaders stay low profile to coach employees rather than micro managing every single matter.

3. Drummer controls the pace

Drummer needs not be strong and muscular, rather he needs to be small but energetic. Drummer controls the pace, but he’s not setting the pace based on his own will. His responsibility is to maintain the pace with lots of considerations – team strategy, paddler’s strength, competitor’s performance, unexpected circumstances etc. He is there to cheer up, keeping everyone proactive and to maintain a positive mental and emotional condition.

As for the business leaders, they are setting goals not from his own will, they should be defining goals that the team members are willing to achieve even though there are challenges all over the place. His role is to coordinate and coach the team members to a point that they are proactively reaching their own targets in all circumstances and at the end achieving the team’s goal.

4. Not to distract by competitors

During a race, knowing competitor’s position is important, but each team has their own tactics based on their own strength and conditions. Do not distract by others when your team is behind. The others may slow down when it’s your time to switch gear.

– Stick with the tactics that has been communicated before the race started

– Trust and follow the beat set from the drummer, he takes lots of consideration (both external and internal) to set that speed. Trust that the drummer will adjust the beat when experiencing unexpected circumstances.

– Each race lasts only couple minutes, pay attention to the timing. Once the beat is off, it could cause a major destruction to the team performance.

Same concept for business management, just change the word ‘race’ with ‘pitch’, and ‘drummer’ with ‘leader’. Stay focus to the goal, trust your teammates and not rushing the projects. Keep in mind that rush and speed have different meanings, quality tells it all.

5. Practice, practice and practice

Practice makes perfect. The 2-minute dragon boat race takes up months to prepare. During the practicing period, members get to understand each other’s behavior, set expectations, trial and error to optimize paddling skills and at the end getting everyone’s mind in sync.

There is no difference to win a sales pitch. The team could go through couple rounds of failure before winning the first pitch. Those are the times when team members get to know each other to have their minds in sync.

Conclusion

I’m a weekend Dragon Boat paddler at Wu Kai Sha, Hong Kong. I believe each person is unique and no one can live alone without interacting with others. I believe Dragon Boating is one of the sports that connects everyone together regardless of race, age, gender and religious believe. Initially, language could be a temporary barrier for team communication, but once the team is formed, we’ll create our own team ‘language’. Verbal communication takes only 30% of our communications, the rest of the time, we read each other’s mind without saying a word.

I spend 40 hours at work every week, way more than the 5 hours dragon boat training during the weekends. Yet, the 5 hours I spend on the dragon boat has generated positive insights to my 40 hours work.