Recently, I had the privilege of attending a Motorsport race as a guest of Mazda Motorsports. It was my first professional race and it was truly a fascinating and amazing experience. As a leadership coach, I am always looking for leadership examples and opportunities to grow and this event provided both.
As guests of Mazda, we were given several behind the scenes tours and I was overwhelmed with the amount of effort it takes to create a racing environment. As I looked around and saw row after row of tractor-trailer trucks filled with different items from fully stocked garages to hospitality suites, I pondered the following question, “What does it take to build a successful race team?”
Mazda raced two cars during the 12 hour race and while the race did not go as planned, I believe it was a successful experience. Now I know what you are thinking, “Did they win the race?” No, they didn’t win. In fact, one car had to leave the track due to mechanical issues. So how was it successful when they didn’t win the race? Because the experienced provided an opportunity for the team to apply the principles of building a winning team.
As I observed the team in action, it was evident they were a “winning team” as described by Maxwell. Ok, you’re thinking of course I would say kind words about the team because I was their guest. Well let me give few examples From Maxwell’s 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork to support my conclusion.
- The Law of the Big Picture – Everyone from the greeter in the hospitality tent to the mechanics, drivers and engineers understood the vision of the organization and goal of the race. Yes they wanted to win, however the primary purpose was to test the car and collect data to improve. So when one car left the track, they never loss sight of their goal. They continued to use every opportunity to collect data, refine procedures, and improve.
- The Law of Mount Everest – As the challenge escalates, the need for teamwork elevates. When one car experienced mechanical trouble on the track it was brought to the garage. Before the car arrived at the garage, the mechanics, drivers, engineers, the car’s designer, and representatives from the tire company assembled to review the data. When the car arrive, everyone pitched in to solve the problem. Yes, the drivers also worked on getting the car ready to go back on track. There was no wasted time, energy, or effort.
- The Law of the Compass – Vision gives team members direction and confidence. As the team worked to repair the car, they were still confident and focused on achieving their goal. Although they were losing precious time on the track, they remained focused on the goal.
- The Law of Communication – Interaction fuels action. Watching the car in the pit is like watching an intricate modern dance. Time spent in the pit is time lost on the track. The roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and executed. Through open and frequent communication, the team becomes a well oiled machine.
As a child, my mother would tell me “no man is an island” and we all need to work together to overcome obstacles and achieve success. Teams come in all shapes and sizes but to be successful they must comply with the Laws of Teamwork. Although the Mazda cars didn’t win the race, they demonstrated how to overcome obstacles and achieve success through effective teamwork. They turned their stumbling blocks into stepping-stones on the path to achieving their goals.
Life is full of obstacles. How we respond determines our success. So, the question I’ll pose to you today’s is this: What are you and your team doing to overcome obstacles and are you on your way to success? It is never to late to turn your stumbling blocks into stepping-stones.