Lesson 1: Feed on the energy stress creates

Watch: 6 Leadership Lessons Learned at Sea

When 15 men race across the ocean for nearly nine days, they learn lessons in life and leadership.


After nearly nine days at sea, traveling 3342 nautical miles, 15 sailors, most of them amateurs, broke the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers course record. Rick Bomer was among the sailors who completed the extreme journey from the Canary Islands to St. Lucia. Rick’s experience stays with him during his day job as Coalesse’s sales director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa because what he learned at sea can be applied to leadership.

Rick identified six leadership lessons he took away from his intense experience on the water. They all revolve around creating trust in the workplace. The emotional sail created a bond between teammates that will stay with them for life. Rick still hears from his teammates — some even do business together. He says business is easy now because they already trust one another. These men stayed calm, overcoming storms and broken equipment all while running on four hour sleep shifts. If they didn’t work together, the ship could capsize.

Scroll through Rick’s photos below to read about his six lessons.

Lesson 1: Feed on the energy stress creates

Focus on what to do with the extra energy boost stress gives you. And, choose the most valuable option - collaborate.

Lesson 1: Feed on the energy stress creates

When you turn your attention toward the team, the instinct to avoid stress will go away. You’ll be able to face the source of that stress and turn it into an extremely powerful, positive energy flow.

Lesson 1: Feed on the energy stress creates

With more than 600 nautical miles to go, the team was forced to problem solve when their main sail broke. Despite the setback, they still broke the course record.

Lesson 2: Give everyone a turn to lead

In a race of this length, it is essential that team members stay refreshed and rejuvenated because they all share responsibility for keeping the boat moving at full speed.

Lesson 2: Give everyone a turn to lead

The crew is divided into teams. Each teammate is in charge when his or her turn comes and each person takes time to rest.

Lesson 2: Give everyone a turn to lead

If someone is struggling, others are there for assistance. It is critical people do not become overtired and ineffective.

Lesson 3: Communicate what is needed, when it’s needed. Not more. Not less

When the person steering the boat is constantly changing from one team to the next, clear communication is key to pursuing a consistent strategy.

Lesson 3: Communicate what is needed, when it’s needed. Not more. Not less

When another person is taking the wheel, you can’t assume they see what you see. The handoff must be effective and efficient.

Lesson 3: Communicate what is needed, when it’s needed. Not more. Not less

Lesson 4: Be mindful

Lesson 4: Be mindful

Lesson 4: Be mindful

The team is counting on you to be “in the moment” and stay true to a set of agreed-upon principles.

Lesson 5: Anticipate risk and the consequences of your response

At sea, and often in business, you don’t have control over external factors. Effectiveness depends on being able to anticipate the consequences of all the factors and make decisions accordingly.

Lesson 5: Anticipate risk and the consequences of your response

Sailors are constantly trying to find the balance between getting somewhere safely and getting there quickly.

Lesson 5: Anticipate risk and the consequences of your response

Just as in business, sailors are guided by their ability to anticipate what will happen and the impact of each potential response.

Lesson 6: Be willing to lose sight of the shore

Rick says after you’ve been at sea for a week, you may wonder, “Why on earth did I do this?” That’s when you have to reconnect with your own strengths and values to reinvigorate yourself.

Lesson 6: Be willing to lose sight of the shore

Rick says he learned it took courage to cross the ocean and even more courage to do it while building such tight relationships with others.

Lesson 6: Be willing to lose sight of the shore

The lessons learned at sea translate to people striving to be their best at work. “Only when we are willing to lose sight of our established habits, instincts and social conventions can we fully trust each other and truly, deeply connect as human beings,” says Rick.

Rick says people continue to reach out to him after he first shared his story. He’s grateful so many people find what he learned valuable. He says this race taught him what it feels like to be on the edge of what’s possible and what is not. Sports creates an informal atmosphere that allows people to be themselves and creates stronger relationships — relationships that last. Rick says he will sail in the race again, but this time, he may not go to such extremes.


You may also like

Leadership at Sea

The New Leader

Watch: Can Your Workspaces Make You a Better Leader?

Infographic: Reimagining How Leaders Work

An Evolution of Leadership Spaces

Leadership Under Pressure: Inside the Executive Office

Author

Rebecca Charbauski

Senior Communications Specialist

Rebecca, an Emmy-winning journalist, reports on global research impacting the places where people work, learn and heal. Over her career, Rebecca spent 17 years covering local and national news events on television and a variety of digital platforms. She directed a digital news group in Kansas City for three years before becoming news director in Grand Rapids, Michigan for more than five years. Prior to Steelcase, Rebecca worked with one of the four largest media groups in the United States to coordinate news coverage among 48 newsrooms from the east to west coast.

CATEGORIES: Corporate

Leave a Comment

Already have a Steelcase account or want to sign up?