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An Enjoyable Twist on a Strengths-Based Approach by Simon Clark

Last week I took off my Managing Partner hat and put on racing gloves. I “crewed” on a racing yacht at Cowes Week… I have done this many times and can report it is both fun and hard graft!

To set the scene – it’s an event for thousands of crew and hundreds of yachts of all shapes and sizes organised by the oldest and most prestigious sailing club in the world – The Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes. Their clubhouse overlooks the Solent, they have impeccable standards and still start all the races with the fire of canons.

The Club was founded in 1815, the club’s patron is Queen Elizabeth II and the club’s admiral is Prince Philip who is also a former club commodore, oh and Admiral Lord Nelson was a member! In 1851 it hosted the first “Americas Cup” which was won by the yacht America and the trophy they received is now the oldest sporting trophy in the world – and Sir Ben Ainsley is hoping to Bring The Cup Home.

So back to strengths in action…..this is one of those sports that relies on individuals working together as a team to achieve an objective. Success cannot possibly be achieved by one person. This week I was one of the “crew”, other members of our included 3 former Royal Navy warship commanders and one submarine commander – in theory we had an advantage! We all have jobs allocated by skill and experience – I was in the middle of the boat as “trimmer”.

Our individual strengths and skills allocated in each area come alive via communication – we are fully briefed on the plan for the race, before the start we all understand how we are going to cross the start line, the navigator guides us most efficiently to the first racing mark respecting the wind and the tide, once rounded we have a clear course to the next mark and so on eventually to the finish. The parallels in business struck me! A focus on strenghts People are deployed into roles where they can achieve best performance individually and for the team A strategy is formed and constantly communicated The crew help each other and look down the track to mitigate surprises and work together on achieving the objective Each person continues to learn and grow


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