Mission Performance used the Clipper Race platform to run two global development programmes.
The first used the race to activate a coaching skills programme for a client.
The second was an in-depth study designed to capture the unique performance lessons learnt from the race.
COACHING SKILLS PROGRAMME:
The Coaching Skills Programme came to life after a request from a client to create a ‘coaching culture’ across a large population of globally based sales managers.
The client, a global oil field services company, identified coaching as a way to create a ‘generation bridge’ between its most experienced managers and their junior colleagues.
The result was the roll out of a three day programme which takes lessons from elite sport and delivers a package of practical coaching frameworks and tools called ‘The World Class Basics.’
In its second year the programme was augmented by the Clipper Race to increase the learning proposition to the managers.
By connecting with the race in stopover ports around the world, high performing managers were challenged not only to learn the theory but were also given the unique opportunity to put their coaching skills into practice with an experiential sailing challenge on board a Clipper Race yacht.
The programme was run in six different stopover locations and started with three days of classroom theory work.
On the fourth day the managers were challenged to sail on board the Mission Performance team yacht.
Following a morning of sail training, the managers were asked to take control of the yacht and compete in a point scoring challenge against their colleagues.
Sailing proved to be a great metaphor for coaching and teamwork, the groups of managers coached each other in pairs in order to make the boat sail faster.
The manager’s coaching conversations and motivational techniques were evaluated throughout the exercise by Mission Performance experts who provided feedback on their performances.
The Clipper Race provided a unique environment to run an eleven month in-depth study into the lessons learnt from the race, and furthermore aimed to feed these lessons into future Clipper Race development programmes.
Mission Performance is no stranger to studying behaviours in challenging environments, having operated a long list of operations which have included polar expedition races and military operations.
The study designed around the race offered an opportunity to study both the skippers and crew members, to focus on the effectives of leadership in challenging environments.
Other studies have simply focused on the skippers.
The study ran in every major port stopover on the 2013-14 race route and started by collating both positive and negative feedback as experienced by crew members.
A selection of crew members representing all teams were brought together in group feedback sessions, arranged in order to gather this feedback in a controlled and supportive manner.
During the sessions, crew members were asked to reflect on the leg they had just completed, focusing on leadership, team work and communication.
They were also asked to discuss and agree what good and bad leadership looked and felt like from their own perspective.
The insights and feedback were then delivered to the skippers from within their own team.
This allowed each of the skippers the opportunity to stop, start or continue any specifically identified leadership behaviours.
The sessions provided up to date feedback for skippers and provided them with insights into their team’s dynamics.
It also offered the opportunity and tools to develop and refine their teams whilst they raced around the world. Individual coaching and mentoring alongside coaching frameworks were also provided as required.
We considered many alternatives to the Clipper Race but none were prepared to understand the hard commercial objectives we needed to achieve as a result of our investment.
COACHING SKILLS PROGRAMME:
The programme offered Mission Performance’s client a long term strategic coaching framework.
The combination of classroom coaching theory paired with practical sailing experience proved to be powerful.
The managers started out as novice sailors and by the end of the programme were coaching each other to sail faster on board a 70-foot yacht.
The success of the programme comes by being able to demonstrate how to create a powerful preforming team in only a matter of days, highlighting what can be achieved through coaching.
Every leg was extremely competitive and focused on racing.
The involvement from Mission Performance gave the crews and the skippers the opportunity to focus on how they operated as a team and to identify areas for improvement.
Ultimately the yachts are identical but Clipper Race crew members are not.
The crew and skippers are the life blood of the race and their personal and often life changing experiences make the race what it is.
The skippers who listened to and acted on the feedback from their crews to create and sustain a high performing team were the most successful.
As a famous Olympian once said, “feedback is the lifeblood of champions.”
The results of the sessions were also fed back into the Mission Performance development programmes to inform clients, and future Clipper Race skippers and crew.