ETNZ: What we can learn from Dean Barker and his team

ETNZ-2The 34th America’s Cup – what times of great thrill, frustration and deep sense of loss we endured individually and as a nation.

But we also saw what an engaged, high performing team and great leadership looks like.

Here are six lessons on deeper values that we can learn from Dean Barker and his team.

1) Honesty and integrity – with Dean there is no acting, clichéd lines or “talking up” because that is the thing to do. What we get is a rare and refreshing sense of a real person with heart, soul and guts who calls it as he sees it.

A great embodiment of authentic leadership.

It is not surprising that the whole country got behind the team, despite the loss.  Honesty is a prized value appreciated by most.

2) Humility and grace – even when ETNZ were on a roll the first half of the race, Dean Barker showed no sign of arrogance about his team or getting personal about the defenders in any way.

Not only did he stay a true professional and great sportsman-like but he also showed that rare quality of GRACE.

3) Composure – Too much wind, not enough wind, wrong currents, having a winning start but the race being abandoned twice, leading and crossing the line by the biggest margin in this race but missing the forty minute threshold.

The team kept its coolness and exposure and continued to give their 100% best shot right to the last race.

Dean’s wise words, “we just have to focus on the next race.”

4) Collaboration and interdependence – unlike many other sports where individual players become identities, here we saw what real teamwork is.

Every member on the boat is needed and has a role to play. The roles and responsibilities are clear as is the interdependence between them.

No individual stars or silos here. It is a team effort through and through.

5) High levels of trust – Having a history together certainly contributes to a high level of trust – a necessary bedrock in any high performing team.

All team members, business and community leaders  need to be asking the question ‘how we can foster more trust in our team?’   See earlier blog on how to do this.

6) Team culture as a leader, what is the team culture you are creating? Grant Dalton clearly had a strong role in setting up the culture of ETNZ.  Something the team all bought into. We saw maturity, commitment and emotional intelligence in Dean and his team.

The boys need to take heart from the fact that they did everything they possibly could but given the superior technology booster in the end, it was what it was.

Of course , great teams don’t just happen – there are some fundamentals that need to be put in place such as getting the right people ( skills and attitude) on board, having a vision, guiding principles and values to navigate especially when the going gets tough and then continuing to stay committed to the purpose with resilience and composure.

As for ETNZ – A CLASS act from a CLASS team.

Jasbindar Singh is a business psychologist and executive coach who through reflection and action, helps leaders and teams lift their performance to another level.

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