Leadership Lesson from a Boat Race

There were four competing teams. Three members in a team. We positioned ourselves at the end of the pool and prepared to blow the paper boats toward the opposite direction. Whoever reaches the other end of the pool wins!

“Ready. Set. Go!”

With all my might, I pushed out all the air from my lungs and blew the top of our boat. “That should move it swiftly,” I thought. But instead of sailing inches, it tumbled down. I didn’t know what to do next. I stopped.


Thanks to my teammates who are wiser and more experienced. (Let’s call them Uncle Vic and Uncle Nedo.) Without batting an eyelash, they started blowing and moving the boat toward the other direction. I closely observed as I moved with the current they were creating.

From my periphery, I could see that we were ahead of the pack. Then came our cheerleader, Uncle Benz, shouting, “Chris! Chris!” I didn’t know what he meant but I guess he was saying, “Hey, do something there buddy!”

Then realized, “Oh yes, I am not helping in blowing the boat to the other end.” I was simply walking and seemingly supporting and navigating through the current, as if there were waves coming from the water source of the pool.

Thankfully, that shout summoned my senses and I started blowing. Now with a sound strategy – instead of blowing the top of the boat, I targeted the base – and together with the last air supply from the powerful lungs of Uncle Vic and Uncle Nedo, we finally docked our boat at the edge of the pool.

We looked around and saw the other teams still blowing their boats. “Oh yes, we won! We won!” My three wise uncles gave me their high fives. We cheered! We shouted! We celebrated!

While showering several minutes later, with my introspective and reflective nature, I whispered to myself, “That’s a valuable leadership lesson out there! I thought I am an adaptable and flexible leader. Usually, I would be very quick to adjust to the situation. But in that event, I lose it. I froze. It took time for me to look at the circumstances before I started moving again – and with a better strategy. Without Uncle Vic and Uncle Nedo, who were so quick to think and act, we could have lost the race. I was reminded that I have a weakness which may be a strength of others. I was reminded that I can do something but I cannot do it all. I was reminded that I have skills but I don’t have all the skills. I was reminded that we are called to lead others and to lead withothers.”

In every team, company or organization, members with different experiences and strategies are there for a reason. Different leadership styles and approaches are there for a reason. They are there to complement each other. They are there to address certain instances. Certain situations call for certain styles. Certain events demand certain strategies. And if you are not quick to adjust, at least, someone in the team should. Sometimes, it is the person in the position. Sometimes, it is not. After all, each member should be ready because each member is a leader.

For as leaders, we need to involve ourselves in the team. As leaders, we need to act. As leaders, we need to adjust. As leaders, we need to observe closely and be ready to cope with the current of change while upholding our personal values and the core values of the organization. For as leaders, we need to lead!

And here’s a natural benefit: when we lead, we grow! It happens. It’s the way it is.

Let’s continue leading and growing. If you are based in Baguio City or somewhere near, let me personally invite you to join us at the GROWTH Summit on July 14 (Saturday, 8am-5pm). For more details, visit www.chrisdaoanis.com/growthsummit or email info@chrisdaoanis.com. You may also text 0945-761-6577.) Take this opportunity to meet leaders (irrespective of positions) who can help you grow and also grow with you! I look forward to seeing you there!


(This article first appeared on Herald Express — Chris Dao-anis’ column The Speaker.)

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