The Boss of Me – Management Lessons from TDF

Rising up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive….

I have clocking a few kms on my cycle and therefore, once more I am back to the TDF. Its been a while since this year’s event got over, but its stuck in my head like Eye of the Tiger in an endless loop. The more I think, the more I try and see what the key take aways are from something as legendary and as ignored (here in India, of course) as the Yellow Jersey.

I am no management guru, nor do I aspire to be one, but hey, in case if I can meddle with my pedal, here are some management lessons, IMHO:

The sport is physically gruelling. The level of fitness is the same for almost all competitors. They all look the same – thin, lean figures, matching stroke for stroke. Yet what separates that one winner – like all management gurus will tell you, winning is a state of mind. You have to be tough up there, pushing, fighting, believing in yourself, not giving up, chasing, drawing on your reserves of power. Until. Until you win.

The next lesson is to know when to sprint – that, probably is the key to decision making of any kind. We can choose to be the part of a pack gunning for the same thing, the same project, the same market and yet need to know when to leave the pack behind. All decisions are a race against time. Caution – do make sure you can hold off the chasers till the finish line – many a break has failed, just because the leader broke too early or did not have enough resources to hold back the challengers. That of course is lesson number 3 – do not move too early.

Oh and which will lead us to lesson number 4. Don’t worry if someone has broken from the pack and is sprinting for the goal. The endgame is to win. The opportunity is to come from behind. And chase down the leader. That makes the victory sweeter. Though in this strategy you are dealing with a few unknowns – all the resources of the leader may not be known to you, the move may be a faux, the leader could be a pace setter for the guy behind you. The possibilities are n+1.

The only thing that matters is pushing the boundaries. And doing the maths. That’s where the win lies. You don’t have to be the leader in every stage. Or if you are a marketing guy, the leader in every territory or segment. The sum of your parts must be greater than that of everyone else. That’s all that matters. That’s how Chris Froome wins. That’s how Team Sky does it. That’s how Fabian Cancellara never did it – the Cancellara of having worn the yellow jersey for most number of days, and yet having never won the TDF.

Finally, be there for the grind, be in it for the long haul. Learn from Sylvain Chavanel – his first TDF was in 2001. His last in 2018, aged 39. 19 Tours. And at 39 he was as good, if not better than most 23-25 year olds. All in the mind, like I first said.

Oh and Teamwork. There is nowhere where teamwork doesn’t matter. You need a team. Everyone has one. A good one. Therefore, you need a damn good one. Sharing your vision. Dedicated. Focussed. Aiding. Abetting. Working. Together.

Some final words. Strategy. That is the machine you push. You are the effort, body and mind on that cycle called strategy. Make it work for you.

If you dont have a bicycle, you can’t win the TDF, can you?

 

 

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