Copyright Dan Atrill, Flickr Creative Commons

Copyright Dan Atrill, Flickr Creative Commons

Sports metaphors abound in business, but the Tour de France (which recently concluded) offers some interesting perspectives for business leaders.  There are obvious similarities between the Tour and business, like the need for a captain and an intact team.

There are other similarities that may not be so obvious, but are quite important.

There may be more than one way to “win”

The Tour actually has many categories for winning.  The ultimate goal is to win the overall event (the “yellow jersey” based on time), but there are many other ways to win.  There are daily awards for the stage winner for that day, there are awards for best younger rider, there are awards for the fastest time trial, fastest time for the mountain stages…  So many definitions of winning.  In your own business, you might think about other interim goals for winning in your business or organization goals.  Goals like: improved employee engagement, more global customers, repeat business from existing clients, reduced numbers of client complaints, …not just end goal of increased sales or profits.

The captain needs to share

In the Tour the team captain stands on the podium with the yellow jersey, but everyone knows it was team effort that got their captain there.  The captain needs to share the accolades and be gracious and honest about the contributions of all those around them. According to one of Lance Armstrong’s old books (yes still on my bookshelf), Tour winners will also bonus the rest of the support team for the win. Likewise business leaders should share the glory and rewards with the rest of the organization.

The team talks to one another constantly

Notice those ear phones for each of the riders?  Yes they talk to each other constantly in order to work on news about the competition, make adjustments to the plan, and check on each others condition.  Not a bad idea for your business either.

As you move your team forward, use some of the habits of the elite distance athletes of the world and ask yourself the following:

What additional definitions to winning can you use?

To what extent is everyone sharing in the winning?

To what extent are you communicating effectively as a team on a daily basis?