MANAGERIAL LESSONS FROM RUNNING RELAY RACES

I started off as a runner in relay race teams in the early years of my schooling and went on to represent my school in sub-district, district, and mini-state level competitions.  I have participated in sprinting competitions too, but it is my experiences running relay races that have helped me most in my work and personal life.

What are the different types of talents required for a relay team to win?

A relay race is all teamwork! Therefore, the mix of skills and attitudes (speed, stamina, performing under pressure etc.) within the relay race team is important. Most of all the aspiration to be victorious against all odds is vital. The team with the best mix of various skills – and a bit of luck on that day – usually wins.

So, what is the combination of skills a relay race team of four runners should aim for?

  • The first player should give a headstart. The person should be able to take off like a rocket and sprint fast to meet the teammate who is ready to receive the baton. This can work wonders. The team members will get charged up and motivated, and it will also put pressure on rival teams.
  • The last runner must be a top-class sprinter who zooms to the finish. This athlete must have a “never say die” attitude and should not succumb to pressure even if the situation is one of having to catch up with rivals who are ahead. The runner’s mind must be set on winning. The runner has to go all out to finish the race first by marshalling all the stamina.
  • It is clear that all runners in the team must be good sprinters.  In addition, the 2nd and 3rd runners must be good take-over from smoothly from their predeccessor, and then handover smoothly to their successors. They must be seen as “bridges” in addition to being great sprinters.

What if one of the players is a highly skilled sprinter but not so good at smooth takeover and hand over? A practical option often used is t

  • to use such a person as the first runner, since the first runner has only one interface (handover to the second runner) and smooth handovers are relatively less difficult than a smooth takeover.

My experiences as a relay runner have greatly helped me in my role as a manager and leader of teams. Every one of my team member brings his or her own set of talents and skills. It is my responsibility as their manager and leader to understand their strengths, and fit them in the right role so that they do well and the team also does well.

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