At our employees’ suggestion, our company, Conexus, Inc., entered a team to run in the 2017 Penn State Chocolate Tour. As I was pounding away during the Tour’s 10K run, I was thinking about the similarities between running a race and leading a company. Leadership, time management, and efficient use of resources are all important to both running and commercial success.
The Top 10 Things that Runners Can Teach Business Leaders:
1. Sign up/be accountable – Once we decided on our race date, we sent out a company-wide request for people to join us. Those that signed up were held accountable!
2. Train – We had some newbie runners so we researched training programs and created training calendars so that all would be prepared for the race. Make sure that your employees are up to date on the latest training and best practices.
3. Rest – Every runner knows that rest days are as important as training days to keep the body in optimum condition. Employees need time off, so make sure that they take it to re-charge.
4. Know when to walk away – One employee who was planning to race with us tore his ACL about one month before race day. He needed to walk away from this project. If something isn’t working, move on. Know when to pivot.
5. Plan for hills – We studied the race course maps and did some hill training to be ready for those nasty obstacles called hills. Plan for the hard stuff so you are ready when bad things happen.
6. Be efficient – Water stops are important, but don’t lose time at water stations. Learn to crush your cup so you can drink your water while running. Learn to be more efficient in meetings so time is not lost. Don’t have an hour long meeting when you can do it in 20 minutes. Only invite people who truly need to be at the meeting to attend. Don’t waste your’s or anyone’s time.
7. Run in straight lines – There were a lot of right and left turns on our course. It was important that we ran as close to the curb as possible so we were not caught on the outside of a turn. Important time can be lost on curves. Stay the course, don’t wonder away from your goal.
8. Support your teammates – Those who finished early went back out to cheer those who were still running. Your employees are your team. Don’t allow office politics and bickering to break up the team. Create a culture of mutual support.
9. Beat the competition – We studied last year’s winning times and knew what times we had to beat. We trained for those times. Study your competition and learn what they do. Then do it faster and better.
10. Don’t be intimidated by runners who go out fast – Rabbits notoriously go out fast at the beginning of the race, only to run out of gas before the finish. Stay with your training time and enjoy passing those rabbits at the end of the race when you are still running strong. Build your product well, know your product and know how to sell your product and you will be successful. Don’t worry about all of the noise that your competitors may be making. Run your race.
Bonus #11 – Celebrate your victories! We had a great tailgate party after our race with bagels and beers!