Leadership lessons from Le Tour de France

by Tia on July 3, 2011

  {Source: www.letour.fr}


As I was watching the Tour de France team time trials earlier today, I kept thinking the stage offered great lessons for any business leader. Here’s my business interpretation of the Tour de France rules for the team time trials (scroll to page 38 of the document for the applicable rules in English):


  • Le Tour de France rule: Classification for the stage is established for each team according to the time achieved by the rider crossing the line in 5th position. Business interpretation: Your team’s overall results are only as good as the median performance of its members.                                                                                 


  • Le Tour de France rule: An identical time is given to all team members arriving at this same time, or before. Business interpretation: Having a few outstanding performers on the team won’t compensate for the team’s median performance.


  • Le Tour de France rule: Competitors who finish outside the cut-off times stipulated by the rules are eliminated. Business interpretation: You need to set some cut-off criteria and address performance that falls behind.


  • Le Tour de France rule: In the case where a team no longer has at least 5 competitors, those remaining in the race are obliged to finish the course within the established cut-off time. Business interpretation: Even if you are down a team member or two (or more), you still need to hold the remaining ones to the established performance criteria.

  • Le Tour de France rule: Assisting team-mates by pushing is forbidden. Business interpretation: This was the hardest for me to interpret. I choose to think it means that collaboration should not be translated into a need to pick up someone else’s slack. Granted, in the business world this is often necessary but if it’s the norm, then your team has a problem and you need to work on it.   


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