Leadership Lessons from the Pit Crew Challenge

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I am writing from Houston Texas where I just finished facilitating a team building program called the Pit Crew Challenge.

This is an awesome program that uses a real Nascar racing car to teach some valuable lessons and I thought I could share a couple of those lessons.

Coaching – In the Pit Crew Challenge we put together a real Pit Crew of 7 people on a team and have them change all 4 tires under the clock in order to improve their time. As part of the exercise we notice that people are very open to getting coaching from one another. And yet at work, many of us are not open to getting or giving coaching to one another. The reason is that in order to be open to coaching, you have to trust and respect the person giving the coaching. This may be because of your relationship or the person’s track record and how they present ideas to you. In us, the block is our ego which gets in the way of hearing advice from others. So put your ego aside and seek out information from those people who you respect and trust.

Internal Competition and Silos – In the Pit Crew Challenge the different Pit Crew Teams start to compete against one another even though we tell them it’s not a competition. The same thing happens in companies when different divisions or departments compete against each other. This builds silos. Mostly this internal competition keeps people from helping each other compete externally to win the customer. Only the external competition really matters – all the internal competition is a distraction from the big prize. Companies lose millions and millions of dollars of opportunities because of silos. To get rid of them watch how you measure people – as soon as you set up a comparison people will compete – even if its only for bragging rights. Pick a measure the whole organization can move towards. The second suggestion is to stop bad mouthing other departments or divisions. When leaders do this it works against the success of the organization.