I have long held that I prefer to have all rowers in the boat rowing in unison, even if not necessarily in the perfect direction, rather than seeking the perfect direction and pushing all rowers to row hard (and independently). Depending on how one words this phrase, one can easily sway the argument one way or the other. In any event, I was seasonably and happily surprised to find, courtesy of the Economist article of March 31, “Rhythm and Blues,” that some academic research had also been poured into this very metaphor of management. Specifically applying his theory to the annual Oxbridge boat race, Mark de Rond, a management theorist from Cambridge’s Judge Business School — and Cambridge’s coach — favored a flamboyant well-liked rower over a stronger smoother rower believing he would get the most out of his crewmates. The trick of the selection is finding a careful balance between competitivity and co-operation. There is mention of supporting evidence in a Harvard Business Review article “which found that workmates prize amiability over ability, preferring the ‘loveable fool’ to the ‘competent jerk.'” It must have been quite gratifying for deRond as Cambridge won by more than a length in this year’s (153rd) race. I think the metaphor can easily lead into the notion of how good rock’n’roll bands need a good (flamboyant) drummer and base guitarist.
Minter Dial is an international professional speaker, author & consultant on Leadership, Branding and Digital Strategy. After a successful international career at L’Oréal, Minter Dial returned to his entrepreneurial roots and has spent the last ten years helping senior management teams and Boards to adapt to the new exigencies of the digitally enhanced marketplace. He has worked with world-class organisations to help activate their brand strategies, and figure out how best to integrate new technologies, digital tools, devices and platforms. Above all, Minter works to catalyse a change in mindset and dial up transformation. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993). His books include Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence, which bowed in December 2018. He is also co-author of Futureproof (Pearson, Sep 2017) and sole author of The Last Ring Home (Myndset Press, Nov 2016), a book and documentary film, both of which have won awards and critical acclaim. Minter's latest book, You Lead, How being yourself makes you a better leader, published by Kogan Page, won the Business Book Award 2022 in the category of Leadership. His current work is around fostering more meaningful conversation, with his featured publication on Substack: Dialogos, Fostering More Meaningful Conversations. It's easy to inquire about booking Minter Dial here. View all posts by Minter Dial