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  • A madhouse

    13/10/2014 | Alicante

    In this 'Schouten Blog' Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel (director coaching Schouten Global and coach of Team Brunel) writes, among other things, about her experiences in the talent-selection process, the training sessions on Lanzarote, her presence in the ports of the stop-overs of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015.

    A crazy, busy, exciting, hectic, wonderful and emotional madhouse. Those words probably summarize the last week before the start best. As well as to all the enthusiastic public attention, the team also had to stay focused on packing all the right stuff and making their final preparations.

    Great atmosphere
    No bigger contrast imaginable than between the relatively quiet base camp in Lanzarote and this hectic last week before the start of Leg 1 in Alicante. The opening of the race village, sponsors’ activities that needed attention, In Shore and Pro Am-races, our seminar Leadership: The human factor , and a constantly growing number of visitors. By Thursday there were about 60,000 visitors strolling along the pavilions and the boats. The crew got interviewed by journalists from major newspapers, sports magazines, radio and television crews and Endemol  started  making their  10 episode television series of Team Brunel in the Volvo Ocean Race. And  it was the crew’s  last opportunity to spend time with their families before they started the race. They got their last medical check-ups, massages and had to complete their final preparations, which required a lot of sorting out. Which personal gear has  to be in the flight container to Cape Town? What to put in the sea container that sailed to Abu Dhabi? And also important, packing for this leg: the freeze-dried food and vitamin pills, spare parts, sails, personal gear - all meticulously stacked in the boat. An important and very precise task; nothing was to be forgotten and it was crucial to take as little as possible; everything was weighed. To wrap it all up: the atmosphere was great, the guys were excited and eager to go, but it was a complete madhouse.

    Positive tension
    In addition to  my hands-on coaching, we arranged a big crew meeting to talk about the bigger picture, evaluation of the training period and to say goodbye to the extra shore crew that helped us out in Alicante. We shared insights into the whole process of the campaign and put specific focus on leaving, sailing the leg itself, arriving and stop-over-planning for Capetown, for both crew and shorecrew. As soon as the bigger picture was there I could relate to their mental state. How were they doing right than, and how in the perspective of leaving and saying goodbye to their loved-ones? In short: very busy and tense in a positive way, looking forward, ready and very eager to go.

    We also talked about what if something severe happened on board or at home and how we should arrange things after arriving in Cape Town. I was impressed how firm they all immediately knew how they personally wanted communications to be handled in those circumstances, even when they hadn’t considered fully before.

    Their family fully supports them. It is wonderful to see how independent and enthusiastic their wives and girlfriends are; to hear how they have taken  a sabbatical of their job, or planned  to work digitally, how arrangements have been made to hometeach children, all to be able to be there at the stop-overs. It was valuable to meet  them and learn more about the background of the guys. It was impressive how they couldn’t wait to welcome their loved ones  in Capetown, but were insistant that they had to leave now: ‘It is time, he’s ready for it!’  And it was a pleasant surprise to get compliments form the guys families on my coachinterventions .

    Successful seminar
    The Schouten Global seminar Leadership: The human factor was a big success, with great speeches from Tom Touber (COO Volvo Ocean Race),  Paul Byrne (CEO Schouten International), Martin Euwema (Professor Organizational Psychology, Leuven University) and Bouwe Bekking who – very flattering – called me his secret weapon. My presentation was about creating high performance teams, aligning research on collective ambition and team leadership with examples of the coaching and the performance of  Team Brunel. The corporate leaders in the audience  were curious how  the metaphor of this sailing crew could help them in their  business-performance. Some interesting questions arose. For instance, how do you keep your staff motivated  when there are big ego’s in the board of your organization? Header-Events-overview-site.pngBouwe: ‘The answer lies in having a collective ambition and realizing that you need each other, that you cannot get there alone.’ And that is spot on: align values, value differences in behavioral styles and find your balance between autonomy and integration. And yes, I could add, unfortunately sometimes values have grown too far apart. Then the best option for both parties might be that one of them leaves, because staying only leads to mediocre performance.

    Umberto Tan as leg jumper
    On the big day all crews head for the boats in the sailor’s parade. Time for their last hugs and kisses with their beloved ones on the dock. An emotional moment. And then it’s time. Exactly at that moment  our physiotherapist Mark Haak and me had to leave for a live radio interview with Umberto Tan (BNR).  Luckily Anita, our shore-manager, got us in the RIB and we speeded to Team Brunel. Umberto sails with them the whole first part before he jumps off. Umberto’s reaction afterwards is priceless: ‘This really is a good team. There’s little talking but everybody knows exactly what to do. Their timing is spot on. We were in first position the whole time. Top!’   

     Want to join one of our seminars at stop-overs? Click here for more information.


    Nothing from this blog may be reproduced without written permission from Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel of Schouten Global.

    Update Team Brunel, October 13, 2014 
    by Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel, Director Coaching - Schouten Global
    Coach - Team Brunel in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15

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