Understanding the dynamics of a team is critical to successful goal attainment. What does the team value? What drives the team members and sets them up for success, and more importantly, what derailment obstacles may they encounter?
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to experience the power of collaboration in action. Every year, Oklahoma City hosts a marathon in honor of those who lost their lives in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The 2011 race marked the 11th annual marathon event, which includes everything from 5k races to the full marathon and even a marathon relay. This year, I participated in the marathon relay with an amazing group of women. We called ourselves the Derailing Divas because over the course of 26.2 miles with six driven, socially self-confident, and engaging women there is bound to be a little derailment going on. Although the relay consisted of five legs, the Derailing Divas had six team members. The sixth, The Coach, ran the half marathon and served as the running expert for our team.
The race is not something that the Divas will forget anytime soon. As we left our hotel at 5:30am on Sunday May 1st, the sky was dark and cloudy. Within minutes of arriving at the race site, thunder and lightning came crashing around us and so did the rain…torrential rain. Visions of a beautiful and sunny race day quickly faded, but with these dreary conditions, the Divas’ determination increased.
After a 30 minute delay, I walked to the starting line with The Coach. As we worked our way through the thousands of runners to find our place on the wet pavement, a sense of urgency (HPI Adjustment) and fear of potential failure (HDS Cautious) emerged. Would we be able to complete the relay in these conditions? Am I going to let my team down if I run slower in the rain? In that moment of self-doubt something amazing happened — the race started and as thousands of runners made their way past the memorial, the crowd began to cheer. It was at this point that I realized that the race wasn’t about my time; it was about our team goal to finish the race with a sense of pride for the cause, to have a fun, and persevere despite the weather.
As I started the last mile of my 6-mile leg, my shoes and clothes were soaked, and I was ready to throw in the wet towel. Then I started thinking about our team and the fact that the other Derailing Divas were waiting on me. I began running faster and met The Navigator at the relay station. She greeted me enthusiastically and took off to continue the race. The Navigator eventually met up with The Timekeeper, and as the race progressed, we continued to run faster. When The Timekeeper met The Networker she received updates on everyone’s progress and the weather conditions. On the final transition, The Finisher took the baton and ran with heart and determination to finish the race despite wind, rain, and hail.
When the race was complete, the Derailing Divas had a celebratory lunch and shared stories of their experiences throughout the day. I’m not sure if it was our competitive drive (HPI Ambition) or sensitivity to our teammates’ emotions (HPI Interpersonal Sensitivity) that pushed us to persevere and exceed our own expectations, but the Derailing Divas succeeded. We completed the race 30 minutes faster than we anticipated! The Derailing Divas’ success was impacted by a number of things, but most of all we were successful because we shared a few things in common. The Divas are driven and competitive (HPI Ambition), collaborative and sensitive to others needs (HPI Interpersonal Sensitivity and MVPI Affiliation), and like to have fun and tell a good story (MVPI Hedonism and HDS Colorful). I would certainly be willing to run a race with these Divas again, only next time I hope for a little more sunshine!