Why leading a peloton is like managing a team in business

By Christopher How | Business

Aug 15

The photo above of me was taken during a recent charity ride that I participated in, cycling 105 km for Club Rainbow Singapore.

For the past few years, I’ve only been commuting to work on my little Dahon foldable bicycle. But after participating in a charity event in 2015, I decided to buy a road bike and get a little more serious about the hobby. Having cycled for close to a year now, I found that there are many things about cycling that you can relate to the world of business.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together

When I first got my road bike, I started riding in the parks to get used to the different postures and tried to master the handling of the bike. Compared to my foldable bicycle, the experience is totally different. Once I got used to it, I started cycling with friend who owned road bikes as well. They say that cycling is the new golf now and I guess it must be true since a lot more people are getting into the sport.

When I cycle on my own, I could go pretty fast but I get exhausted very quickly. There was also very little motivation to improve because I could take my own sweet time on my own. At times when I cycled with my friends, I was able to cycle further and often, faster because there was that invisible force pushing me to keep up with my friends. It also helped that we could draft one another to reduce the amount of effort needed to pedal against the headwind.

When I started my digital marketing career, I’ve found it super easy to execute digital marketing activities on my own and analyse results. However, the effort is simply not scalable when I started planning digital marketing strategies for the entire Asia Pacific. I needed a team in order to decentralise the workload so that I can do more.

Join the right team

There are many cycling clubs in Singapore and while many of these clubs are recreational, some clubs are focus on performance and actively compete in races. I’m into recreational cycling and wanted to improve my fitness but I didn’t want to get into competitive racing (not that I could, anyway).

When I decided to join a cycling club, I made a list of the cycling clubs near my neighbourhood and sought feedbacks from my friends who knows someone in those clubs. I also joined some of these clubs on a few rides to see if there’s any chemistry and whether I have fun cycling with them. Eventually, I decided on a club and became a regular member.

In my career, I was fortunate enough to have had professional headhunters contact me to explore career opportunities with their clients. Although I can’t join them for a few days to see if there’s any chemistry with the team (duh!), I make sure that I ask the right questions during the interview process (for the roles that I’m interested in) to decide if this is the right organisation and team to be in.

Always ensure your team is behind your every decision

When I’m leading the peloton, I have to keep looking back to ensure that the peloton is behind me. I do this more often when we are slowly climbing up a hill or descending after a climb at a high speed because not all cyclists are the same.

At times, some of the weaker cyclists may get dropped on the climb and I need to keep the descend slow so that they can catch up with the peloton. On other ocassions, I could have descended at a faster speed because the peloton has already regrouped.

In business when you lead a project, you will also have to constantly check in with your team members to ensure that everyone is aligned with your objectives and have the bandwidth and resources to support you. Any misalignment could cause a delay in your project milestones or even disrupt the entire project.

Leave no man (or woman) behind

The role of a sweeper in a peloton is to ensure that nobody drops out of the peloton and gets injured or lost without being noticed. In some cases, the lone cyclist may have dropped out of the peloton to take a breather and drafting the sweeper could easily get him back in the peloton.

When we choose to hire an employee for a specific role, we often do it because of the positive attributes that the employee brings to the team. But that employee is not without his weaknesses. As a manager, we need to give the employee the understanding and resources necessary to complete the job. If the employee is falling behind, find out the crux of the problem and address it.

Are you a fellow cyclist as well? I’ve love to hear your thoughts!

About the Author

Christopher How is a digital marketing specialist helping organisations complement their business strategies with digital marketing techniques since 2006. Currently working in Philips Lighting as Senior Digital Marketing Manager (ASEAN Pacific), Christopher manages the end to end digital marketing from generating leads to converting them into contacts for the sales team. He is also involved in proposing and implementing digital marketing solutions that improve marketing efforts and processes for businesses.

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