- Leadership Institute
- Oct 4, 2016
About the Authors: Imran Gulam, Kate Hall and Yixin Zhu are current students in the HBA Program at Ivey Business School. They shared their reflections on Yvonne Camus’s address, “Eco-Challenge is the Ultimate in Teamwork.”
Not once in 12 years did a US Navy Seal team complete the Eco-Challenge; the world adventure championship, and yet a rookie Canadian team defined the ‘0% probability’ assigned to them to complete the course. Yvonne Camus’s presentation for the HBA class was something none of us would have expected, her story was nothing short of incredible. Moreover, the team and leadership lessons and guidance that transpired from her experiences are applicable in most other aspects life. Primarily, the key insights on team effectiveness and cohesion provided important takeaways that we can use not only during our HBA, but in many years to follow.
The overarching theme of Camus’ inspirational talk was how our psyche affects our outcomes, and how we can use a combination of enthusiasm, resilience, and effort to reach our goals and perform excellently individually and as a team. One of her most memorable claims was that “enthusiasm is a renewable resource”. She elaborated that in organizations, the people who are high performers are those who maintain high levels of enthusiasm every single day. The other important factor in organizations’ high performers is that they “practice with the intention of improving”. At a time in the year when many HBA1 students may be feeling discouraged under heavy workloads and the beginning of evaluations on the horizon, Camus reminded us that the only way to see things you have never seen before is to go into an environment you have never been in before. As business students, we can dare to have experiences and ultimately, results that we never dreamed possible, if we accept the challenges that face us and actively put effort and enthusiasm towards them.
Camus‘s team decided to go into the race not wondering “if” something would go wrong, but rather when. Disagreement, Camus says, indicates a suggestion to do something differently rather than an insult. When teams approach it this way, we can make a decision quicker and once the decision is made, work collectively towards it. If something did go wrong on Camus’ team, their motto was to “accelerate through the wreckage”. We can take this advice as business students and future business leaders, not to aim towards the goal of producing wreckage, but to acknowledge that making mistakes is a constant risk in any pursuit that is worthwhile, and that success is found when we accept this and keep trying anyway. When we accept that we will all make mistakes independently and as teams, we have greater compassion for ourselves and those around us. And when we continually envision our success and maintain our commitment to effort, we are able to succeed in the face of adversity – just like the rookie team from Canada."
Overall, the presentation had many key points on effective teamwork and personal leadership. Although the team was part of an adventure race, their strategies and mentalities are applicable to efficient teamwork in a broader sense. Motivation, grit, perseverance and smarts were key factors that contributed to successful performance. The team was considered a rookie team, and yet they raced with the mentality of a championship winning side. The point that enthusiasm is a renewable resource that teams can feed on to foster success, is something all teams need to draw upon especially in times of hardship and struggle. Yvonne’s closing slide read, “Endeavour to live the life you could only imagine and success will come in uncommon places”. A fitting close to an insightful and inspiring address.