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HBA Candour Conference: Yvonne Camus and high-performing teams

  • Communications
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  • Jan 23, 2015
HBA Candour Conference: Yvonne Camus and high-performing teams

Mark Messier of NHL fame and Yvonne Camus (shown above) of Canada's Eco-Challenge team spoke to HBA students as part of Ivey’s Leadership Character and Candour Conference.

Nine days, 22 hours to trek 500 km through the jungles of Borneo to the finish line, complete with a broken wrist, sore feet, huge bugs and extreme danger.

That’s what Yvonne Camus faced as the female member of Canada’s four-person team in the Eco-Challenge, the first-ever rookie team to complete the world championship of adventure racing conceived by Mark Burnett of Survivor fame. Camus endured extraordinary physical hardships and out of her experiences in the jungle developed a series of lessons for high-performing teams she shared with students at the HBA1 Leadership Character and Candour Conference on January 21. 

The day-long event also included a presentation by NHL legend Mark Messier and two hands-on workshops where students gained practical experience in developing character and candour in their lives.  

“She put an interesting spin on applying her experience to business,” said Katrina Kernaghan. “What stood out for me was the idea of talking yourself through the entire process in a taxing environment.”

Matthew Clarfield said her experience was very relatable to business. “At each check point, Yvonne had to adapt to different situations, and make decisions immediately.”

Know what you have to give. Ask for what you need.

For Yvonne’s team it was the ability to know and understand where they could help each other the most. In fact, it was found that the successful teams in the race were made up of people who could lead, but didn’t have to lead. They had a great understanding of when to lead and when to follow. That understanding was what contributed to their success.

“One of the things our team had that was so valuable was the concept of giving what you have and asking for what you need. That ability to be honest with each other, to see yourself in the right perspective, to know and understand what it is you’re contributing. That was critical. ”

Surround yourself with incredible people.

Yvonne’s team prepared for when not if things were going to go wrong. Her team agreed that criticism was “just a bad way of making a suggestion.”

“Candour gives you the ability to know and understand the impact of your honesty. What we discovered was the ability to communicate your disagreement with an idea, versus communicating dislike of a person. One of the most challenging things in this race is getting the energy and contribution of your teammates when you’re not in agreement. I can tell you, it continues on in business,” said the former Heinz executive.

You need ravings fans.

Look for those times when you were performing at a high level, and surround yourself with those people who supported you. Yvonne’s team was boosted by more than 300 emails from family, colleagues and friends that motivated them through the hard times.

“It was a massive discovery for me, because that level of candour (displayed in these emails) is what can produce incredible accomplishments.”

Accelerate through the wreckage.

You trip over pebbles not mountains. “Keep track in your own mind of who you are when you’re at your best and when you get off track – and every team in this race did, and everybody in life does – those who have been successful can nudge themselves back on track.”