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Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Peter Messana's headshoot
By Peter Messana - CEO

A couple weeks ago I blogged about why great leaders matter, and while writing it I was reminded of a great analogy someone once told me that I thought I would share. It goes nicely with last week’s blog post about ‘why,’ and how engaging teams makes the difference.

When you are building a company, you can think of it as a rowboat. There is only so much space at the rail for people to row and only so many seats. In order to get to where you want to go, someone first must give you direction, this should come from the CEO who merely points to where we want to get to. 

Then the rowers take over. If your company is set up correctly, all the rowers are on the rail. Now there is only so much space on the rail so others are merely along for the ride, they may do other tasks to help the team, maybe they cook the meals or replenish the water. There is no issue with having them along for the ride, you can only have so many leaders.

However, what you cannot afford are those in the back of the boat punching holes. They are not helping you get to where you want to go and are slowing you down. Those sitting in the boat know exactly who they are, it isn’t a big secret. Good leaders need to remove these from the boat as soon as possible, the risk of sinking is all too real.

The second concept of the rowboat is that of the number of people on the rail I mentioned. Since there is a fixed amount of people, the only way to have more leaders is to get a bigger boat and the only way to get a bigger boat is for the company to grow, thus affording the passengers that wish to be leaders the opportunity to do so. Meaning, the more the company grows the more opportunities there will be for more leaders, and the larger the boat the faster it can move.

The trick with this analogy is that forming a team is difficult.

Imagine if everyone wanted to be at the rail. Or worse, if no one knew which direction the boat was going. Or doubly worse, you had so many hole punchers that the boat sunk.

Simple lesson, build the right sized team that has great leaders and great individual contributors, set a direction, and watch it all happen.