Race tests managers’ skills

A management college is using boat crews in the world’s toughest yacht race to research senior management skills.

Researchers will look at the key factors marking exceptional performance of teams and leaders in the BT Global Challenge 2000-2001, which started on 10 September.

Data on personality, personal competencies, emotional intelligence, motivation and team dynamics has been collected from skippers and crew since January, when they started to prepare for the race.

British Airways, Microsoft and the Rank Group are among the 16 major organisations that will gain unique insights into developing high performance teams.

The joint project, the Inspirational Intelligence Research Forum, has been developed by Henley Management College and development consultancy Inspiring Performance, which is responsible for the selection and training of skippers.

Emotional intelligence experts Dr Malcolm Higgs and Professor Victor Dulewicz, of Henley College, will produce a report on their findings at the end of the race.

Higgs, a senior member of Henley College’s human resources and organisational behaviour faculty, said, “The project explores team working in extreme conditions. We will be measuring the emotional intelligence of skippers before and after the race to see how the experience has changed their abilities.”

John Renz, HR director at law firm CMS Cameron McKenna, said, “We are healthily cynical about putting employees in situations that are far removed from the work context. But emotional intelligence is high on our agenda – you could be the best lawyer in the world, but if you cannot relate to clients then you are not much use to us.”

By Richard Staines

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