Olympian Models Group Leadership

I’ve had fun watching the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China.  Although I’m new to the intricacies of most of the events, it’s very clear that each athlete brings a high level of skill, expertise and determination.  Each athlete passed the muster and is expertly qualified to be there. 

2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, ChinaI marveled at one particular Olympian, Dara Torres.  At age 41 she is the first woman to swim in the Olympics past the age of 40.  She even proved she is great model of group leadership through one small act of kindness and grace.

The 50 meter race was about to begin and the racers were on the platform preparing to begin.  One of the swimmers had a tear in her suit at the last minute.  As a result, this competitor was forced to change suits, causing a delay in her joining the others on the platform to begin the race.  Torres spoke to one of the referees and the race was delayed for a few seconds until the swimmer could join the group.

More than great sportsmanship, Dara Torres showed awesome leadership.  Showcasing strength and speed, she went on to  win the race and advanced to the finals.

What can we learn about group leadership from this scenario?

  1. Safeguard the concerns of your group members FIRST.   Happy learners are active learners who work for the whole group by creating a space of security and connectedness.
  2. Communicate your concerns effectively and everyone wins.  When you share concerns to the right people using productive and proactive language, the entire group benefits from the learning.
  3. Exercise focus so the strength of leadership always prevails.  Each group has many leaders offering many opportunities to learn and grow together.

Dara Torres won a silver medal in the final 50 meter race.  Speed in tow and grace under pressure, her Olympic spirit served as a great model for group leadership. 

What’s your example of group leadership?


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2 Responses to “Olympian Models Group Leadership”

  1. Jim Turner Says:

    Hi Wendy,
    This is a great example of group leadership demonstrated by Dara. Many times as the leader of the group or even as a member of the group you can distinguish yourself by helping and looking out for the needs of others.

    I recently had to take a pause in my business ventures to help out a friend who was in need of financial assistance to help get proper medical help for her daughter. As a result of taking that leadership step, business continues to come my way.

    The key learning – when you do the right thing as a leader, such as sacrificing self for the group members, you still get rewarded.

    Thanks Wendy.

  2. Carol Dickson-Carr Says:

    I admittedly did not watch the Olympics to see Dara in action, but read about it online (Twitter first–no big surprise) and was impressed by what people were saying–inspired too, since Dara & I are the same age.

    And Jim, that was a great thing you did for our mutual friend/colleague–you got Wendy and me involved and it created win-wins all around.

    You asked, “What’s your example of group leadership?” One thing that recently comes to mind is stepping in as a conflict resolution facilitator (not my “official role”) at a meeting when philosophical differences were starting to be expressed a little more heatedly.

    Being able to think on your feet and channeling your strengths to problem solve can really come in handy in those times!


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