What Would Lance Armstrong Do?, Part 2

Last Updated Aug 27, 2007 9:57 AM EDT

Here are more ways that the Tour de France's first-rate teams exemplify collaboration.

Sending Riders Back for Stragglers -- Riders wear earpieces so if one of their teammates falls behind, the manager can alert them and have the stronger rider drop back to pace their teammate back into the pack.

Business Behavior: If someone is struggling to keep up with their work, why not send an efficient colleague to help them get back up to speed? Or offer to help out yourself. Not only will it ensure that the team won't fall too far behind, it will give the workers the sense that you are looking out for them.

Give The Very Tire Off Your Bike -- There is hardly a more selfless display of teamwork than when a team leader gets a flat at a critical stage in the race. They almost always have domestiques nearby, who won't hesitate to take off one of theirs and send their leader off -- staying behind themselves for the team car to deliver a replacement.

Business Behavior: Taking a hit for the good of the team is usually something a manager will "ask" an underling to do. Not that he had much choice, but we felt for Fred Reid, former CEO of Virgin America, who, nearing the launch of the new low-cost airline, was forced to resign among concerns that he was too closely tied with Virgin founder and foreign citizen Richard Branson, apparently a no-no for U.S. airline regulators.

Know your Task, But Keep Flexible --Riders begin the Tour with a solid idea of where they fit in on the team. There is the sprint leader, the lead-out man, the climber, the general classification rider, the team leader and the domestique, all of whom have a good idea of what their job entails. But there is enough flex built into the system that if someone emerges as a better candidate for team leader, the roles can shift. This year, some good days in the Alps brought Spanish rider Alberto Contador the leadership role on his squad as he led the race in overall time. Former team leader Levi Leipheimer switched to a support role without an argument.

Business Behavior: An effective team should be limber enough to take full advantage of the ever-changing energy and skills of its members. Obviously, you can't go around demoting people at the drop of a hat, but allowing people to cross task boundaries and showcase skills that perhaps they weren't hired for will give your team not only flexibility, but investment in the task. Because, moreso than money, development drives the majority of your workers. Really.

Reward Behaviors, Not Just Numbers
Although the overall individual and team titles are the ultimate goals for most teams, the premium isn't placed solely on time. Domestiques get plaudits for countering other teams moves, keeping track of breakaways, helping teammates rejoin the pack (called the peloton) after a crash, pushing the pace of the rest of the field for a few miles, even just getting out in front and putting the sponsor's name (that adorns the front of the rider's jersey) on the TV camera for a few minutes.

Business Behavior: Sometimes we get too caught up in one type of goal, whether it's the quarterly profit, the revenues or units sold. People's contributions don't always directly translate to sales. Looking deeper for behaviors to reward shows that you appreciate people's individual strengths and that you are paying closer attention than just reading the earnings summary every 3 months.