Spurring fresh ideas

Why Walk & Talk provides room for new thoughts not only during a pandemic

What a year was that which we have left behind us! And what a year will be this budding 2021? How will things go on? Anyway, I wish you a safe, happy, and successful new year – and I would like to start this new year with a fresh idea.

Those who move develop new ideas and insights literally step by step. They strengthen the cardiovascular system and, thus, also the mind. As the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche stated in 1889: “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”

This is confirmed by scientists of Stanford University who found out that movement improves the ability for what is called “divergent thinking”. This includes both quantitative and qualitative innovative thinking, which gives us unusual, even crazy ideas. Movement clearly boosts creativity. (Oppezzo, M. & Schwartz, D.L., 2014, Stanford University)

Another advantage of thinking while walking is the change of perspective that comes about automatically, step by step. Those who look at a problem from a different angle find new solutions and understand their counterparts better.

Step by step towards more creativity

This is why I like to use the concept of Walk & Talk in coaching. For Walk & Talk triggers creative processes that lead to new ideas. Scientists have proven that looking at things from unusual angles and new perspectives enhances a person’s mental flexibility. As research shows, people who had been walking tended to be much more creative than those who had been sitting.

Physical activities influence our perception. When walking, time and space disappear and we can let go of whatever is otherwise blocking us, make room for new thoughts, and release fresh energy.

In a nutshell, walking is a strategy easy to implement to generate unusual and novel ideas. A noteworthy side effect: in times of pandemic, there is probably no better Covid-19-compliant opportunity for coaching or staff talks than walking in the fresh air. It is, thus, the perfect time to take advantage of Walk & Talk! Give it a try – I’ll be happy to support you!

 

Source: Oppezzo, M. & Schwartz, D.L., Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking, Stanford University, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 2014, Vol. 40, No. 4, 1142–1152

Photo: ©Marion Pohl in Sumatra

Leadership 4.0 is not for beginners

Keeping up trust, promoting team building, rewarding success – how can that be done in a virtual environment?

In my blog series “Virtual leadership”, I discuss various aspects of collaborating at a distance. One of the things that inspired this blog series is my work as a lecturer at the FOM University of Applied Sciences for Economics and Management. Another factor is, of course, Corona: the crisis helped to render virtual leadership a prominent topic. Whatever the effects of the pandemic all over the globe, it also contributed to lasting changes in the world of work.

What is surprising, here, is the wide range of challenges and opportunities: from loss of information to more competencies for employees. In conversations with my clients, I was able to better understand the most important changes and to spread their practical tips via my “virtual leadership” blog series – whether they related to meeting structures or included software recommendations. How, then, can leaders be prepared for this changed world of work?

 

Out of sight, out of mind?

Keeping in touch without having personal contact is a balancing act. Training courses for leaders should, thus, focus very much on human interaction. How can you establish and cultivate the commitment of employees and a strong relationship with them? My clients recommend something rather straightforward: arrange a personal audio or video call once every other week or, better still, once every week, even if there are no immediate tasks that need to be discussed. These calls may also deal with private matters.

“I have a mixed team consisting of younger colleagues and older, more experienced colleagues. The younger ones require more guidance, the older ones have weathered quite a few crises. I spend more time on each employee than before. Regularly calling the team once every other week means talking for half an hour to each of the 28 team members. However, there was hardly a chance to discuss long-term development goals, because the period during and after corona is also about a struggle for survival. One employee, for example, was working short-time with his hours reduced by 100 per cent. He was feeling anxious and feared being made redundant. These topics and emotions now need to get special attention. Another challenge is to talk to the lone wolfs: picking them up from where they are, staying in contact with them, and also leaving room to discuss private things.”

(BW, a regional manager for a consulting team in the IT industry)

 

Such talks, which are potentially fraught with tensions, require tact and sensitivity – particularly, if there are no non-verbal signs to interpret, as is the case, for instance, on the phone. In video calls, by contrast, the participants can better read non-verbal signs and respond to them.

“Leaders should try to adapt their leadership style to the actual situation and to respond to the different personalities of their employees. I endeavour to interact with my employees on an equal footing and avoid words and phrases that signify a manager-employee relationship. I find that changing the perspective is very useful for me to empathise with my employees. One aspect, here, is discussing topics that we have in common, for example, talking about family or personal matters such as child care. It is important to leave room for topics that individual employees are really concerned about, that are on their mind. The communication may well be casual, leaving out the hard-and-fast facts.”

(BW, a regional manager for a consulting team in the IT industry)

 

And how to communicate successfully in a large group? Digital conferences can be tricky. This is a truism, as everybody will know who participated in such a conference in the last few months.

“Virtual meetings are much more demanding than analogue meetings, requiring more discipline from everybody. Simple rules help to provide structure: hearing the other out, talking not too long, keeping to the point, etc. I also think that limiting the number of participants is important and useful. Who is really relevant to the topic of the meeting? It certainly makes sense for one person in the team to facilitate the meeting – and that should not be the leader.”

(BW, a regional manager for a consulting team in the IT industry)

 

“Here’s pot luck for you, kid”:  virtual team development – a different way of cooking together

So much for the tips regarding communication by audio or video call. What is, and remains, a challenge, though, is achieving proximity from a distance. I have had good experience with team-building events. These need not be extravagant at all; cooking together, for example, is always extremely rewarding. While the colleague from HR chops the coriander and the member of the creative team uncorks the cooking wine, private matters can be discussed much more easily. But can that also be done in a virtual environment? Of course, it can! In fact, it is easy to implement. I got my inspiration from COOKZU, a streaming show to watch and cook, organised by the manager of the eat!berlin festival, Bernhard Moser, and Daniel Finger, presenter at radioeins. (The name of the show, “cookzu”, sounds like the German word for the imperative “watch!”.) They talk so casually about chicken in Traminer wine and monkfish saltimbocca – you could do that together with your colleagues.

 

“Write it down!” – communicating in writing

Especially in times when people work from home and collaborate at a distance, written communication is gaining in importance. What is crucial in this context is writing clearly and to the point. This is why I recommend to leaders that they strengthen their ability to communicate in writing. It is often the little things that determine the success of a project text, a cover letter or even the fastest written form of communication, an e-mail. For feedback on texts, I personally prefer to rely on the expertise of my trusted copywriter, Natalie Fingerhut. Here I also get tips and tricks in between about how to communicate successfully.

 

 “We managed this as a team!” – speaking about success

 In the past, anyone whose sales pitch at the customer’s premises was successful might have gone to the restaurant around the corner to drink a toast. Yet, what if the pitch has taken place digitally and afterwards everybody pulls out of the MS Teams meeting? Well, clearly, then you need an extra virtual meeting to celebrate. Even if you are not toasting with mojito, here, it is important to commemorate achievements, because they weld people together. This (virtual) room for feedback from both sides is highly relevant also if things didn’t run one hundred per cent smoothly. Where else can the competencies of the individual team members become evident?

Make your team even stronger by focusing on what you have achieved together – because that does not only make your employees happy!

You would like to learn more about virtual leadership? Please, read also the first four articles of my blog series on the topic: “Home office to home office – virtual leadership – a challenge offering opportunities”, “You want to have more competence? Here you go! Virtual leadership in enterprise 2.0”, “Is this New Work? How virtual work becomes a reality as the result of a crisis“, and “About video conferencing, chats, etc.: software solutions in practice”.  I hope, you will enjoy yourself and get some interesting ideas as you explore the material.

 Have you become curious? Or do you need support in coaching, in change processes or in team development? Please, send a message.

 

About video conferencing, chats, etc.

Virtual leadership – software solutions in practice

Virtual leadership – how does it work? What tools can people use to stay in touch when physical contact is prohibited? How can they best collaborate at a distance? As an executive coach, I give advice to leaders from the most different industries. I talked to some of them about what forms of team work they preferred during the corona lockdown. In part 4 of the “virtual leadership” blog series, I am now going to present a selection of tips that some leaders offer concerning the most efficient groupware solutions.

Nice to see you: video conferencing

Nowadays, video conferencing replaces the meeting. In this way, people can get together at least virtually. Yet what tools are actually available and what experiences have people made using them? My clients and I used Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Go ToMeeting, Slag, and, of course, Zoom. All applications offer participants the opportunity to communicate via a chat function during the conference.

Google Meet was praised because the tool provides a quick and easy-to-use possibility of video-conferencing – whether just for an employee and their manager, for a small team or for large groups of up to 250 people. Users of Microsoft Teams can see nine participants at the same time when using the conference function. However, this rendered non-verbal communication more difficult because, in general, the images were found to be rather small. Still, the application worked well in international communication: it was used to talk to external partner companies in Asia.

GoToMeeting was mentioned as a second option when it comes to holding formal conferences. The tool also shows several speakers at the same time. The paid version allows up to 250 participants. All of the above video-conferencing solutions require a meeting to be scheduled in advance, with the participants joining in when the meeting has started.

Zoom is yet another software solution that supports high-resolution video-conferencing. It was generally the tool of choice for me as it can also be used for virtual team work or online training courses.  The monthly fee depends on the number of participants (up to 200), a free version allows 40-minute conferences. The decisive advantage for me was that Zoom has what they call a “breakout room”. This is a separate virtual room to which participants can withdraw to discuss things in smaller groups. In this way, some issues can be clarified more efficiently.

One of the leaders I interviewed said that her favourite tool for internal communication was Slag. It offers very direct communication, showing only the speaker. The interviewee found it to be fast and easy to use: there is no need to arrange a meeting in advance as you can call your colleagues spontaneously. This is definitely an advantage when an issue needs to be resolved quickly in a face-to-face conversation.

 

Show me your results: shared documents

Particularly in the first weeks of the lockdown, many of my clients said they had been bombarded with information on all channels – by e-mail, chat, phone, video, SMS, and mobile phone. Soon it was obvious that tools would be needed to discuss documents more efficiently or to work on presentations together etc.

“We quickly tried to structure our work using platforms such as Sharepoint, One Drive, and other agile methods. With these, you cannot only send documents but also store and organise them.” (AH, a manager working in logistics)

“Last year, we completely switched to GSuite: the communicating and collaborating applications are extremely useful. Google Meet, in particular, enables quick and easy-to-use video-conferencing. Uploading files on GDrive allows for collaborative and even simultaneous editing of documents, which supports virtual project work. We have also held workshops using virtual whiteboards with Microsoft Sticky Notes to do virtual brainstorming.” (VF, an HR manager in the aviation industry)

 

We’ll go through with it: tools for project management

While Sticky Notes work like digital Post-it notes, which allow you to take notes directly on your desktop at any time, virtual whiteboards, for example in Microsoft Teams, are a great way to capture, sort and structure shared thoughts. Unlike in a physical meeting for a brainstorming session, here, everyone contributes – and no one has to be the secretary at the flip chart. Another good option to do this is Trello:

“We enjoyed using Trello to get structured. Projects can be divided into individual steps, so-called Trello Cards, and you can always see what has already been done and what still needs to be done. Comments, attachments, due dates and much more can be attached directly to the cards.” (JF, a manager of an import and trading company)

 

We are agile: the virtual collaboration of tomorrow

The list is far from complete – and yet the large number of solutions mentioned in this article shows that the tech world has long been ready for agile work. Some software options were already in use before corona, but the emergency situation of the pandemic forced many of us to deal with such tools more closely. All interviewees stated that they would like to use more of it in the future and to try out new things from time to time. Well, then: let’s embrace an agile working life!

 

In the course of my work as a lecturer at the FOM University of Applied Sciences for Economics and Management, I intensively dealt with virtual leadership. As an executive coach, I also experience the practical day-to-day work of leaders on a daily basis. Corona has confronted these leaders with completely new challenges. Digital work has suddenly become a reality. I talked to some of them about the current challenges and have summarised the results of these talks in this blog series.

In the next and final episode of my blog series on the topic of “virtual leadership”, I will be presenting in a nutshell the experiences and tips on the topic of “leading at a distance”.

Virtual leadership in practice – changes and challenges

Frithjof Bergmann, founder of the New Work movement, developed his theory of a new concept of work more than 40 years ago. Now, at almost 90 years of age, he is in demand as a speaker at conferences and in large agencies. The advent of digitalisation had rendered his idea of the personal freedom of employees relevant again, before a pandemic led to the partial implementation of New Work in the world of work. This may sound straightforward – but what are the challenges? I talked to leaders from different industries about this topic.

 

Info, please!

Here is a fundamental change: working from home is no longer confined to strategic activities; operating activities, too, have been transferred to the home office. If until recently the hours worked from home had been used mainly for activities requiring peace and concentration with colleagues or business partners (for example, drafting a document), suddenly, everything had to take place in domestic isolation – whether people liked it or not. Given this situation, how can you structure it?

Virtual meetings abounded almost everywhere. They took place every day and had titles ranging from “daily meeting” and “daily stand up” to “check-in”. People used video conferencing to bring themselves (and each other) up to date, present interim results, and occasionally discuss personal matters. The general impression was, while the number of meetings increased, their duration decreased.

“We raised the number of weekly video chat team meetings, because in the present critical business situation it is crucial to bring yourself up to date immediately.” (VF, an HR manager in the aviation industry)

What people couldn’t do any more and missed very much was having a quick chat in the kitchenette. Any information that, in this way, had reached the right addresses incidentally, often simply got lost. Informal formats – for example, the “virtual café” or the “coffee chat” – were supposed to solve the problem, as were voluntary formats such as the “virtual after-work meeting”, which included drinking wine or beer. In groupware like MS Teams, the chat function experienced a true revival, because it offered users a simple way to discuss and clarify issues quickly and efficiently.

 

And where do things get private?

What many employees missed in the corona crisis was private communication. Many leaders were aware of this dilemma and created informal formats that could be used on a voluntary basis. The “coffee chat” of a company in the aviation industry focused on the exchange of personal information.

“Our coffee chat is not about work. We exchange views about how we are coping with the corona situation, we laugh together, give each other tips what to cook at home, and so on.” (VF, an HR manager in the aviation industry)

Almost all leaders interviewed refer to a new dimension of private communication as childcare or the care of sick family members had suddenly become much more complicated, thereby exacerbating working conditions. In a nutshell: topics that used to be put on the table only occasionally now found ample room for discussion – and a sympathetic ear at management level.

“I’m trying to change my perspective, taking the point of view of my employees. I’m really missing non-verbal communication. To establish a rapport and keep it, I’m trying to find topics we have in common, such as childcare.” (BW, a regional manager for a consulting team in the IT industry)

In principle, all interviewees saw in the new situation a changed balance between presence and staying out, trust and follow-up. Having a telephone conversation with each employee at least once a week proved to be sufficiently frequent to continue the habit of picking them up personally in their environment.

“Leadership should be seen in a broader context. It is important to find a balance between work and the family, with children or parents to care for – and to talk about how you can take care of yourself, especially, at a time like this?” (AH, a manager working in logistics)

 

Well, is what we’re seeing today actually New Work?

The original idea of New Work, as Bergmann saw it 40 years ago, has then moved closer to us as a result of the crisis. The definition goes far beyond the hitherto popular focus on agile work and working from home, based as it is on a deeper understanding of leadership.

“I set great store by mediation. I perceive that my counterpart is a human being. I need to look at the situation holistically and have confidence.” (JF, a manager of an import and trading company)

Ultimately, all of the leaders interviewed saw the crisis as an opportunity for a new, more personal and conscious form of leadership – despite the challenges and difficulties it brought with it.

In the course of my work as a visiting lecturer at the FOM University of Applied Sciences for Economics and Management, I intensively dealt with virtual leadership. As an executive coach, I also experience the practical day-to-day work of leaders on a daily basis, discussing questions of attitude, communication, techniques, and processes. Corona has confronted these leaders with completely new challenges. Digital work has suddenly become a reality. I talked to some of you about the current challenges and have summarised the results of these talks in this blog post.

 In the next episode of my blog series on the topic of “virtual leadership” I will be giving software tips – all of them tried and tested in practice by my interview partners.

 

 

 

You want to have more competence? Here you go! Virtual leadership in enterprise 2.0

The concept of open leadership is based on mutual trust. This requires leaders to show a high degree of openness in dialogue and relationship management. Employees may – and should – take on control tasks, work and make decisions as independently as possible. The technical term for this leadership concept, which emerged in 2010, boils down to four letters: HERO is short for “Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives”. The concept is designed to give employees who can work independently and have the corresponding skills new control and co-ordination tasks.

In a nutshell: while, in the past, the focus was on designing deliberately how tasks should be completed, the advent of web 2.0 has rendered an unplanned and autonomous development possible, improving the ability of teams to control themselves.

 

Leadership based on trust

Virtual leadership, then, has a lot to do with letting go. In this context, mutual trust is indispensable. Leading with attitude – even over a digital distance – is, here, the means of choice. Yet, how can you enable and support this approach under virtual conditions, given the spacial and temporal distance between you and the people involved, which complicates the process considerably?  The keywords are: good communication, empathy, and understanding. There is a convenient toolbox that you can use in practice to strengthen these three factors.

 

Off onto the playing field – we are becoming a virtual team

Kick-off meetings also work in a virtual space. Clarifying goals and expectations together strengthens team development. Later on, regular (virtual) meetings can help to keep the team abreast of any progress and ideas. So-called “check-ins” serve to bring all team members up to date and to efficiently allocate tasks and responsibilities. In times of crisis such as these, when all employees work from home, a morning check-in with everybody can be a good start into the day. By the way: science has shown that there is a connection between frequent interaction and the performance of employees.

 

The coach inside you

It is clear that leadership in a virtual context is more than just allocating tasks. Communicative skills such as listening become increasingly important to probe and understand the points of view of the team members. Monitoring work progress from a distance is a skill that requires a considerate mind. For leaving your employees sufficient freedom can be difficult – especially, as regards their work-life balance. With enterprise 2.0, leaders gradually develop into mentors and coaches.

 

Skype, Zoom, e-mail or phone?

Of course, there is nothing better than a face-to-face conversation. However, if this is not an option due to corona, what can you do? A quick phone call or a short e-mail may suffice to discuss straightforward arrangements. Yet, what about conducting a sensitive appraisal interview or discussing a complex new task? Here, non-verbal communication is an essential ingredient in the conversation. In the current situation, then, holding a video conference is, indeed, always an adequate solution.

 

Practical tips as to how you, as a leader, can brace yourself for the challenges of the virtual world of work will be provided next week in part three  of my “virtual leadership” blog series.

 

Literature:

When preparing for my first online lecture on virtual leadership at FOM University of Applied Sciences  for Economy & Management (which forms the basis for this blog series), I got interesting insights from the following authors:

Peter M. Wald, Lang, R., Rybnikova, I. (2014): Aktuelle Führungstheorien und -konzepte, Wiesbaden

Buhse, W. (2014). Management by Internet. Kulmbach: Plassen

 

Home office to home office

Virtual leadership – a challenge offering opportunities

The concept of virtual leadership is not an invention of the Corona pandemic. In the early 1990s, scientific papers discussed the “virtual enterprise”, and “e-leadership” emerged as a new concept in 2000. With the current situation, however, “digital leadership” has suddenly been pulled out of its niche existence, becoming a global reality. Yet, what exactly does that mean?

First of all, this development concerns the way in which we pass on information. What used to be communicated in meetings or during chats in the kitchenette now has to reach the employees in a different way. Online forums or specialised software facilitate the provision and exchange of contents. As a result, employees have more comprehensive access to information and benefit from greater transparency.

The advantages are obvious: leaders can communicate faster and, thus, improve the performance of their organisations. This, however, puts them under enormous pressure to communicate clearly and directly. Inundated with e-mails, some leaders may be inclined to be less careful in stressful situations.

 

Information for everybody

A different access to information also implies a change in the way this information can be controlled. When and how information becomes available, is published, and finally accessed can no longer be fully controlled by the company and its leaders.  Rather, it depends to some extent on the initiative of the employees when and how facts – and also opinions and assessments – are spread on the Internet or intranet. This possible loss of control is the starting point for the concept of open leadership, for enterprise 2.0. The result is a new ratio between openness and control.

 

So close and yet so far away

The next, and biggest, challenge emerging from open leadership will probably be interpersonal relationships: the distance between leaders and employees is not just a spacial distance – it also extends to social and cultural aspects. Thus, to establish a personal relationship on an equal footing becomes even more challenging. How can this difficulty be resolved? A Zoom conference is simply not a meeting or a face-to-face conversation. Consequently, leaders are far more often confronted with being in demand as relationship managers.

What skills do they need as relationship managers? In addition to being able to use electronic media, leaders need to be good at communicating in person and showing an understanding of mistakes. They should have a considerable amount of social and intercultural competence to be able to accept the power shift brought about by open leadership, to overcome the distance and systematically build trust. Leaders who manage to get their employees on board even in such a difficult situation come close to a participatory leadership style.

In times like these, there are a good many creative solutions available for adopting team-strengthening measures at a distance. One of my favourites is cooking together. By way of example, take a look at Daniel Finger’s live cooking events at https://cookzu.de/. (The name of the show, “cookzu”, sounds like the German word for the imperative “watch!”.)

Next week, in the second part of my “virtual leadership” blog series, you will read how the digital options we have further change the relationship between leaders and their employees.

 

Literature:

When preparing for my first online lecture on virtual leadership at FOM University of Applied Sciences for Economy & Management (which forms the basis for this blog series), I got interesting insights from the following authors:

Peter M. Wald, Lang, R., Rybnikova, I. (2014): Aktuelle Führungstheorien und -konzepte, Wiesbaden

Buhse, W. (2014). Management by Internet. Kulmbach: Plassen

Foto: ©Frank Petzke – Grönland

The power of change: how to turn crises into opportunities

 Some changes come so unexpectedly that they cause reactions similar to those that occur after a severe shock. Yet, after a time of paralysis, anger or grief, they can trigger processes never conceived before.

Creating a positive future

These are crazy times, many say. Others would call them stultifying. And still others are already looking for ways to fill with meaning the slowdown that the coronavirus restrictions have brought about. The inventor and entrepreneur Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) once wrote: “When one door closes, another opens.” With this attitude, he succeeded in developing a commercially practical telephone.

Even though every crisis presents itself differently, it is evident that constructive people think outside the box in exceptional situations and develop particularly creative solutions. Some even tread new paths that are better than the old ones.

Making good use of the situation

Leaders participating in my coaching sessions often ask similar questions. Do I have to reposition myself? Are there alternatives to how we are currently working? Can we change the path we have chosen? How can products be repositioned? Times of crisis such as these often generate new business ideas. People make a virtue out of necessity, developing innovative concepts and trying them out.

However, it is not only with regard to products and structures that change can be seen as an opportunity. This very special time deserves to be put to good use. And so, many people discover further education. What training course or seminar might help me now? How can I prepare myself and my employees for the time after? How do I become the architect of my future and how do I benefit from this for the present?

Using dialogue to achieve a change of perspective

Such questions can be perfectly tackled and discussed in a coaching session. Engaging in a dialogue, we will question existing ways of thinking, change perspectives, create new visions, and develop ideas. I am happy to offer such dialogue and lateral thinking units also as online coaching sessions.

And how are you getting on with the current situation?

 

 

All in one boat: heading for new horizons as a well-oiled crew

Much more than a felicitous metaphor: looking at yachting can be an exciting source of inspiration for team development.

Cast off!

Wind-driven towards the horizon – sailing conveys a feeling of infinite freedom in harmony with the elements. At the same time, it can also be regarded as a wonderful metaphor of how we achieve our goals together. A crew that – hand in hand – navigates the boat through calm and troubled waters has a lot in common with a well-oiled team: both need to set, and hold on to, clear goals – agreeing unequivocally on how they will achieve them. Once the goal is set, the members need to coordinate their actions, listening to, and showing consideration for, one another: they need to be able to fully rely on each other.

All aboard!

Those who sail together show respect for each other, subdue their ego when appropriate, and make quick and accurate decisions even in stormy weather. The safety of the crew members always comes first. The situation is similar in a team that regards the intrinsic value of each individual member as essential to achieving common goals. A protected space like this provides room for ideas which may seem crazy at a first glance, but which later turn out to be just brilliant. The width of the horizon can be balanced out together. In business development, this is precisely how new ideas appear on the horizon.

Ready about? Ready!

Sailing together does not just mean making good use of existing skills, it also means embarking on something new. As they cruise the waters, each crew member develops and gets a chance to test their prowess. The skipper defines the tasks for each of them, all the time focusing on where they want to arrive. A leader building a team does something similar – and that makes sense. For it is only as a team that you can move boats, run projects or solve tasks.

Aye aye, captain!

When it comes to sailing, the ability to work in a team is most important. Here, nobody can just do their own thing without the boat listing. Showing respect for each other has to be a matter of course with people living together in such close quarters. This also means that – whatever the social position of a crew member on land – each and every one has to be able to obey without arguing or complaining, to ensure the safety of all.

And there is one last parallel: To sail together with others, you don’t need to have sailing experience as long as the skipper knows how to navigate and gives clear instructions. Everybody who is open-minded and willing to learn is welcome to the crew. For a team gains from talent that hails from the most different backgrounds. The technical term for this is “diversity”. He or she who fails to think of a well-versed cook in putting together the sailing crew forgets that only a well-fed team is a happy team.

And how do you put together your crew?