And we all got on our bikes

The last time I blogged I was about to embark on a 102-mile charity cycle ride. That was in July and I promise it’s not taken me that long to complete the course – I may not be Chris Hoy but I’m not that slow!

But I was a bit slower than I might have been and that was partly due to the range of personalities taking part.

Don’t get me wrong we had a wonderful time. We all enjoyed each other’s company as we peddled coast-to-coast from Ilfracombe to Plymouth. In fact, the differing personalities only enhanced my enjoyment. One lady had bad knees so  couldn’t cycle uphill. The first time this happened one guy on the team, Richard,  immediately offered to walk with her – then it dawned on me neither of them had a mobile phone so I offered to walk too.  One of the other riders had recently fallen off her bike during training and no longer felt safe cycling down hill... You guessed it – in a flash Richard offered to walk with her and yes so did I... The strange thing was on the flat – these two ladies just took off and left me and Richard behind..! The rest of the team seemed oblivious to the need to stick together or in any way protect the slower members.  

Soon a very amusing scenario arose. Our self-appointed leader (well, he had the map and a gps) carefully planned our journey each night. Which in fairness he did talk about at breakfast every morning... However once on his bike he would set off at full pelt for fear of being out-ridden by a rather younger man who was also taking part. This left the rest of us all map-less with the result that, on one occasion, we found ourselves on an unnecessary three-mile diversion down a very steep hill. Despite asking our esteemed leader to wait at any junction until everyone else had caught up most days 11 of the team would get a bit lost and as I said, the journey ended up taking longer – and actually cycling 13 miles further – than we should have done, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

I love people watching and this ride gave me ample opportunity to do so. While we all had at least one thing in common – cycling for charity – we were all very different people with different abilities. Together our motley crew got to the end and we raised a great amount for Swindon Foodbank. I was reminded, once again, that whatever you do you in life – whether socially or in business - you need a blend of talents to make the best team and you need both leaders and people who are happy to be lead.

For years in training programmes and consulting projects I've said things like – genuine teamwork required leaders and followers and the only difference between a leader and anyone else is that they have followers. If you think you are leading – just look behind you every now and then – because if no one is following you are just out for a nice walk, or cycle ride, on your own...

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