As I mature as a leader and as our practice matures, I have discovered our superpower is alignment; rowing together in the same direction. To obtain optimal sustained speed as a team, several components need to be in play. A scull team is a great metaphor for a team that is rowing in alignment and propelling your practice forward.            

A scull that is well designed glides through the water with maximum efficiency and is strong enough to withstand rough waters. It is ergonomically and biomechanically designed to allow the rower to transfer power from his muscles and joints to the oars with maximum efficiency, which translates into speed.  

The boat and oars represent our facility, its ideal layout, and its equipment, and tools. The team of rowers represent our team’s clinical, business and support staff – who are disciplined and optimally conditioned. The muscles and joints of each team member are flexible and strong, with strong hearts and cardiovascular systems allowing for optimal endurance. In the boat, each rower is positioned in the optimal seat for their skill set and physical build. 

The Leader is called the Cox. You are the Cox. You are the Voice of your team. You set the course and make sure the team is heading in the right direction. Besides steering, the cox is also the voice in the boat, coaxing, motivating, and calming an eight-man engine.

As the cox faces forwards, in a conventional boat.  The rowers face YOU and respond to your voice, your commands. There must by high trust between the individual team members – trust in each other’s conditioning, technique, role, and motive.           

Developing a championship team is an organic process that requires time, discipline, and the rituals of training and humility.   

As the Cox you must understand your team; their strengths and weaknesses. You must bring out the best in each team member physically and mentally. Then you must position them in the seat that will allow them to contribute in the most optimal way to the team.   

The larger our team gets, and the more impact we have, the more time I need to be still to assess, and to clearly define our vision to our team. I need to listen, to consider, and to have an abundance mindset – a winning mindset. 

I find I am continually trying to pick up the position of my former self; trying to keep on “doing,” in the seat as a rower. When I do this, the team is not in alignment. We are not in the right seats. We head the wrong direction.  

I know that the cox is the best seat for me; observing, listening, affirming, and clearly communicating that we are headed in the right direction to WIN. I spend 80 percent of my time in the following four areas; adjusting, communicating, affirming, and measuring: 

  • Our mission and values (why and how)
  • Our vision (where are you going? what does it look like?)
  • Our Rhythms (habits as an organization, weekly stand up meeting, quarterly strategy sessions, annual leadership meeting)
  • Our Progress (metrics showing you are making objective transformational progress)

 As your team is rowing together in the same direction as efficiently as possible, amazing results happen. Remember progress over perfection is always the goal as the Cox of your team!



Grateful to be on this journey with you,

Dr. Matthew Harkness

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