Time to Vote: Building Canada’s High Performance Dressage Team

For those of you living in Canada you may be aware that we are in the process of choosing our next High Performance Committee Chair. This is an important vote for members as our senior athletes are relying on us to make the right decision. Dressage is changing and rapidly, the British have cemented the idea that scores are increasing. Getting a 66% is no longer competitive on the international level – just last recently at the 2013 European Dressage Championships Charlotte and Valegro scored 85.94% in the Grand Prix, 85.699% in the Grand Prix Special and a jaw dropping 91.25% in the Freestyle. The question is how do we catch up and stay competitive? Well I believe we need to start at the top – the Chair of High Performance.

I have been the past interim Chair of the Youth High Performance Committee, have a Master in International Business (Queen’s University) and have worked at two large organizations that lead in their industries. Based on this I wanted to share my two cents on what leading a High Performance Team means.

Leading a High Performance Team is very different from leading a regular team.  By definition a high performance team is a group of individuals who work together towards a common goal and consistently show high levels of innovation and collaboration that produces superior results.

Key words are collaboration, innovation and superior results.

You may be saying, this is all great but what kind of leader is needed? Some of the key characteristics are:

Builds Credibility through Trust: If team members don’t trust their leader they tend to withhold ideas, information and become less engaged. The right leader will build his/her credibility by gaining team members trust.

Effective Communicator: Communication is key to developing a “team” atmosphere and the right leader will encourage the 3 E’s suggested by the Harvard Business Review:

  • energy – a high energy team is enthusiastic about working together and with their leader
  • engagement – engaged team members contribute to team issues
  • exploration – engage with other relevant groups and brings their findings to the group

Commitment to continuous improvement: There is always room for improvement and so the right leader will never be completely satisfied with the current results. This isn’t kindergarten anymore, not everyone gets a star.

Innovator: A high performance leader is innovative in many ways – how they approach team conflicts, resolve issues, engage team members, help riders get the right horses and the list goes on. Being creative gives the team an edge on their competitors as being creative is unpredictable and resourceful.

Big-picture thinker: There are operational thinkers and big-picture thinkers. The operational thinker focuses on improvement through excellence in the daily operations.  The big-picture thinker focuses on improvement through an organization’s strategy and future direction. Organizations need both otherwise you can end up with a hospital that meets wait times but can’t treat new diseases because they didn’t see them coming. However high performance teams are best led by the big-picture thinker who drives towards being the best in the future.

I hope you vote because this vote will help shape dressage in Canada and if it doesn’t, we chose the wrong leader.

Find information on the candidates and voting at the Dressage Canada website and vote until October 25, 2013.

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