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As it turns out, cycling is beginning to take over North America as an extra-curricular athletic hobby. According to the National Sporting Goods Association the number of Americans who ride bicycles is greater than all those who ski, golf, and play tennis combined. According to Outdoor Foundation there were 1.2 billion cycling outings in America in 2011 second only to jogging and running. This got me thinking about one of my favourite personal passions (cycling) and our corporate organizations. Maybe if we were to act like a peloton in our organizations, we might see higher levels of employee engagement. peloton2What's a peloton? In cycling speak, it's what a pack of cyclists are called when they ride together. Check out the photo to the right for an example. A peloton is a massive group of riders who ultimately work together -- as a team -- to move from one distance to another. Take away competitive cycling competitions for a moment (eg. Giro d'Italia or Tour de France) and think about amateur cyclists going out for weekend rides or events like the GranFondo between Vancouver and Whistler. These women and men ride together as a team but what happens along the journey?
  • Sharing the load
    • Cyclists take turns at the front of the pack (ie. the peloton) to both set the pace and to protect others behind them from the wind. (A process known as drafting)
    • Those in front exert extra effort so others in the back can save some of their energy for their turn at the front at another interval in the ride
  • Proactive Communication
    • Often in a peloton, cyclists are proactively communicating with each other
    • If there is debris on the road, hand signals from whomever is in front alerts cyclists in the back to be careful
    • "On your right" or "stopping" are simple examples that cyclists shout out in the peloton to inform others of their intentions
    • "My turn to share the front" or "anyone need food or water" are other proactive examples of communication happening inside the peloton
  • Encouragement and Recognition
    • Whenever there are difficult impediments like tough gradients, sideways wind, pellets of rain, or even the successful maneuvering around unforeseen wildlife, cyclists from within the peloton are quick to recognize the effort or encourage the effort to continue
    • It really is a culture of encouragement inside the peloton
It would be nice if our organizations thought like and acted similar to a cycling peloton.
It sure might assist efforts to drive up employee engagement, creating a culture of sharing and connected leadership.
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