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The research team charged with the responsibility of investigating the required behaviors for top-performing leaders during a period when leadership was imperative, in the 1990s took advantage of the British Telecom Global Challenge 1996/7 Round the World Yacht Race to carry out their research. They however do not limit their research work by dwelling on this first Round the World Yacht Race alone but they also study the subsequent BT Global Challenge that took place between 2000/1. One thing was however constant in all these studies, that is, the researchers were out to prove something about high-performing leaders; important attributes that made them what they were.
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Using the BT Global Challenge 1996/7, the team based their research on Professor Harry Schroder's high-performance managerial qualifications. After tracking how the 14 race-skippers behaved, it was concluded that behaviors of the top-performing individuals made them stand out as the leading skippers. Using this information, the BT Global Challenge 2000/1's participants were selected out of the 186 applicants such that they included the 12 race skippers together with two other reserve skippers.
In the BT Global Challenge 2000/1 research, the research team wished to establish the correlation between the high performance of top performing leaders and how they related with people. The study also aimed to establish what kinds of management skills a high-performing leader ought to possess. This is because of the passage of time that has altered the business terrain and has thus brought new challenges for leaders. During this time, the leadership function became as tasking and complex as the business environment. It was thus viewed that high performing leaders combined both of these; both skills and relationships with people.
The research team's work however did not just come to an abrupt end that easily. There were some unanswered questions that needed immediate attention. The roles of emotional intelligence and team spirit had not been tackled. Since emotional intelligence is viewed as a model that balances the sensible with the emotional, it has been found to play a role in the sustenance of performance within the race. As the research team discovered, there has to be an effective form of team work between members of a crew for them to realize a desirable outcome. In carrying out the second study on the Round the World Yacht Race, the research team kept itself busy tracking the skills, behaviors and attributes of the skippers. Interviews were thus centered on areas that would enable collection of as much information that concerned the above as possible. The change in the terrain of business and the accompanying change in complexity of leadership were also put into consideration.
Whatever the research team seemed to get from their studies appeared to be in line with certain leadership models, a sign that it was headed in the right direction. The situational leadership model assumes that unique leadership styles should be used for different circumstances. The development sequence in small groups is a model that assumes that there are probable stages each team undergoes for it to become highly productive and that members who know this are able to improve how they relate at each stage.
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Interviews were carried out before the beginning, during and after the race. This was in a bid to acquire an in-depth understanding of each of the race skippers. Over a period of one and a half years, approximately 550 interviews were carried out. Members of the Inspirational Intelligence Research Forum undertook an estimated 80 interviews at each leg's end. From these, a comprehensive profile of each of the 12 skippers as the race continued was made available. A total of nine self-perception interviews were undertaken in addition to 40 observer interviews.
The whole research process from the problem statement, collection of data, data analysis, interpretation and report writing has been carried out by the research team. So far, the research has managed to bring out certain aspects considered significant for one to become a high-performing leader.