Sitting ready at the starting line at the 2013 Freshman Heavyweight National Championship race in Sacramento, my crew was focused and ready to race. The hundreds of hours of rigorous teamwork and training we’d completed had led up to the next six minutes. My heart was pounding in anticipation, waiting what seemed like an eternity for the official to wave the starting flag. All of the crews flew off the starting line taking short and quick strokes to get the boats up to speed. Our crew had settled to a pace that was slightly slower than the field. After 800 meters of a 2000 meter race, our crew was fifth out of six crews, but this was all by design. Our plan for each race was built around a strong push at the halfway mark that would put us in a good position for the end of the race. We had practiced this move (affectionately known as the “Bruno 20,” named after our mascot at Brown University) countless times in practice. We knew we had something in store to unleash at the right moment.

In a sport that requires such intense synchronization, you are able to feel a very strong connection to the other rowers in your boat. Our communication was practiced and effective. Each rower understood their role on the team, each stroke was synchronized and calculated, each member was just as dedicated to victory as the next. Having such a strong foundation allowed us to achieve success. We knew our purpose, we knew our goal, and we knew what we needed to do to get there. We completely trusted one another and knew how to capitalize on each other’s strengths.

This type of collaboration is essential while striving for excellence in a professional setting. In the workplace, it is just as important to understand your colleagues’ capabilities and develop trust as it is on the water . Like each rower understanding what role they play in moving the boat forward, great teamwork in the workplace helps streamline projects, improve efficiency and create positive change. How can we create this teamwork? Ask questions. Develop processes (and don’t hesitate to modify or improve them). Define responsibilities. And most importantly, always work toward a goal. (tweet this)