Emerging Leaders/Emerging Crew

Completing Harris Group’s Emerging Leaders program involved getting our feet wet.  Throughout our 18-month program, we learned to work together sharing ideas and completing projects as a team or teams.  Many of the modules we studied had an underlying theme.  Communication in its varying forms.  The lessons learned, along with the camaraderie we developed along the way, culminated in what I would consider a very successful graduation day where literally only our feet got wet.

The morning rain subsided by the time we reached the Lake Union Crew house.  After a quick tour by one of our Emerging Leaders teammates, and professional crew coach, it was time to flex our muscles.  We practiced on the rowing machines (the ergs) to get our basic motions down.  Then it was on to the real deal.  The boats.  The much too expensive boats for beginners!  There weren’t any “if you break it, you buy” signs, but I was a bit nervous anyway. However, our crew coaches quickly alleviated any worries.  They were an experienced team and provided excellent guidance for us.  We were able to get the 8-person boat into the water and out to (brackish) sea without dinging the boat.  The only casualties were our sopping wet socks.

Harris Group's Emergering Leaders Learn to Row Graduation

Harris Group CFO, CEO, General Counsel and HR Director in the Corporate Team's 8 person boat

Each of us had an assigned seat in the boat and we quickly learned that being on the water was a completely different animal than pulling on the rowing machines.  I was sure on several occasions that I would be taking a swim, but each time we managed to right ourselves.  The key word here is “we.”  Everyone’s paddle was important.  We each had a job to do and had to be aware of one another at all times while listening to the commands of our coxswain.  The coxswain is the small person with the funny name sitting at the back of the boat, though it seems like the front of the boat, who is responsible for guiding us.  Kind of like a CEO.

The experience was very much a physical embodiment of our course.  We were working together for the greater good of the boat (company).  Each of us took ownership of our seat and oar.  Sometimes one person would have to lift or lower their paddle in response to another’s.  Balancing was hard for our rookie crew.  We even caught a couple “crabs,” which means losing control of an oar.  Luckily, we recovered nicely for beginners.  It wasn’t easy, but it was an exhilarating ride and I was proud of all of my crew mates.  We didn’t lose any paddles, avoided crashing into house boats and expensive yachts, no man or woman went overboard, no dents in the expensive boat, and we managed to win our race against the Executive Leaders’ boat!


Lessons learned:  Storms always clear, listening is key, it takes the whole village (or boat crew) to keep things afloat, and everyone has an important job so actions taken by an individual will affect the rest of the crew good or bad.  And…we are all in this boat together!

CFO Chris Shockey, CEO Randy Hinton and General Counsel Tony Davis learning to move the boat togehter.