On the Water or at the Watercooler, Teamwork is your Coxswain

On the Water or at the Watercooler, Teamwork is your Coxswain

Research has shown that by incorporating experiential learning into professional development programs, adult learners thrive. To be successful though, the experience has to not only be fun, but be translatable to the business world. With this concept in mind, we have created a new partnership program between the UC Davis Graduate School of Management and the UC Davis Crew Team, which will allow groups to come together like never before.


Rowing is the oldest intercollegiate sport in the world. For a time in the late 1800s/early 1900s, it was one of the most avidly followed sports in the US, with thousands turning out on riverbanks to watch professional races and intercollegiate championships.

Overcome Barriers

Long after that popular heyday, however, rowing continues to exert a strong pull on its participants, and in fact has seen recent tremendous growth at the collegiate, junior and master’s levels. And all this, despite its true and/or rumored drawbacks – early mornings, grueling training, and (these days) little popular recognition or reward. As you consider your career, you may already see some strong ties between the barriers that rowers and corporate professionals need to overcome.  

But why has rowing prevailed even with these drawbacks? And how can you translate that to your own success? Rowing is the ultimate team sport. It requires a type and intensity of teamwork unparalleled in competitive sports, and this type of shared effort engenders a high level of trust within the boat. Once team trust at this level is created, organizational leaders can transfers that trust out of the boat and into the corporate space, making rowing a conduit for creating the ultimate corporate experiential learning program.

BE in Sync

Just like learning to trust a new corporate team, there is challenge in learning the individual rowing stroke. But extend that to learning how to match your every movement to the other seven people in an eight-oared shell, and the value of teamwork quickly becomes clear. Just like in the working world, when one person tries to “stand out”, or to “stand back”, the boat row worsens. Good rowing, just like good corporate teamwork, requires that you are aware of what everyone else in the boat is doing, and that you fit your efforts in the best you can with your teammates.

Come Together

Olympic rowers perfect this teamwork and trust over years of training, but every new rower discovers the need for it their first time in a boat. Even better, every new rower can discover in their first day of rowing what it feels like when the team comes together and the boat starts moving faster and easier.

Unique One-Day Team Building

This knowledge has led us to develop the most unique one-day team building experience on the west coast. Join us for Building Team Collaboration and Performance: The UC Davis Leadership Development Rowing Experience to explore the concepts of self-organizing teams, followership, team psychological safety, and coaching as leading and then put that knowledge to use immediately on the water.

The program can be scheduled for groups as small as 6 and large as 24. We will provide you with the frameworks you’ll need to take the learning from this experience back to the office to make an impact, as well as the training and safety experts needed to ensure you have a safe experience in this learning lab workshop.


Experiential learning is the best

Such a great article.

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