As all participating boats are identical, the skipper and his crew are the decisive factors in winning the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. And although all participants are driven professionals and share the same great dream, they will have to excel themselves to win this race of races. That is why Schouten Global added their director coaching Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel to the team. She’s the perfect complement to both skipper Bouwe Bekking and his crew.
Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel, Director Coaching Schouten Global and Coach for Team Brunel in the Volvo Ocean Race:
'Our drive? Bringing out everything in people and teams to make them excel!'
Since the start of preparations in January Anje-Marijcke has supported the team on a daily basis. Her enthusiasm is evident as she describes her involvement. And her passion is almost palpable! Read all about it in the interview below.
CEO of Team Brunel Anje-Marijcke: "Coaching this team is a concentrated experience of everything I come across in a business situation. As CEO of the sailing team Bouwe, for instance, is largely responsible for the color, dynamics and tone of the team. Our view is that you provide optimal leadership as the person you really are. Bouwe is a great example of this. He is an extremely experienced skipper and leader - characterful and charismatic. While he knows himself well he is also open to learning more and using this learning to win the Volvo Ocean Race, together with his team. This fits seamlessly with my view that motivated people continue to grow. Bouwe has a definite mission. He is very open about this. He knows that he will never stop learning; his challenge is to further develop his own skills and talents and those of his team.”
Anje-Marijcke focuses on the team as well as on Bouwe: “I normally coach management teams and this situation, again, provides a clear parallel. How do you balance becoming part of the team while retaining your own autonomy? How do you see your own added value? The importance of these universal, basic values is multiplied by a factor of 10 when you consider that this team has to work together very closely, while being separated from their normal living environment for such a long period. Team collaboration also demands more here, as this team is together 24 hours a day and their reliance on each other is literally of vital importance to achieving their goal. Their mutual dependency is enormous.”
Anje-Marijcke also fulfills the role of personal coach: “The guys are all driven professionals and share the same dream. As individuals, however, they are very different - in terms of background, experience, core values and behavior. They all have different challenges in terms of relating to themselves and to each other in extreme conditions. And they all have individual as well as shared skills, which they can apply and further develop in order to excel as a team.”
Joint aspiration does not automatically weld a group of professionals into a high-performance team. “In the preparation phase the team trains hard to optimally fulfill and integrate the various roles and processes. In the process of optimizing performance, opinions will clash and team relationships will suffer abrasion. This is also necessary. A successful team will have experienced abrasion. And will preferably have done so in training, rather than when performing under high pressure on the boat, during the race. A situation in which there is no time for disagreement. How can one give abrasion a useful role? And how do you avoid conflicts? Good communication is essential - whether at professional or social level.”
According to Anje-Marijcke, the choice of culture to be built during the team development phase is important. “If the leader puts the emphasis on developing talent, this will establish an atmosphere of growth in the team. This, in turn, creates trust, commitment and motivation, which contribute to accelerated achievement of successful performance. Bouwe lives this attitude. Everyone can make mistakes, however each mistake can only be made once. “If you really want to excel you should be able to make mistakes, also in business. In order to book rapid advances you must be able to experiment - which sometimes leads to errors. Many companies think that they allow mistakes, but when mistakes are actually made, employees are in fact judged by them. This causes people to become cautious.”
Anje-Marijcke has an impressive business track record. “Practice what you preach is my motto, because what a leader does is much more infectious than what he says. This, of course, also applies to me. I am myself when I step on board as coach. Who I am affects the group. The extent to which I am open and really interested determines the way in which the team members bond with each other. I love the way they use humor to address issues and the way I can feel both free and bonded in this context. The trust placed in me allows me to make comments and put questions on issues, which might otherwise not have come to the surface. That’s the beauty of on-the-job coaching”, says Anje-Marijcke.
Own core values
Anje-Marijcke has her own core values, talents and ambitions: “Collaboration is a very important value for me. As well as having fun and enjoying a bit of banter. And, finally, continuing to develop and grow both others and myself. Humor makes life worth living, working together with others gives life meaning, but my main motivation is to become wiser, create new perspectives and grow. My next step is about autonomy and involvement: a challenging interplay that always forces me to grow! This team is teaching me how trust, the dream and the motivation to give everything you have builds impressive spirit. And an optimum result - just watch us!