Who’s the Winner: Driver or Pit Crew


You’ve seen the picture a thousand times: The race car driver lifts a trophy overhead, celebrating a victory. Look closer and you’ll often see the driver’s beaming crew gathered around, too. Keep this picture in mind because it can lead to big wins for your company or fleet’s initiatives.

Let me explain: When an organization takes on a new project or initiative, it needs a champion—like the race car driver. The project needs a great team, too — like an expert pit crew. So, what does this look like in real life?


The Champion

Our founder Jack Roush said, “Every success we’ve ever had here had one thing in common…. A champion.” If your fleet or organization is trying something new, assigning a champion to that initiative is key.

The champion’s role is to:

  • Have a clear picture of the vision for the project.
  • Move the project along by making decisions.
  • Understand the work involved and support the team doing it.
  • Maintain relationships.

With a crystal-clear vision of the project, the champion can make sure it fits the requirements outlined by all stakeholders. With this in-depth knowledge, the champion can also answer questions and make quick decisions without having to consulta busy executive. In the same vein, the champion’s understanding of the work being done by the project’s team allows him or her to speak up for that team and support the team’s work with upper-level management. With the champion’s ear to the ground and identity as a point person, he or she can ensure all parties in the project are on track.

Just as drivers depend on their pit crews, the successful champion understands that good teamwork is essential to triumph.

The Team  

One of my favorite books, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni, nails the importance of teamwork. “Not finance,” the book states, “Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.”

How’s the teamwork at your organization? If you are planning a new initiative or product, the team behind it is where the rubber meets the road.

Lencioni identifies five issues that plague ineffective teams:

  • Absence of trust
  • Fear of conflict
  • Lack of commitment
  • Avoidance of accountability
  • Inattention to results

If you see your organization in any of these issues, you might want to check out Lencioni’s follow-up book: “Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” In it, he offers tools, exercises and examples for creating better teams.

Before you launch that new product or initiative, consider both the champion and the team, and make sure you have both in place. Thoughts?