Have you heard of the BT Global Challenge? It’s known as the world’s toughest yacht race because it’s sailed “the wrong way” ‘round the world—against prevailing winds and currents. All kinds of waves and weather conditions are likely to be encountered. The originators have designed it crewed by amateurs: “The identical fleet ensures that only the seamanship, skill and determination of the people taking part make the difference between winning and losing.”

What’s the race like? According to the originators of the race, the sailors will encounter the extreme conditions of the world’s oceans. “From the unpredictable calm of the doldrums to the huge seas, icebergs and gale force winds of the Southern Ocean,” they say, “the race is an extraordinary test of personality and human endeavour - pushing everyone to the limit.” You can read more about it here: http://www.challengebusiness.com/events/index.htm.

What do you think it would take to win such a race? Did you think of emotional intelligence qualities?

Professors Malcom Higgs and Victor Duleqicz did. They’re emotional intelligence experts at Henley Management College, located in Greenlands, Henley-on-Thomas, Oxfordshire.

Before the BT Global Challenge 2000, they collected from the individual skippers and crews data on personality, personal competencies, emotional intelligence, motivation and team dynamics. “Our current research on managers confirms,” they said in an interview, “that it is a combination of not only Emotional Intelligence but also intellectual and management competencies which underpin managerial performance.”

“This project,” they wrote, “provides an exciting opportunity to see if our findings are borne out in a very different and challenging setting… [It] provides an excellent opportunity to explore team working in extreme conditions and the impact of Emotional Intelligence and other personality factors.”

After the race, one of the participants, Norwich Union’s Annabel Pearson said, “Someone asked me this morning whether they thought that there would ever be a day go by when I didn’t think about something on this race. Possibly not.”

It lasts for 10 months, by the way.

“I have learnt so much. I have circumnavigated the world – something I only ever dreamed about,” added Pearson. “Emails have made life bearable in these conditions and is a vital ingredient in keeping morale high on the boat.”

Spirit of Hong Kong’s Paul Lynch concurred. “A lot of energy comes from outside the boat from emails like [his nephew] Will’s.”

What did the researchers find? I’m still trying to find out myself. But isn’t it interesting that the “soft” skills were considered important to investigate in such a presumably physical endurance test? And that the participants mentioned – of all things – emails from home?

Author's Bio: 

©Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach. http://www.susandunn.cc. Coaching for individuals and executives in emotional intelligence, and Internet courses. EQ Alive! – the tools and training you need to coach emotional intelligence, http://www.eqcoach.net. Mailto:sdunn@susandunn.cc for more information or to subscribe to free ezine.