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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fencing lessons for successful teamwork

"There’s a huge difference between us and other teams," says junior saberist Samantha Parker. "In other teams there’s infighting. Here, we eat together. We study together on the bus."

"Fencing is an individual sport," Hagamen says. "But, paradoxically, our greatest strength is our sense of team."

Bukantz, of the US team, has worked as a referee during Harvard bouts and says he has never seen a squad with Harvard’s esprit de corps. He attributes it to Brand. "Fencing, to him, is about life lessons," he says. "He’s almost like a parent." Emily Cross adds: "Peter’s really good at working with people."

Brand brings the team together over a lot more than just meals. "We’re very egalitarian," he says. "Communal" is perhaps a better word. Back when he hired his assistants, he gave his fencers a say in the process.

This comes from an article on the success of Harvard's fencing team. Yes, fencing. It is a sport akin to "chess on speed". The physical body needs to be trained as much as the mind to prepare for a match. The coach (Peter Brand) goes further than most in how he enables the group to truly prepare as a team.

These are lessons worthy of trying to apply in a work environment. Good teamwork is often critical for business success.

Read the full article in the Sunday Boston Globe (free registration required).

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