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In Times of Crisis, Keep the Boat Steady In a year defined by uncertainty, company leaders need to think differently about how to set their teams up for success.

By Matt Cooper

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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The CEO of my first startup was a competitive rower in college. One of his teammates, who went on to compete in the Olympics, started a management training course that integrated classroom discussions with lessons on the water, rowing with a team. Our executive team attended one of his sessions. There are three lessons I took away from it that have stuck with me and feel especially important given the tough year we've had and the uncertainty that all companies continue to face during the pandemic.

Lesson 1: Set the right pace

In one of the first exercises, the facilitator put us all on rowing machines. He asked an HR executive to sit at the front, start rowing and set the pace for the rest of us. She spent her time at the front watching everyone else's pace, and we struggled to get into any semblance of a cadence. The facilitator then asked me to lead. Having seen how difficult it was to follow her, I became laser-focused on making sure that my strokes per minute didn't budge. You could have used my pacing to calibrate the atomic clock.