The Tour de France is entering its final stages.
It makes for such compelling viewing. Not just because of the scenery and the competition, but because there is a 'tour de leadership' going on as well. Is there another sport which interfaces with leadership so fully as cycling - particularly this particular race? I doubt it.
There is the endurance
Day after day - for three weeks - it is up and around, down and through obstacles. For cyclists it is head down, tail up for long periods of time - just as it is with effective leaders.
There is the timing
Six hours of cycling in a day can rest totally on the sense of timing over a few seconds. Do you join the break-away or don't you? For cyclists, instinct and experience and courage shape an ability to discern what to do at just the right time - just as it is with effective leaders.
There is the teamwork
Oh - the teamwork! The visible team of cyclists, the less visible support team in the car following, the invisible administrative team elsewhere - all working together to see the team succeed and a team member win the race. It is impossible to succeed at any level and in any way in this race without the visible and invisible team - just as it is with effective leaders.
There is the sacrifice
Within the team there is the sacrifice that goes on. Watching a cyclist battling into a headwind in order to shelter the team's leading cyclist so that energy can be conserved? And that is your purpose in life?! WOW. It gets me every time. It is about decreasing so that another can increase - just as it is with effective leaders.
There is the multiplicity
There are various races within the race. Each of these races focuses on a different capacity - be it sprinting, or hill-climbing, or enduring, or whatever. This means that multiple members in the diverse team have their moment to shine - just as it is with effective leaders.
There is the rest
Ah, the cyclists do go flat out for three weeks. But there are days of rest (about every seventh day!) and they know how to rest - just as it is with effective leaders.
There is the pressure
I cannot believe the way the public crowd in on the cyclists, full of screaming and oftentimes blocking their way. The pressure exerted by the crowd invading their space is immense - just as it is with effective leaders.
There is the isolation
Oh, the relative ease of riding in the pelaton - but the corresponding sadness of watching a cyclist all alone, battling a hill, or a headwind, with no community of which to be a part. Races are not designed for doing it alone - just as it with effective leaders.
There is the casualty
In cycling the crashes are as public as they are sore. Being knocked over by cars, falling down hillsides, taking unwanted detours - and more often than not, they jump back on their bikes, bruised and bleeding, and keep going - just as it is with effective leaders.
There is the integrity - or lack of it (who really knows?)
How ironic that the sport with such resonant allusions to leadership is also the sport that distinguishes itself the most for cheating. We look at that stream of cyclists, snaking itself around corners and roundabouts, and wonder about the extent of the deception that is going on and the longing that we all have for an even greater integrity - just as it is with effective leaders.
Well, that is my list and I only watch it on TV. Imagine what someone who really knows the sport might come up with?!