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Nice Guys do Finish First: NASCAR Daytona 500 Ė A Leadership Lesson
by Dr. Karen Otazo
 

What an experience to meet Kevin Harvick  at the Daytona 500.  I expected to meet an experienced professional .  He was also a savvy organizational player and a caring leader. And a really nice guy! As we drove around the course and conversed on Sunday morning and  as I  later watched him in action, Kevin demonstrated his leadership skills

1.    "Onboarding" people new to the organization:  He made sure that a new player learned ďthe ropesĒ of his new organization. Juan Pablo Montoya had just moved from the Formula One racing. Kevinís coaching was something like: ďDonít expect to do well the first time.  Itís your job is to learn the track and make friends.  Your friends are your lifelines which can keep you alive and help you win. He showed his personal thoughtfulness in small and meaningful ways.

2.    Focus on going forward with no complaints:  Since Harvickís car had had mechanical problems during the qualifying round, he had a 34th place starting position which affected his positioning and pit stop position.  He wasnít worried and didnít complain.

3.     Positive vision:  Kevinís vision was that his car, his team and his sponsor were right for the track and the race. He didnít sweat the small stuff.  He kept his eyes on the end game.

4.    Worked through set backs:  Mid-way, when his car was damaged he pulled back to let the air flow to the radiator to cool it down and got the problem fixed at the next pit stop. He didnít worry about falling back ; he  just worked on getting back into the top ten. The set back didnít upset him.

5.    Help on the way up:  Once he got in a good position and saw an opening Kevin took the outside lane with help from his many friends.  As he made his move for the finish line he got a push from behind more than once from the same guys who could have blocked his trajectory.

6.    Eyes on the prize:  Kevin never looked back as other cars had wrecks.  He kept his eye on the prize though he looked out for other drives. (We could hear his comments by radio as he communicated with his team.) He stayed balanced and focused at every moment.

7.    Show appreciation:  Kevin Harvick thanked all of his team immediately after his win and expressed his sincere congratulations to the man he beat by a nose.  He sent his sponsor team an email on Monday.

 Personal note:  My granddaughter, Danielle, asked for a NASCAR Dale Earnhardt Barbie for her birthday in March.  Kevin Harvick replaced Dale Earnhardt in the Richard Childress group on the NASCAR circuit.  What a small world. 
 

 
 

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