At the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, a University of Washington rowing team did the unthinkable: They beat the better-equipped and physically stronger Nazi and Italian teams to win the gold. Brute strength wasn’t the key, writes Daniel James Brown in The Boys in the Boat. Laser-sharp communications and coordination made the real difference.

“Crew is not about power or aggression. It’s about being smooth through the water,” he explains. “Just 220 strokes to victory and one rower out of sync can scuttle the entire operation.” What’s true for the rowers is true for your team members. Keep everyone in sync. The same level of communication and coordination is critical to success.

Sometimes excluding people comes with the best intentions: Why overwhelm everyone with a group email that doesn’t apply to their specific tasks? Fair question, but the answer should be obvious: You’re all in the same boat.

Excluding some members from communications runs the risk of creating conflicts and interpersonal issues. Avoid offending any team member—and creating potential escalation points—by including everyone in communications from the very beginning.

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t decide what people should know: Share the same level of information with the entire team
  • Maintain transparency at every step of the project
  • Make everyone accountable to each other
  • Build trust by encouraging team member accountability