Tour de Career: Team Roles

In cycling each team is made up of nine riders. Each rider on a team can have a different specialization. A careful balance of skill sets on a team can determine if a team will stand triumphant on a champion’s podium at the end of the day or simply fade into obscurity. Today we’re going to talk about how a team works together to reach their final destination successfully.

This is post 2 in a professional development series:

1. Prologue

Specialties

In most careers you typically get a choice for specialization and SQL Server is no exception. In the world of cycling within a team you have riders with very specific specialties. Combining the right group together with a balanced skill set is the formula for a winning team (just ask Johan Bruneel). Listed below are the specialties and what they contribute to the team:

Climber – These riders specialize and thrive in riding in tough inclined environments such as the mountain stages. During these stages these guys really set the pace for the team and help propel your team leader to victory.

In your team of DBA’s you may have some folks who may excel at tougher tasks than others. For instance, we have one guy on our team who is a whiz at clustering. Whenever we have a question or tasks in our projects we either seek his help or defer the task to him as he can knock it out and keep our team moving along.

Time Trialist – These are individuals who excel at sustaining high speeds for long periods of time. Within races you’ll have stages that are designated as either team or individual time trials. In an individual time trial each rider races against the clock rather than the usual pack riding done on other stages. This type of stage is interesting because usual tactics like drafting can’t be used since it’s just the rider going all out by himself on the course.

Sometimes in our careers there are going to be stages where we’re going to have to go all-out for an extended period of time. Just remember this is all part of the race and its only one stage of many so just grit your teeth and give it everything you’ve got! In the end the extra effort produced during that time trial could put you ahead in the overall race.

Sprinter – Sprinters are a special breed of riders that typically finish stages with explosive accelerations. During the rest of the race they conserve their energy for that moment by riding in the slipstream of other riders to conserve energy. In addition to the final sprint to the line there are several intermediate sprint points along the route that give sprinters a chance to gain more points in the sprinter’s category.

As I’ve said, your career tour is not a sprint…until it is. There are times where you’ll be coasting along and then suddenly something will cause you to need to suddenly shift gears and just go for it!

Domestique - Stemming from the French word for “servant”, a domestique’s role is to support the team and more importantly the team leader. They provide support by blocking opponent moves on the road or helping their team conserve energy by riding ahead of them. This causes a slipstream effect which can conserve up to 30% of a rider’s energy (it’s kind of like disk partition alignment bonus!). They may also do other tasks like shuttle food and water back and forth between teammates or help teammates if they suffer a bike failure (e.g. flat tire, broken spoke).

As you can see domestiques seem to be the grunts of the team and bear a lot of hard work but not necessarily bask in the glory that their team leader might. In the end, however, it is the hard work put in by good domestiques that allow a team leader to advance in the overall standings as well as the team as a whole. Often in our careers we take a narrow view point and don’t look at the bigger picture. Sometimes it’s hard to see why we work so hard and yet sometimes see little glory or gratitude in return. In cases like this you have to step back and realize that your valiant efforts could mean the difference between your team leading the pack or falling by the roadside.

Lieutenant (aka Super-Domestiques) – If a domestique is a Jr DBA then these guys are your Mid-level/Senior DBA’s. Lieutenants are basically domestiques that are a bit more accomplished and are called upon in more critical situations. Throughout the season there are many races (or Tours) and sometimes your regular team leader may not be racing so a Lieutenant then steps up and becomes team leader for that race.

In your shop when the primary Sr. DBA/Developer goes on vacation or out of the office, there’s always a need for someone to step up and fill his/her shoes when they’re gone. When that moment comes you should be prepared to step up and take the lead. As a lieutenant your skills will continue to sharpen until you’re ready to make the leap to…

Captain (aka Team Leader) – This is the guy everyone’s trying to put on to the podium in Paris. Your team is built with the goal to make your leader win. Now don’t think this guy just coasts to victory without doing his share of the work! To be an effective captain you need to be versed in all aspects: climbing, sprinting, and when needed function as a domestique as well. In addition the captain gives guidance and mentorship to other riders on the team as they are typically the more experienced riders as well.

In order to be the head of the pack  you’ll need a wide variety of skills and traits. So be it a flat stage in life where you’ll just be cruising along or a rocky terrain that’s going to be extra effort, you need to be ready to face it all. Getting to this point takes time but always remember you have team mates and other support staff who are willing to help you out to get where you want/need to go!

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