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Roberto Heras: "The most important thing about a leader is that he never throws in the towel".

The five-time winner of the Vuelta Ciclista a España spoke at the Foro Deporte y Sociedad about the importance of good leadership in sport.

24 | 03 | 2022

On Thursday 24 February, the cyclist and current MTB competitor, Roberto Heras, took part in lecture of the Sport and Society Forum organised at the Hotel Alma in Pamplona. He was joined by Joan Manuel Montaner, president of group Montaner, and Fernando Insausti, from Caixabank. All three have the common experience of the Titan Desert, a 6-day mountain bike stage race.

Heras says that he took part in the degree program by chance: "A friend suggested it to me and I didn't even know what it was, and I loved it. The goal is not about winning, but about finishing it". For his part, Insausti is clear that it is not just any degree program : "The Titan has a social component that for me is fundamental. Almost everyone who has taken part in it emphasises the conviviality in the camps, before and after the race. That is unique". However, the most veteran of this degree program is Joan Montaner, who has already run it eleven times: "I do the Titan every year and for me it's a very special moment, it's like a family meeting ".

During the lecture they spoke of the hardness of the degree program. A reputation which, for them, is more than well-founded. Insausti pointed out, amusingly, that sometimes it takes forever: "You get through the hard times thinking that this moment will pass... and in the end another, worse moment arrives". Montaner said that you have to know before starting the degree program how to get out of those moments when they come: "In 2014 it was especially hard. I put motivational phrases on my equipment every day, and in the most difficult moments I remembered my father, who had just passed away. It's for you, Dad, I thought. And it helped me. In the case of Heras, he sees core topic reminding yourself why you are there: "There are times when you have a hard time, but if you have a clear goal financial aid to overcome it. The head is everything. That mentality is the difference between winning or losing at something. If I don't know the goal, I'm not going to have a clear course".

Extrapolating this experience to the world of work, Montaner pointed out the importance of all companies being clear about their mission statement and their values: "We all have problems and we have to overcome them. We are unstoppable if we are clear about mission statement. For me, it has to go hand in hand with values and be clear about goal and where we are going".

Both Heras and Insausti agreed on the importance of having values in order to achieve objectives. For Insausti, these values reside in "people. I have always thought of all the people I have been able to help and assist. And also in sport". And Heras stresses the importance of professionalism, "because in the end, every cyclist has a role within a team and that is fundamental. If one is not professional enough it will affect the rest. That is something that is most valued".

In sport, as in working life, there is the figure of the leader. "I think the leadership role is more difficult. People always talk about the loneliness of the leader and managing things can be complicated, but managing people is more complicated. You need a lot of skill or empathy", says Insausti.

Both in sport and in working life, the figure of the leader is core topic : "Being a leader is a lot of responsibility and it's nice if you respond physically. The most important thing as a leader is not to falter, not to throw in the towel, which is when your colleagues fall apart. And if you are well, you encourage the rest of the team", concluded Heras.