Outdoor Team Building Activities

As the summer weather starts to settle in, those people in leadership roles might want to take advantage of a nice day through outdoor team building activities. Getting your team out into the sunshine can be a nice change of pace and a reenergizing experience, especially for a team that mostly works indoors and/or sitting at a desk.

A scavenger hunt might be a common activity; however, one can turn it into a team building exercise. Especially when you encourage people to work with those they don’t normally work with. Leaders can use this activity to break up social cliques in the workspace.

Making the scavenger hunt task-oriented with problem solving activities is another way to increase the team-building aspect of the activity. This might include puzzles and riddles as well as searching for particular objects. Each team should receive an identical list of tasks and there should be a deadline by which all tasks need completed.

The “human knot” is another fun activity that is well suited for a sunny, outdoor space. Depending on the number of participants, you may want to break people up into several groups. The instructions are simple—everyone should stand shoulder to shoulder in a circle and facing each other. First, everyone sticks out their right hand and grabs a random hand across from them. Then the same with their left hand. The goal is to untangle the knot without releasing hands. Success is dependent on team work and communication.

An “egg drop” using office supplies is another possibility for a game—instructions for variations on egg drops are available online. But the gist is that teams will use common items from the work space to construct armor for their raw egg. After a set time limit is up, each team will drop their egg from the same height to see which team constructed the best armor. Obviously, this messy game is easier to clean up outside.

These are just a few examples of team building activities that don’t happen in a meeting room around a table. Try them out. That nice weather will have people’s attention wandering from common, indoor activities.

When Distractions Are a Good Thing

When we speak about success, leadership, the workplace and other goal oriented parts of our lives we typically think of distractions as bad. How to avoid all those things that lead our attention away from responsibility and personal betterment have been a large part of the conversation of success. But what if distractions weren’t all bad—which seems to be the popular narrative about distractions in America.

According to an article in Psychology Today distractions can very much be a good thing in many situations. The article suggests that distractions are one of our primary coping mechanisms for dealing with physical pain. Not only that, but also mental pain such as anxiety. In children, pre-surgery anxiety is very common. In one study, three groups of children were studied for pre-surgery anxiety. There were three groups: one was given an anxiety medication; one group was given nothing; one group were given video games to play. The study found the video game group to have the least amount of measurable anxiety. Another study found that adult patients given video games to play experienced 50% less pain during wound cleanings.

But clearly distractions are also bad at time. How can we tell the difference? Dr. Jane MacGonigal has written extensively on the subject of distraction and she suggests that we simply ask ourselves whether we are using the object of distraction as an escape from our lives or are we using it to enhance our lives?

In the workplace, in a group as the leader, is a particular person or group using a distraction as a means to avoid uncomfortable conversation, to avoid boring or challenging work, to disengage from useful problem solving? Maybe it’s OK for your employee to play Words with Friends for fifteen minutes to ease their anxiety about please an important client. Maybe some off-topic conversation at a creative meeting is just want the group needs to relax and be able to share the ideas they think might be good, but are afraid of.

PsychologyToday.com

How to Act Like a Leader When You Aren’t in Charge

When traveling the road of life, we won’t always be the one in charge or be put into a labeled leadership role; however, that doesn’t mean that exemplifying leadership qualities isn’t important. So, how can one act like a leader when they aren’t leading?

First always be a clear communicator. Leaders don’t talk behind people’s backs, they don’t complain behind closed doors. They never say yes when they mean no. Leaders speak what they believe and they stick to their guns, unless presented with good reasons to change their outlook. Good leaders are always flexible as well. Teams function best when everyone is giving an opportunity to be a specialist. Let the other team members shine when it comes to what they are best at. Weigh your teammate’s abilities and perspectives equally.

Another two-sided coin of demonstrating your leader-like qualities is to not let people walk all over you. Make your voice heard. Don’t be afraid to help someone, but don’t let them take advantage of you either. The best leaders bring others with them on their ride towards success—this is how success works share it, but take your credit when it’s due. Likewise, if something is your mistake, don’t be afraid to own! If you are under a good leader, they will understand, and the team will be there to help make the best of the situation. When you are acting like a leader, a mistake must be owned by the person who made it, but the team will want to help them.

Finally, don’t put up with bullies—whether it is someone trying to dominate a conversation or marginalize a co-worker, stand up for what is right. You’ll be surprised how quickly most people are to rally behind the morally-upstanding person who speaks out first.

Everyone Should Be a Leader

While we usually think of the leaders in an organization as being “at the top,” no great organization would be what it is without leaders at every level. Whether it’s a mail clerk expediting the delivery of a letter he recognizes as important or a VP going the extra mile to close the next big deal, leadership is important at all levels of an organization.

Being a leader comes down to wanting to make the world a better place, believes Helen Handfield-Jones, independent consultant on leadership and author of The War for Talent. “What does that mean? That sounds grand, but when people apply that idea to their work situations, it means having a vision of how your unit, or you as an individual, can be more effective and creative, go beyond day-to-day requirements, and energize others around that vision.”

The idea that a single, super-talented personality will guide and foster growth in an organization with out the help of others has been idealized in first-world cultures, but is not very realistic.

While it is true that such an outstanding personality can bring a lot to an organization no organization can thrive without team members from the bottom up who are willing to set the example and make it their mission to go beyond the base requirements of their office.

Why Everyone in an Enterprise Can — and Should — Be a Leader

Jody Victor: Alternatives to Directive Leadership

In most cultures today directive or autocratic leadership is considered to be outdated. Directive or autocratic leaders tell subordinates what to do and how to do it and the subordinates are valued for their ability to do things as they are are told to do them.

One issue with this style of leadership is that it is unlikely to maximize the perspectives and talents of each employee or team member. There are several other fairly distinct style of leadership that modern leaders are employing, however.

Consultative leaders seek and value the council of their entire team. While this type of leader is usually still task oriented, by including everyone’s ideas the team has the biggest pool of solutions to choose from when problem solving. A consultative leader is still directive in that they will make a final decisions and therefor stand apart from the team. A good example of this style is a baseball coach consulting with the pitcher and catcher about strategy.

The consultative leader might take their style a step further by becoming a participative leader and put himself on more even ground with his team by working in the group. Participative leaders will still need to be directive at times by moderating the conversation or setting down timelines for decision making. However, final decisions are owned by the group, not by the leader alone.

At the other end of the spectrum from the participative leader, the delegative steps back and allows the team autonomy. Again, this type of leader may to be directive when it comes to logistics, but will be a hands-off mentor figure to the group. Decision making may be owned completely by the team in this type of relationship.

Finally, there are negotiative leaders. This style involves offering incentives to entice his followers towards success. This type of leader is often fairly directive and values his own decision making as a leader. Unlike a fully directive leader, a negotiator often values ends over means, allowing individuals and teams room to try their own ideas. There is a long standing tradition of this style in sales in which sales people or teams receive commissions on sales.

Whatever alternative leadership style one adopts it will be necessary at times for a leader to step in and make some directive decisions, however choosing one of these alternative styles will allow a leader to get the most out of their team.

http://www.leadershipgeeks.com/directive-leadership/

The Value of Grit

As adults most of are both leaders and followers and regardless of our role we typically desire success for both ourselves and others. And while there have been thousands of studies conducted and many books written on the subject a “formula” to success remains illusive.

Angela Lee Duckworth, former high level consultant turned 7th grade math teacher and psychologist has been studying the idea of “grit” as related to success and has some interesting findings to share in her TEDtalk on education.

While Duckworth’s focus is on education, her findings and implied advice can be useful for anyone wishing to accomplish their goals.

Duckworth left a high level consulting career to become a 7th grade math teacher. In her 7th grade classrooms she noticed that IQ was not the best factor to determine which students in her classes would succeed and fail. She found that those students with “grit” (which she also defines as passion and perseverance) had the highest chances of success regardless of any other factor.

She left teaching to pursue a masters degree in psychology and to study the relevance of “grit” as related to success. She conducted her studies across many walks of life and found that “grit”—passion, perseverance, stamina, hard work, “sticking with your future”—was more important than social intelligence, physical health, good looks and IQ, which are all factors traditional considered to be very important to success.

You can listen to Duckworth’s TEDtalk here: