So, I’ve been thinking about team building activities. Into everyone’s professional life a little team building must fall. The question is will it just happen to you or will it be useful? I have certainly been a part of both sorts of team building. Really, anyone who had been employed for more than a nanosecond could probably say the same thing.
I thought I would chat a bit about a recent exercise I participated in that I thought was likely to be useful.
I am part of lots of groups and committees. One of them had a team building type session the other day. We realized a little while back that while we knew in general what each of us did, we had some gaps, some gaps that were not helping us work well together. After batting around a number of ways for us to get to know each other across subgroups, we landed on a session organized by a consultant we work with frequently. We met in pairs to have a short conversation, the goal of which was to get “behind our walls”. The walls we were to get behind were walls that separated our position and responsibilities from those of others, nothing personal. There were a set of questions for the interviewer to ask the interviewee. Many of them were what you might expect.
However, there was one question that really hit me:
What can I start doing, stop doing, or do differently to support your leadership?
There are so many things that I love about this question.
- It asks me to take some responsibility for the success of the other person as a leader and vice versa.
- It is not about taking part of my colleague’s job responsibilities, but rather about potentially small changes in what I do and say to more clearly support my colleague.
- It puts me in partnership with my colleague and he or she with me in terms of leadership not just being generally nice at lunch and chatting at events.
Of course, I already knew we are all in it together. This was not news to me. Still, this interview made me more aware of my role as leader who actively supports other leaders and who can and should expect this in return. And it made me wonder how can I help others support me?
This particular group is full of leaders who have different, sometimes very different, areas of expertise. So, in order to help others help me lead, I have decided that I will be more aware of when I might need to do some education in conjunction with presentation when I am engaging with the group. Might I need to give some pedagogical background or explain in more than passing summary a particular teaching strategy? Would it be worth sharing a particularly helpful article or video? I don’t want to overwhelm people, but I do want to build our shared knowledge base.
I am reminded again, that I am a teacher, no matter what title I might have.