If your manager mentions a team-building and leadership training day, do you inwardly groan? Maybe you see it as a fun day out with colleagues but one that, ultimately, has no long-term benefits. Despite how employees often feel, though, research shows that if you take part in a professionally developed facilitated leadership experience program, the results can benefit you both at work and on a personal level.
If you've been part of an organized leadership experience before, it's tempting to be skeptical. However, you need to start considering the benefits of soft skills to leaders. Think about the benefits of enhanced communication skills, the bonds of shared experience, and the engagement of employees. All these can help every level of leadership and management improve strategies and techniques.
Too often leaders’ communication styles are routine and task focused. With leadership building and team away days, though, leaders are thrown into new situations that challenge this status quo. For example, say most of your office communication is done via email. If you’re put in a situation where you must spend time communicating verbally, this can be revealed as an area of necessary improvement.
After the leadership experience, you’ll be required to debrief your team and recap the day. This is an opportunity to ask important questions. Are your instructions clear enough? Are all the leaders giving the same message? Is there room for discussion in the action phase of the task? Through this process, you’ll also discover what your team already does well.
If you choose a dynamic, action-based leadership development day, you could find yourself performing a historical reenactment. This tests your mettle against great leaders of their times, such as Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln. Alternately, you could end up spearheading a virtual rocket launch.
Whatever the situation, you will have to lead your team, harnessing all their skills to complete the challenge in the time frame given.
This method of experiential, hands-on learning connects concepts like team building, leadership, and innovation. Traditional leadership education still has its place, but it can be reinforced for your whole team through an enjoyable out-of-office endeavor.
Whether you’re a new team or you just want to build on the rapport you already have, getting out and completing an action challenge builds trust. This then boosts employee engagement and morale and fosters collaboration when you are back at your desks.
Maybe you feel you need to reboot your enthusiasm for leadership and management, or perhaps you’re a brand-new leader. Whatever the case, it's always helpful to gain a fresh perspective. You will learn how the leadership principles of the Battle of Waterloo or the mentality required when coaching an Olympic team relate to your own experiences, and you can then see how to apply those lessons in your field.
Dick Richardson experienced this firsthand as his plane came crashing down over New York, United States. From his airplane seat on what later became known as the “Miracle on the Hudson” flight, he witnessed the importance of having a well-trained team.
Richardson went on to co-found Experience to Lead, which focuses on experiential learning in business. The company recently won a Gold Stevie Award for Entrepreneur of the Year in the Business and Professional Services category at the American Business Awards®.
When you’re planning your next training day, consider the benefits of what getting into the field and trying your hand at an experiential challenge can do for your team. Don't stop at the away day, though; make these opportunities to connect with your staff part of your workplace culture.
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