I laughed and laughed. My friend and colleague Kate was driving the buggy on a wild adventure tour in Queenstown. She accelerated through the dips and had us bumping and splashing through puddles. We named our rig ‘Frank’. We yelped and hooted as Frank crawled up impossibly steep and rutted slopes. My stomach ached from the laughing.
There were 23 of us on a leadership retreat. Reflection, sharing, and fun were all part of the program. As independent consultants, it’s the closest we can get to team culture: we are a network of peers supporting each other. Even solo professionals need people to be their best.
Leadership is not a solo activity. We accomplish nothing except with others.
And yet we often take for granted the relationships central to the delivery of any goal. We allow relationships to evolve on their own, like a stream meandering, curling away from obstacles.
In This is Marketing, Seth Godin says, “Culture beats strategy – so much that culture is strategy.”
Yet how many organisations prioritise culture? It’s an after-thought, taken for granted. Until things go pear-shaped.
The core of culture is found in the interactions of smaller teams. The bonds in smaller groups form the tissue, the muscle, that build the organisational body.
These kinds of bonds are forged through unique, shared experiences. These bonds hold us tight, and help us fly, boundless.
Powerful experiences rarely occur spontaneously. The savvy leader plans team experiences to give her team the opportunity to forge lasting connections.
Here’s my five points for building experiences for boundless teams:
A New Zealand adventure is a glorious thing. Not all team experiences need this scale. A walking meeting in the local park can work just as well. Be intentional with your team experiences and soon the seeds of boundless teams will surely sprout.
What experiences with a team have fundamentally shifted your experience with your colleagues? What were the key ingredients that made it special?