Leaders, senior managers and Managing Directors have a crucial influence on the behaviour of their teams when it comes to conferences, meetings or team building events. Over the years, we have seen the very best and the not so very best at these key company moments. I always try, subtly, to get over to the most senior company representatives on the day that the way they themselves engage, react and commit to the activity will have direct bearing on the outcome of the day.
Why? Because participants in a large or small corporate context look to their leaders consciously (and sub-consciously) for the way to react. This can be a fantastic catalyst for all company members seeing a new side, emotion or role in each other.
We often start our sessions with surprise introductions involving senior management and directors. This creates a totally open and creative space, and it sends out the simple message that if your managers are up for this activity, then you should be too!
Let me give you a couple of leadership examples from recent corporate days.
- At a 700-person conference in Manchester, we started the morning with a one-hour Haka energiser. We began with traditional Maoris running through the utterly-shocked audience. When we starting introducing some ‘new’ Haka warriors, ten senior managers, in full costume and tribal face paint, ran on stage to perform the Haka that they had all been rehearsing! The room went wild and we were into a highly motivated session with all 700 people involved.
- After lunch, a group of 40 participants returned to their meeting room to find some changes. Not only was the room a sea of amazing drums, but my team was playing for them as they entered and, more importantly, their directors were playing on stage with us! This raised the bar from the beginning and allowed us to take the drumming workshop even further.
Of course, over the years we have seen some leadership examples that have done more to hinder than enhance our activities. A good example is when the Managing Director or senior managers refuse to take part. Now I’m totally aware that there is a company to run and there are problems to solve, but nothing puts more of a dampener on a session than the Managing Director leaving after the welcome briefing to do something “more important”. What kind of message does that send?
Even worse is the fatal blow at the end of a fantastic team building activity, when all is finished and the Managing Director wraps up by saying, “So everyone, what have we learned from that and how can we implement it tomorrow morning?” You can see people sliding down their seats, mumbling, as all our hard work is destroyed in a sentence.
We are so lucky to work with lots of highly professional and totally aware leaders. We never forget to thank them for their trust in us. Having responsibility for someone’s company or group for a day, an hour or even ten minutes, is something that we take really seriously, but enjoy hugely.
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