Leaders are not born. It may be true that some have more innate leadership ability than others, but leadership is very much a learning experience.
Learning to Be a Better Leader
“Education can’t stop at 18 or 21” says Patrick Woodman, Chartered Management Institute (CMI), “it has to continue throughout life. Managers will need to not only refocus on their own professional development but on how they develop those around them to help them succeed.”
Learn to Empower Your Team
“I would say no matter what level you are, make every person on your team count,” says General Ann E. Dunwoody, the first woman in the U.S. military to achieve the rank of four-star general.
In order to be a good leader, you must get the most out of your team. And to do this, you need to empower each and every member of your team. As the old saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. “You have to deal with them,” says Gen. Dunwoody. “Either corrective counseling, or try get them on board, or something to make sure they don’t drag the team down.” This may require extra attention on your part, but you must also remember not to neglect the high performers either. It’s a delicate balance.
“When you have those folks who are exceeding the standards and doing a great job for your team, you acknowledge that,” says Gen. Dunwoody.
If you can achieve this balance and “bring the best out in each of your team members, then you’re going to have a great team,” says Gen. Dunwoody. “So, reward the good performance, take care of the ones that aren’t carrying their load, and create a high performing organization.”
Learn to Criticize
One of the most difficult aspects of being a leader is learning how to deliver feedback. It is not necessarily something that comes naturally to everyone, says Gen. Dunwoody. “I think you get better each time, but it doesn’t always have to be a confrontation, sometimes it’s just education.” Remember, criticism or feedback doesn’t always have to be negative. It’s important to be able to deliver positive feedback – everything is a teachable moment.
Learn through Practice
“Most folks who start out with a modicum of innate leadership capability can actually become very good, even great leaders,” says Erika Andersen, Forbes contributing writer. It just takes time and practice. You see, “leadership is not a personality style,” says researcher Katherine T. Whitnah. “It is a learned set of skills attained through development opportunities that are integrated to a lifestyle of learning.” Basically, leadership can be taught.
As American psychologist, philosopher, and educational reformer John Dewey once famously said, “there is an intimate and necessary relation between the processes of actual experience and education.” It’s what’s known as experiential learning. Basically, you learn by doing. And that’s what we try to do here at Terrapin Adventures. We teach you to be a better leader by putting you in situations to lead.
- Develop trusting relationships to communicate both ways: According to the University of Oregon’s Holden Leadership Center, businesses should strive for open communication between employees and management. At Terrapin Adventures, our team building activities aim to break down barriers and open the lines of communication.
- Communicate effectively both verbally and non-verbally: Body language is important, so be mindful of your posture, facial expressions, and hand gestures. They say that 80% of communication is body language.
- Be open to different points of view to take advantage of team members: “Being flexible is a key trait of any team player,” according to America’s Job Exchange, a company specializing in online recruitment advertising and OFCCP compliance.
- Collaborate by sometimes leading and sometimes providing support: “While it is important to have a clearly defined set of roles and responsibilities for each member, on the most effective teams tasks and responsibilities are not rigidly adhered to,” writes Traci Schatz. “Team members are willing to cross lines of responsibility and do something that may not be in their job description, if that is what’s required to get the job done.” Our team team building activities allow people to play different roles within the team to experiences different points of view. Sometimes you may be a leader and sometimes you are providing a supporting role for the team.
“In the same way that naturally occurring events create changes for an organization, an organization has the ability to create a team building event that contributes to a culture of dynamic leaders who naturally adapt and respond to change,” says Whitnah.
At Terrapin Adventures we are able to create a customized program (onsite or offsite, indoor or outdoor) to help you and your employees grow your leadership skills. After each exercise, your group will sit down with their facilitator to discuss the lessons behind each activity and how they translate to the business world. This discussion is designed to reinforce these lessons and help ensure that the progress made during your team building outing sticks.
Team building can be done year round as Terrapin Adventures has team building suites where we use our portable equipment and creativity to engage with teams on fun and meaningful exercises.
If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
- Kruse, Kevin. A Four-Star General’s Approach To Team Building. Forbes Magazine, 12 Feb. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2018/02/12/a-four-star-generals-approach-to-team-building/#145df2ab1ce1.
- Odello, Theresa, Eddie Hill, Suny Cortland, and Edwin Gomez. “Challenge Course Effectiveness: The Impact on Leadership Efficacy and Work Efficacy among College Students.” Journal of Unconventional Parks, Tourism & Recreation Research 1.1 (2008): 18-22. Web.
- Whitnah, Katherine T. A Phenomenological Inquiry: In the Context of Organizational Development, How Does Experiential Team Building in the Form of a High ROPES Course, Contribute to Positive Leadership Development, and How Can It Be Improved? Adler Graduate School. Web.