Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Do it yourself teambuilding: Lily Pads

Activity Name: Lily Pads

Materials: Hula Hoops (1 per person)

Setup: Start by scattering 1 hula hoop per person around your entire playing area.  A 25’ by 25’ room is great, but this game can be played in different sized spaces.

Goal: To get everyone safely on a Lily Pad (in a hula hoop), even as Lily Pads disappear!

How to play:
Call out different ways for the group to move about the open space (e.g. walking, skipping, marching, running, chicken dance, etc.).  When you call “Jump on a Lily Pad!” everyone must run to a hula hoop and jump into it.  More than one player can share a hoop. After each round, you can take one (or several) hula hoop away.  As you eliminate more hoops it will require your group to cooperate by sharing hoops and including others.

- Did the activity get easier or harder as Lily Pads were removed?
- What did you do to overcome that challenge?
- What does it mean to include someone? How was that important in this activity?
- Where else could we try to do a better job of including others?

Learning to Lead: Practicing Leadership Through Gameplay

We often think of leaders as naturally assertive and charismatic people. We envision Presidents, Generals, and CEOs as born leaders, destined to be in charge. By cultivating the myth that leaders are born, not made, our kids develop a narrow impression of who can be a leader in their own world. Perhaps it is the person who speaks the loudest or the one with a Captain’s “C” on their jersey. Children who fall outside of these categories become hesitant to take on leadership roles and so do not develop their leadership skills, reconfirming their belief that they are not fit to lead.

We must teach our kids that leadership is not an inherited ability, but rather a skill that takes practice to master. At Dynamix, we believe that learning and fun should go hand in hand. So, here are three simple games that each offer a different leadership learning opportunity for your group:

1. Call and Follow - Rotate Responsibilities
GOAL: To have multiple children practice leadership through communication. 
SET-UP: Blindfold all but one player. Have the blindfolded children form a train with their hands on each other's shoulders. Have the non-blindfolded player, the "Caller," stand on a chair.
GAME: The Caller guides the blindfolded train around the room using only their voice. To increase the challenge, scatter obstacles, like pylons, around the room for the group to avoid. 
LEADERSHIP LEARNING OPPORTUNITY: Have children take turns being the Caller. This will give multiple children the chance to practice their communication skills and feel in charge of the group. It will also allow everyone else to practice following different people's directions. 

2. Blind Crossing - Creative Twists
GOAL: To give less assertive children the chance to lead.
SET-UP: Scatter a few hula-hoops around the room. Have the whole group hold onto one long rope.
GAME: The entire group must cross from one end of the room to the other by only stepping inside the hula-hoops and never letting go of the rope. 
LEADERSHIP LEARNING OPPORTUNITY: Add a twist by blindfolding a few of the more assertive group members. For an extra challenge, you can also tell the blindfolded people they are not allowed to talk. By limiting the influence of the group's natural leaders, other children will have the opportunity to step up and fill the leadership void. In addition, it will give your traditional leaders the chance to practice listening to others. 

3. Find the Leader - Leadership by Example
GOAL: To demonstrate the power of leading by example. 
SET-UP: Have the group sit in a circle. Pick one child to be the “Detective” and have them wait outside of the room. Pick one person in the circle to be the “Leader.”
GAME: The group must watch the leader and copy whatever action they are doing at the time. The Leader must switch the action frequently. The detective must reenter the room and try to guess which person is the leader by watching the group. 
LEADERSHIP LEARNING OPPORTUNITY: After the game, discuss what it means to lead by example – through our actions, not our words. Have the group think about the power of our actions and how positive and negative choices may influence other people. 

Written by: Shira Lurie, Dynamix Toronto lead facilitator

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Building Relationships in Teams: Self-Disclosure and Trust

When people work in teams, they build relationships. Strong relationships allow for more productive and meaningful teamwork and collaboration. This cycle highlights the importance of relationships in teamwork. Relationships develop through working in teams and relationships enable individuals to work together in meaningful ways.
Given the importance of building strong relationships, it is essential to consider what skills and behaviors lead to the creation of a strong and fulfilling relationships. By assisting children in developing these skills and behaviors, you are giving them tools to build a successful future that inevitably will require—and be enriched by—creating relationships and working with others. 
Self-disclosure is an act of revealing your thoughts and perspective about a present situation, or other relevant and meaningful information, to another person. Sharing personal thoughts is crucial when building relationships in teams. Self-disclosure allows team members to get to know one another better, identify common goals and overlapping values and, once common goals have been identified, allows you to work together toward accomplishing these goals. Just as strong relationships and teams are built through appropriate self-disclosure, the lack of self-disclosure between team members can result in the deterioration of relationships and influence the strength of a team. If an individual keeps quiet about his/her needs, desires and goals, other team members are likely to do the same; people in relationships tend to match the amount of disclosure coming from others. A breakdown in communication can lead to a team where members are not working together or recognizing and valuing one another’s needs and desires.
It is well known that trust is the foundation for building and maintaining meaningful, productive relationships. This is certainly true of building relationships within a team, and when trust is established, team members are far more likely to take risks, communicate important information, and share personal thoughts and feelings through self-disclosure. Similar to the concept of self-disclosure, levels of trust are matched in relationships, and if one individual takes a risk and trusts others in the group, other team members are more likely to do the same. Feeling as though someone else trusts you makes it easier for you to trust that person in return. Johnson (2014) offers helpful hints about trust, and there are four that I believe are extremely helpful to remember when developing relationships within teams:
1.      Trust is hard to build and easy to destroy: building a high level of trust within relationships can take a long time, and one act of disloyalty can eliminate trust in a relationship.
2.      The key to building and maintaining trust is being trustworthy: as Johnson (2014) says, “when you want to increase trust, increase your trustworthiness” (p. 99).
3.      Trust needs to be appropriate: always trusting and never trusting is inappropriate. Evaluate the situation and trust yourself in knowing when it is important to extend trust to others.
4.      Cooperation increases trust; competition decreases trust: generally, trust develops between individuals who are working with one another rather than against one another.

Self-disclosure and trust are necessary in building relationships in many different contexts, including sports teams, the work environment, friend groups, and families. If adults can model these skills and behaviors, not only will the adults have more fulfilling and meaningful relationships, they will begin to teach their children how to build fulfilling and meaningful relationships in all areas of life.

Johnson, D. W. (2014). Reaching out: Interpersonal effectiveness and self-actualization (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Picture taken from Google Images:

Written by Shea Wood.

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.