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Exercises to build your team

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

You're passionate about building a healthy leadership team... but what do you do next? Well, first check you have between three and ten people on your leadership team. Yep? Great, next why don't you try one of the five dysfunctions of a team exercises. I'll unpack two exercises here for you to try with your team.

Personal histories

Excellent for building vulnerability, personal histories allows your team to practice being vulnerable. Simply allow 20 minutes in your next meeting and give everyone a few questions. Lead the process by going first yourself (as is always the case in five dysfunctions of a team exercises).

It's also worth assuming your team aren't stupid. This might sound crass, but too often as leaders we dumb things down for our team to help them understand when what people appreciate is being trusted and when we assume the best of them, not the worst.

Ask them to give some details - how many siblings they have, what number they are in the siblings, where they were born, their first job out of school and the most interesting or difficult challenge they overcame as a child.

You'll be amazed how this exercise increases vulnerability.

Team accountability exercise

When it comes to five dysfunctions of a team exercises this one needs some context. If you try this with a team without vulnerability you're going to have some frazzled people. Only give this a go if you're very confident in running it and once your team has a semblance of vulnerability.

Get your team in a room and expect this to take two hours. Ask everyone to spend 15 minutes thinking about the biggest strength and weakness each person in the room brings to the team. Make sure to ask people not to make it personal or to assassinate character. This is about people's strengths and weaknesses as team members.

Then, go first as the leader. Ask everyone to go around the room and tell you the biggest weakness they see in you as a team member. Hold your tongue! Once they finish going around the room, DO NOT BE DEFENSIVE. Instead, thank everyone for their words and think of one thing that resonated with you. Now ask them to go around the room saying your greatest strength as a team member. Once again, respond only with what resonates.

Next, do the same thing for each person. You'll be amazed how honest your team can be with one another and how well everyone takes things. If someone takes everything negatively, it could be a red flag as to that person's ability to function well in the team. But then it also could just be that something was said that triggered something deeper for them.

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