In any large group team building activity (anywhere from 100 to a few thousand participants) there is a question that looms for the planners. What’s the best role for leadership (upper management, etc.) during the team building activity? If there are only a few people on the leadership team that question isn’t as challenging. If there are over ten on the team, it gets a bit tricky.
Here’s an example: Quixote Consulting is leading a Charity Bike Build charity team building activity for around 300 people next month. One of the planners told me they have over twenty people on their leadership team and wanted to know what would be good roles for them. Here’s what I told her below. Keep in mind these suggestions also will work for small group (under 100) team building activities.
What To Do When Incorporating Leadership into Large Group Team Building Activities
Here are some suggestions, going from maximum involvement to minimal involvement. Some or all of these ideas can be incorporated in some way.
Spread Leadership throughout the different teams.
Distribute the leadership team throughout the other teams formed for the team building activity – no more than one per team. Have the leaders be ‘just another person’ in the group. This breaks down barriers and creates connections between different layers in an organization.
Have leadership assist with all of the nitty-gritty tasks throughout the activity.
In the [Charity Bike Build] this can include: Scoring challenge answers, timing the obstacle course, even helping check the bikes for safety. These are high-responsibility, high-stress roles and you need the right people to do this – it’s not for everyone. But with the high responsibility comes great satisfaction for them, as well as wonderful modeling of servant leadership for the rest of the team. If they sign on for one of those roles, they do need to stay there throughout the event. It’s a little tricky on our end because we need access to them before the event begins to train them on what to do and have backup in case they don’t do it, but the stress on our part is worth it to have leadership so deeply integrated into the activity.
Have leadership be charity liaisons.
These people meet the charity when they come in the building, show the children to their fun room with milk, cookies and games before they meet the team and escort them in for the grand unveiling.
Judge commercials – Round One
There are two tiers of commercial judging with large groups. First judges see four or five commercials and pick the best one out of them to go to ‘Hollywood’ – performing on the stage with the entire team watching. This is done pretty quickly.
Judge commercials – Final Round
Three to five judges are on stage along with the performing teams behind a table with a microphone making ‘American Idol’-esque humorous or heartwarming comments.
A team of judges can walk through the teams at the end of the activity and pick their favorite decorated bikes.
Take pictures or video.
A bonus would be to have an AV person compile a slide show to show while someone from leadership sums up the importance of the activity and creates links to their daily work.
Introduce the charity, present the bicycles and thank them.
A really nice touch – a large amount of good will for a small amount of time.
Wrap up the activity.
Thank the teams for the good efforts, remind them of the good work they’ve done and make links to daily work.
Introduce the activity.
It’s very important that the team hears from leadership how important this activity is to being a successful team. If leadership does nothing else in activity, have them do the introduction.
What Not To Do When Incorporating Leadership into Large Group Team Building Activities
Have the leaders not participate.
Having them sit and watch their people work sends a bad message. If the leaders absolutely don’t want to participate, don’t have them in the room at all.
Make a small team of only leaders that competes against all the other non-leader team.
There are enough divisions in organizations already. I’ve seen this work out okay, but it’s a minefield that doesn’t need to be entered.
Appoint each leader to lead one of the teams.
Team building activities are often a time to see fresh faces shine. Don’t waste that by pointing to the obvious leader.
Quixote Consulting specializes in large group team building activities. Let us know how we can help.