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Interview: Shonnie Lavender and Bruce Mulkey -- Commitment, Relationships, and Teamwork

Shonnie_bruce I recently interviewed marriage vow experts Shonnie Lavender and Bruce Mulkey.

You must be wondering why I would interview marriage vow experts on a website dedicated to all things teamwork.

What could marriage vows possibly have to do with teamwork?

The answer is simple:  COMMITMENT

In their book "I Do!  I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook" Shonnie & Bruce share how to create inspiring marriage vows that will sustain your marriage now and into the future.

A marriage vow is a commitment to the relationship.  But what does it mean when you make a commitment? 

Do you know individuals or teams that struggle with this idea of commitment?  As in, they say they are committed to the relationship or team project but at the first sign of difficulty (or challenge) the commitment is quickly forgotten.

We in America are well practiced at bailing out of our marriage commitments.  Approximately 2.4 million people get married each year and about half of those marriages end in divorce.  Is it any wonder that some of these same people bring this willingness to bail out of commitments with them to the teams they belong to?

To help us explore this idea of commitment, Shonnie & Bruce created a thought provoking "Scale of Commitment" which you'll hear us talk about in the interview.  CLICK HERE to view the Scale of Commitment.

Click on the link below to listen to the 44 minute audio interview (mp3 format)

Download shonnie_lavender_and_bruce_mulkey_sm.mp3

Interview: Marc Kielburger -- Coauthor of "Me To We: Finding Meaning in a Material World"

Marc_kielburgerHow old do you need to be before you start doing your life's work?

How old do you need to be to change the world?

If you're Marc Kielburger you're going to answer the above questions a little differently than most. 

Marc is a 29 year old Canadian who is an accomplished social advocate, leadership specialist, best selling author, and sought after speaker whose work has been featured on Oprah, CNN, 60 Minutes, BBC and profiled in numerous magazines and newspapers.

For 12 years Marc and his brother Craig (age 23) have been running the world's largest network of children helping children through education and - - literally - - saving thousands of children's lives every year through their organization Free The Children.

Yep. Do the math.  These guys started playing big on the world scene when they were young teenagers.

And now Marc and Craig have coauthored a new book entitled Me To We -- Finding Meaning in a Material World.

This book that will change the way you view the world.

Me To We inspires readers to improve their lives, communities and the world by thinking "we" in order to gain a level of fulfillment and happiness that cannot be acquired through materialistic means.

I recently interviewed Marc about this book and he said:

"Having spent time with world leaders such as Mother Teresa and street children all over the world, we discovered one undeniable pattern.  When individuals have a strong involvement in the betterment of their community, they show increased levels of meaning and happiness in their life."

Listen to the entire interview by clicking on the link below (it's an mp3 file)

Download marc_kielburger_1006_sm.mp3

In this interview you'll hear Marc share some statistics that wil shock you (I was shocked) that point to how our personal values impact people living around the world. 

Marc also shares simple action steps you can take that help bring about positive change on a local, regional, national and international level.  This is what I love most about the message Marc and Craig are sharing in their book Me To We - - that we don't have to wait on someone else, some government agency or head of state, to decide when it's time to bring about positive change.  Marc and Craig teach NOW IS THE TIME and WE ARE THE ONES who are fully capable of doing what's needed.

Don't wait.  Take action now.  Be empowered.  Read this book.

TeleSeminar: Manager As Coach -- Learn the Number One Skill Needed to Build and Lead High Performing Teams

Student Only Area

In a recent survey of Fortune 500 CEO's, the number one issue facing these leaders is "the creation of a team based culture."

So how do you create a team based culture?

“My way or the highway” is not the answer.  It may have worked in the past but it sure won’t work today. 

People don’t respond to force anymore. 

Well, actually, that’s not true.  They do respond. 

By leaving.

And what team can afford that?  What team has time and energy to waste in today's economy?

Managers must learn a new way of leading people.

I’ll bet most of the companies that are in life-or-death battles got into that kind of trouble because they didn’t pay enough attention to developing their leaders.
   -- Wayne Calloway, Chairman, Pepsico Inc.

Continue reading "TeleSeminar: Manager As Coach -- Learn the Number One Skill Needed to Build and Lead High Performing Teams" »

TeleSeminar: Running Virtual Team Meetings

Virtual_team You can overcome feeling like you're "running through tar" with a virtual team.  I'll teach you how.


He remembered saying “How hard can it be leading a Virtual Team?”

After all, everyone on the team had access to each other via phone (land line and cell), email, Blackberry.  He thought it wouldn’t matter that the team members lived so far from each other.

The team had an initial face-to-face - - a one day meet-and-greet session to review the specs for their assigned project.

The goal was clear:  develop a new marketing plan.

And then reality…

The team wasn’t acting like a team at all.  10 months had elapsed and there was nothing to show for their efforts.

Working with the team was like herding cats - - the team was all over the place.  Hard to lead.

Team members complained about the lack of face-to-face meetings and that the project appeared to have come to a halt with poor communication being the major problem.

The team’s sponsor needs results now.  Flying everyone in for another face-to-face seems like the only way out but the cost (time, money) is prohibitive.

How do you get this team remobilized and working given the resource constraints?

On October 25, 2006 Tom Heck, the President and Founder of the IATF, led an engaging and highly informative TeleSeminar where he shared strategies, tactics, and tools for running Virtual Team meetings.  The call was recorded and you can get access right now.

Topics covered include:

  • Defining a "Virtual Team" and what makes them unique
  • Criteria to determine if the Virtual Team is up for the challenge
  • Stages of team development and how that plays into your approach
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a (Virtual) Team
  • Team Rules & Standards of Behavior
  • Meeting Structure - a proven model that works
  • How to prepare for the virtual team meeting
  • Four fun, attention grabbing strategies for the meeting
  • Five easy to implement technologies to use with Virtual Teams
  • Strategies for working with team members from different cultures

"This is the best TeleSeminar I've attended in six years!

-- Program Participant

Register now and receive immediate access to the recording and class notes.

Program Fee: $79

NOTE:  This program is now only available to members of the International Association of Teamwork Facilitators.  Become a member and receive immediate access to these and many other valuable team facilitation resources.  CLICK HERE to learn more about membership and to join.

Ask The Teamwork Coach: How do you balance motivation with pressure to get the team to work towards the vision of the company/entity?

The Question

From a principal working in a public school in the US...

How do you balance motivation with pressure to get the team to work towards the vision of the company/entity?

Also, how to handle a team member whose heart just isn't into that vision?

My Answer

Answering your first question...

How do you balance motivation with pressure to get the team to work towards the vision of the company/entity?

The problem is motivation.  It's just not sustainable because when you motivate someone the "pressure" (as you point out) comes from the outside. 

Stop trying to motivate people. 

Inspire them instead.

Inspiration is sustainable because it comes from the inside.

Listen to the interview with Dr. Lance Secretan where he addresses this notion of motivation vs. inspiration.  CLICK HERE to access the interview.

How do you get the team to work towards a common vision?

Read the book by Patrick Lencioni entitled "Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars"

There's another book by Lencioni you AND your team must read.  It will help you all understand what it takes to build a high performing team.  The book is entitled "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team"

Here's the problem you'll run into if you aren't careful - - you work in a school system and teachers (I'm guessing this is your team) have "seen it all" and this book and your efforts will likely be seen as "just another example of the new thing".  If you want your efforts to work then you've got to follow through ALL THE TIME.  If you (personally) can't commit to following through all the time then I advise you to save your energy (i.e. don't waste your time).

You write:

Also, how to handle a team member whose heart just isn't into that vision?

I'm guessing you are referring to a teacher and I bet this teacher is tenured. 

Hire a coach that specializes in helping people re-connect with their passion.  When people live and follow their passion they don't have time to play the "small game".  They won't tolerate people or situations that don't support them.

And if this team member won't get on board?  Then you'll have to let them go.  If this is a tenured teacher this will be hard.

Here's what it all boils down to...

You are creating your experience.  You are responsible for everything in your life (including your experience with this team member).  When you change what's going on inside you the outer will change. 

And how do you change the inner?

The best way to start learning is from a new movie on DVD entitled "The Secret".  Learn about it HERE  You can order it off the site, watch it on the website, or you might be able to find it at your neighborhood DVD rental place.

Get this movie as fast as you can.  Watch it as many times as you can. 

Learn and apply what this movie has to share and you will be amazed at the types of teams you can build.

Tom Heck interviewed by Michael Port on "Think Big Revolution"

Every Monday at noon Michael Port hosts the Think Big Revolution telephone conference call.  Michael shares ideas, tips and strategies for thinking bigger about who you are and what you offer the world.  It's free to participate and Michael has had some amazing guests on the show including Michael Gerber, author of "The E-Myth", a book virtually every entrepreneur has either read or knows about.

Michael recently invited me on the show to discuss the power of teams.

CLICK HERE to listen to the 60 minute program.

Teambuilding Game: How To Network

Imagine a seminar (conference, workshop, etc.).

You want the attendees to get to know each other - - to network with each other.

But you're concerned that people will do the same thing they always do at seminars which is miss out on the amazing opportunities networking presents.

Why do they miss out? 

Perhaps they don't understand the value of networking.

Maybe they don't know how to network. 

The seminar organizers have asked YOU to lead an activity to:

  1. Help people understand the value of networking, and
  2. Teach people what to say when networking

What will you do?

Below is a 45 minute video of Alex Mandossian leading a GREAT activity (live) that really drives home the importance of networking.  He then offers a simple 3 step process to help the group learn what to say when networking at the seminar.


Is The Team You’re Coaching Ready To Evolve?

You might be ready to work with the team but is the team ready to work with you? 

Look for these 6 important qualities to determine if the team is really ready.  If several of these qualities are absent, watch out!  They may not be in a space to do what’s necessary to change.

Here’s what to look for before you agree to work with them:

1. Does The Team Have a Gap?

  • They have a compelling goal that’s bigger than they can immediately accomplish.
  • They believe in the goal.
  • They are able to “stand up and be counted”. 
  • Realize non-linear results are best.

2. Is The Team Naturally Willing?

  • To listen, absorb and respond to the influence of the team coach.
  • To make substantial changes.  To apply themselves.
  • To take intelligent risks.

3. Is The Team Ready?

  • Has the resources, space, time, money and opportunities to actually move quickly on something.
  • Has ideas and wants and is ready to start realizing these.

4. Is There a High “Havingness” Level?

  • The team who is not blocked or who can get unblocked quickly about having and keeping more.
  • The team who won’t sabotage their success (team member self-esteem is strong and healthy).

5.  Can They Work Well With a Team Coach?

  • The team is not egocentric.  Team members grant power and permission to the team coach.
  • Willing to surrender, but not succumb; also willing to say no and make their own decisions.
  • Able to collaborate vs. resist or impress; able to share the credit for success. 

6.  Is The Team Willing To Make Substantial Changes?

  • Sometimes the team coach suggests the team make big, big, big changes.
  • The team needs to make at least some of these changes without fighting the team coach.
  • The team must be willing to reprioritize, placing their integrity first.

Audio Interview: Dr. Ken Blanchard

Kenblanchard Dr. Ken Blanchard's impact as a writer in the field of management is far-reaching.  The One Minute Manager (1982), coauthored with Spencer Johnson, has sold over 9 million copies and has been translated into more than 25 languages. 

In this interview, Dr. Blanchard talks about the principles outlined in one of his latest books High Five - The Magic of Working Together.  Dr. Blanchard shares why teams are important and what individuals and organizations can do to build successful ones. 

Click on the link below to listen to the interview
Download kenblanchard_mp3_sm.mp3

Teambuilding Game: Lycra Tube

The Lycra Tube fits in a small sack and can be used for slow and fast moving games.  You can even use it as a meeting space. 

Lycra is super stretchy and that's what gives it the high fun factor.

People can get hurt with this game so read this SAFETY WARNING


Would you like to lead this teambuilding game with your group?

I'll send you the complete teambuilding game write-up!  Just subscribe to my free teamwork ideas e-newsletter (see the form in the right hand column).  In addition to receiving a free teambuilding games e-book, I'll regularly send you complete and detailed lead-it-yourself instructions to teambuilding games like the one above.  The lead-it-yourself instructions include: 

  • Setup & Preparation directions
  • Rules
  • Comments and insights about the teambuilding game
  • Debriefing suggestions
  • Variations
  • Detailed "how to make it" if props are involved
  • Video clips and photos

Over time you'll receive over 100 new and different lead-it-yourself teambuilding game write-ups for FREE. 

CLICK HERE for a sample teambuilding game write-up.

Do you need immediate access to my growing online archive of lead-it-yourself teambuilding games?  When you purchase my popular Multimedia 3-CD Training Bundle, I'll immediately send you the password to my online archive of teambuilding game write-ups.  Learn more HERE.

>> Lead consciously.  Learn how HERE

Continue reading "Teambuilding Game: Lycra Tube" »

Distinctions for Teams: assist vs. help

As a teacher of team skills (or leader of a team), which do you find yourself doing more often, assisting the team or helping the team?  There is a very important distinction between the two.

To help someone means to step in, as in an auto accident.  When you see someone on the pavement, you're going to go in and help that person, you're going to touch them, you're going to turn them over, you're going to direct traffic, and so on.

Usually you help someone after they're already in trouble. 

To assist someone (individual or team) means to guide them but not step over the line and help them out of the predicament.  They have to be awake and alive enough to request assisstance rather than needing you to jump in and save the day.

As a teamwork coach, you should be spending 98% of your time assisting the team (or individual team members) when they're well and they're able to ask for help, and 2% of your time stepping in when they're over their heads, are having a really bad day or really need someone to step in and be their best friend for an hour or two. 

Sometimes we tend to help vs. assist because we wish someone had done this for us ehen we were stuck. 

But sometimes it's best for the person (or team) to not get "help" and instead hit bottom until things get so bad they bounce up and reach for assistance.

About Distinctions: 
The first of the two words or terms is generally the better, stronger, more useful one. Usually, nothing is "wrong" with the second word or term; it is simply weaker or less inclusive.  A teamwork coach will hear "where" the group is and/or what word of the two words the team (or a member of the team) is oriented around or coming from.  For example, many groups are still "stuck" in the power dynamic of life (force, dominance, victory, win/lose, etc.).  For a team to evolve, they would want to embrace and reorient around the notion of strength (resourcefulness, collaboration, win/win, development/success from within, etc.).  Even a single distinction can add tremendous value to a team and help them evolve.

© 1997 Copyright by Coach U.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission

TeleSeminar: Five Dysfunctions of a Team - - Teambuilding games that bring this must read material to life


The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team by Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite all-time books on teambuilding and I've found a way to teach the lessons of this fantastic must-read book using hands-on experiential teambuilding games and now I want to share how I do this with you!

If you teach team skills then this resource is for you.

Can you believe Lencioni, a NY Times best selling author, poo-poos teambuilding games?

When I first heard this I said "How could that be?!"

If you’re reading this post then you know teambuilding games are the fastest, easiest way to help people “get it” at a deeper level because we're engaging the mind AND the heart of the participant.

Could it be that Lencioni has never experienced the effective INTEGRATION of an experiential learning exercise (teambuilding game) into a team development workshop.  After all, many inexperienced trainers will lead teambuilding games in a disjointed and ultimately ineffective way. 

Keep reading if you love the book AND teambuilding games...

Using the recording below plus the detailed class notes, you can learn how to teach the principles of the Five Dysfunctions book in a fun and engaging way using the power of teambuilding exercises.    

I love Lencioni’s book because the five principles he offers up provide a wonderful framework upon which to build a powerful teambuilding program. In case you haven't read this book, the five "dysfunctions" of a team are:

  1. Absence of Trust
  2. Fear of Conflict
  3. Lack of Commitment
  4. Avoidance of Accountability
  5. Inattention to Results

My personal favorite from this list is Absence of Trust.  Can you guess why?

Which one strikes a chord with you?  Which one is the pivotal dysfunction in your mind?

I have advised many a Teamwork Facilitators to use the book as the framework for their team training event.

But Lencioni in all his wisdom offers no experiential learning activities to drive home the lessons of his book.

In this interactive 80-minute TeleSeminar led by IATF President Tom Heck you'll learn 5 teambuilding activities that will help you bring the material in this fantastic book alive and drive the lessons home in a memorable way.

Tom goes through each of the 5 Dysfunctions step-by-step giving you his personal interpretation of this important work. 

This is your chance to learn a simple way of combining great content from the book and great activities to make the training memorable and fun.

Even if you haven't read the book yet, you will still benefit from this recording.   

When you purchase the recording of this TeleSeminar we'll also provide you with all the class notes and even step-by-step lead-it-yourself directions for the teambuilding games.

This is the TeleSeminar recording to get if you love the Five Dysfunctions of a Team material and want to teach the lessons in a way that's fun and engaging (for you and the participants). 

Who is this product for? 

Trainers, facilitators, coaches, educators

What you get

Immediate access to a "Student Only Area" where you'll find:

  • Recording of the 80 minute live TeleSeminar in mp3 format
  • Class notes
  • Printable, lead-it-yourself directions for the teambuilding games
  • Video clips of the games

Purchase Now for $79

NOTE:  This program no longer for sale.  It is only available as a free benefit to members of the International Association of Temwork Facilitators.  Become a member HERE.