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December 2007

Audio Interview with Kevin Eikenberry, author of "Remarkable Leadership - Unleashing Your Potential One Skill at a Time"

Kevin_eikenberry_2Kevin Ekenberry is an expert in helping organizations, teams and individuals reach their potential.  He is the author of Remarkable Leadership - Unleashing Your Potential One Skill at a Time and is a contributing author to over 20 other books.

Kevin's impact on the field of team and leadership development is extensive havingRemarkable_leadership_2 worked with Fortune 500 companies, smaller firms, universities, hospitals, and government agencies.

Kevin believes that extraordinary potential exists in each of us and this philosophy allows him to help clients bring that potential to reality.

In this audio interview we discuss the thirteen core competencies that define a remarkable leader.  We pay special attention to life-long learning, the core competency that Kevin says is the overarching competency that will make you a truly remarkable leader.

Click on the play button below to listen to this 34 minute interview.

Tom Heck interviewed on the Leader's Playbook radio program -- the topic is Teamwork


I was interviewed recently by Dr. Relly Nadler for his Leaders Playbook radio program.  Dr. Nadler is the author of a great book on leadership called "The Leaders Playbook - How To Apply Emotional Intelligence - Keys to Great Leadership"

This show is focused on Teamwork and Collaboration, one of the Emotional Intelligence (EI) competencies in Relationship Management. How does a leader develop their team? How do you build team spirit? How do you get them involved in the team process and mission? How is trust important in teams and how do you generate it? What are ways to create an empowered team?

Click on the round play button below to listen to the 54 minute interview.

Teambuilding Game: Count Up

Here's a "no prop" teamwork activity that's fun and easy to lead.  Use this activity to practice intuition and coordinating team efforts.

The objective is simple:  a small team (example: 5 people) must count up from 1 to 5 but the participants must not use a predictable pattern.


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

When you become a member of the IATF you'll receive immediate access to our growing online archive of teambuilding games plus you'll receive many other benefits.  CLICK HERE to learn more about the benefits of IATF membership.

CLICK HERE to view a sample IATF teambuilding game write-up which includes:

  • 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

Become a "BASIC" member of the IATF and receive two free teambuilding games e-books instantly.  Learn more HERE.

IATF Teamwork & Leadership Ideas Newsletter: Fall 2007

Tom_and_joseph_2 Hello!  I'm Tom Heck, President & Founder of the International Association of Teamwork Facilitators and here is your Fall 2007 edition of the IATF Teamwork & Leadership Ideas e-Newsletter.

Five years ago I was inspired to launch the IATF which represented my response to the events of 9-11.  That day helped me realize I needed to step up and play a bigger game.  At the time I was leading lots of workshops and 9-11 was the whack on the side of the head that caused me to look for ways to support the work of teamwork facilitators worldwide.

I had next to no experience using the internet to teach and disseminate ideas and when I launched the site I had two subscribers to my e-newsletter (my wife was the second subscriber).  My passion to make a big difference is what kept me going.  Now we have 31,579 subscribers from 103 countries.

This continues to be an amazing and delightful journey and one that's required a lot of growth on my part.

Though I love sharing strategies and tools for leading teambuilding games through the IATF, there is a secret truth that hovers in the background and that is - - what you ultimately teach is who you are.  There is no escaping this truth.  No matter how cool, new, or different the teambuilding strategy you're attempting to employ is, the underlying core message you're imparting on your group is who you are - - your values, beliefs and personal standards, your way of being in this world. 

For example, if you believe the world is a dangerous place filled with people who will "get you" if you slip up (i.e. victim mentality) then this is what the group will ultimately learn from you -- you'll end up perpetuating fear.  On the other hand, if you believe and operate from a place of love and abundance then this is the real lesson your groups will learn from you.

This means THE most important investment you'll ever make as a leader, trainer, facilitator, educator, coach is to "upgrade" who you are by investing in your own personal development on a consistent basis.  As you grow, so will your ability to touch the lives of the people you serve.  As you grow, so will the groups you serve.  There is a direct correlation.

If you acknowledge this truth and you want to profoundly help the people you serve, there is only one question I have for you...

What are you doing on a consistent basis to invest in your personal development?

I've got some exciting news to share on this subject...

We've recently developed the most comprehensive and affordable  leadership and personal development program ever devised for teamwork facilitators...

It's called the Leader As Coach Fast Track Program.  This is a 10-week distance learning program delivered live via telephone conference calls and the web.

Tom Heck
President & Founder
International Association of Teamwork Facilitators

New Teambuilding Games

New Team Theory

The Good Life


New Audio Interview

Language of the Leader -- 8 practical language principles for anyone who wants to play a bigger game

Leaders use language differently.  Leaders know the words they speak (or think) become things.  Words are powerful.

Christine Kane's writes a great post at her blog where she shares 8 practical tips for anyone choosing to use language more consciously.  Anyone who wants to be a powerful leader will pay attention.

Here's a couple of Christine's tips:

  1. Eliminate "never" and "always"
  2. Use "and" instead of "but"
  3. Avoid "should"

I left a message at Christine's blog on this post and thought you might benefit from it here:

We (my wife and I) have two children (ages 4 and 8) and all of us work on using language consciously.  Changing things like "I don't know" to "I choose to know".  And here's one I learned from the works of St. Francis of Assisi - - changing "I feel sick" to "My body feels sick".  St. Francis making the distinction that I am not my body.  My body is a temporary vessel for my soul but my body is not me.

About the power of words and what we see in them (experience in them) - - try this one:


How many will see this:  Opportunity Is No Where

Or, perhaps more importantly, how many will see this:  Opportunity is Now Here

It's the same combination of letters.  The all powerful variable is the person viewing the letters.  A subtle all important shift that will decide how you experience your day, your life.

Participants in the my Emerging Leaders Coaching Program become skilled at using language consciously.  It's amazing to see the shifts that can occur in people's lives when they become aware of the link between the language they use and what they experience.

Christine is an awesome singer, songwriter, and musician.  Here's one of my favorite songs entitled "Right Outta Nowhere"

Top 10 Mistakes in Using Focus Groups

Lots of teams use focus groups.  The purpose of a focus group is to gather information or learn from the participants, as input for decision-making.

Michael Goldman of offers up the "Top 10 Mistakes in Using Focus Groups" and how to avoid them.  Here are a couple of mistakes:

  1. Calling a meeting or session that is meant to impart information, influence people, solve a problem, resolve conflict, or create a plan, a “focus group.”
  2. Going ahead with focus groups before ensuring that the purpose for the session(s) is clear, including how the results will be used.

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Teambuilding Game: Tennis Ball Madness

The Tennis Ball Madness teamwork activity is easy to lead and yet such a wonderful activity to teach the power of win-win thinking (collaboration).

As you'll see in the video, this teambuilding exercise starts with multiple small teams reading their own set of written directions.  All sets of directions are exactly the same (click on the link below to download a set of detailed directions).  Essentially the directions say your team wins when all the objects are in your container.

99.9% of every team I work with starts off trying to win the game by thinking only of winning as a small team.  It usually takes exhaustion before the small teams begin to consider ways to collaborate.  There IS a solution that allows all to win.

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

Get instant access to the growing online archive of lead-it-yourself teambuilding game directions (including the above game) which includes: 

  • 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 100 new and different lead-it-yourself teambuilding game write-ups and growing!

All this and MORE when you become a member of the International Association of Teamwork Facilitators.  Explore the list of member benefits by CLICKING HERE.

CLICK HERE for a sample teambuilding game write-up.

NEW: Emerging Leaders Coaching Program

New from Tom Heck and

Emerging_seedling_hands_1A comprehensive and rigorous 12-week leadership program for key staff in youth serving organizations.

If you want your management level staff to upgrade their leadership skills and join a community of professionals working in the field of Youth Development then I urge you to review this program.

The Emerging Leaders Coaching Program

  • Learn how to be a strong leader
  • Master the skills needed to build inspired teams
  • Unleash your full potential while living a balanced life
  • Become a powerful change agent and improve the world
  • And be supported 100% of the way

Enrolling now! 

Limited space available!

CLICK HERE to learn more!

What impact (if any) do motivatioinal posters have on your team culture?

Rowing_fs Does your organization put these motivational posters up around the office?

Ever wonder if these have any positive impact on your team culture?  Or is it just as effective slap up a picture of a kitten?

There is a very interesting post HERE at Will Thalheimer's blog on learning and performance about this subject.

Thalheimer points to an article in the NY Times entitled "Who's Minding The Mind?" by Benedict Carey.

New studies have found that people tidy up more thoroughly when there’s a faint tang of cleaning liquid in the air; they become more competitive if there’s a briefcase in sight, or more cooperative if they glimpse words like “dependable” and “support” — all without being aware of the change, or what prompted it.

Could this mean the motivational posters actually work?

I'm looking at one in my office right now.  :-)

Summer 2007 fun - - a jump into a mountain swimming hole

Here is the mountains of North Carolina fall has set in and winter is just around the corner.  Daytime temperatures are in the 60's (Fahrenheit) and in the 30's at night and the amount of daylight is quickly decreasing. 

It seems like it was just last week when we when played in the swimming holes along the Blue Ridge Parkway near our home.

Here's a short video clip of my wife Anne jumping into a really cold and deep swimming hole in the middle of summer. 

What could you do today - right now - that would be totally refreshing and help you experience your role as a leader in a new and energizing way?

Creative way to start a team and leadership development conference

Have you ever attended a workshop or conference that was really boring?  I have, which is why I try to start my events a little differently just so everyone knows they need to expect the unexpected.

The video clip below is from a couple of years ago when I had designed a 4-day leadership conference for employees in programs receiving funding from the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention (NC DJJDP).

Famed youth development expert Elbert Hargrave opens the conference doing his best to be VERY boring and all in attendance wonder what they've gotten themselves into.

And then the music starts and things get interesting.

What's crazy is that it took three days of preparation to pull off this 2 minute stunt.  When I told the conference facility what I wanted to do they just looked at me like I was crazy.  Thanks to Matt McCoy for keeping me safe on the roof.

At the end of the clip you'll see me call for "back up". The person on the other walkie-talkie is African drumming teacher Tom Harris who works at Inner Harbour near Atlanta. Tom Harris rolled into the room and had everyone standing up playing "boom whackers" (a percussion instrument). Then master games teacher Jim Cain took over and led 60 minutes of fun icebreakers. By the end of the evening the group was laughing and acting like best of friends.

Ask The Teamwork Coach: Do you have articles to handout at the end of a teambuilding training event?

Here's a recent exchange I had with a member looking for advice on articles to provide a group after his teambuilding session.  I'm sharing it because I'm guessing this person's approach to providing resources for the group is common.  Most trainers don't provide pre-assessments and therefore must rely on what the group's contact tells them about the group (like you'll see below). 

NOTE:  Arnold isn't really his name.  I changed it to protect his identity.

Hi Tom,
I am putting together a leadership training program proposal. I am in search of some hand out articles that they are requesting at the end of the three-hour teambuilding program. Can you suggest anything?  The participants are young professionals 25-35 years old.  Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you, Arnold

Hi Arnold,
Have you done a needs assessment with the group?  The resources you supply should be in harmony with their needs.
-- Tom

Hi Tom,
Yes of course, I am looking for articles {general in nature}. One of their requests was that the participants have research articles or information articles as “take home” reading and information.  Can you help recommend articles and how I can obtain them?
From my proposal...
>> At the end of this session, participants will be able to describe:
Why organizations rely upon teams
What a productive team looks like
How to Build Effective Teams
Group and Team Dynamics
-- Thanks. Arnold

Hi Arnold
I get that you have an outline of what you want to give to the group.  However, unless you complete a detailed needs assessment with the group (each member of the group) then whatever you give them you'll just be guessing and if you want to guess then give them anything.
-- Tom

I do not believe that every group member needs a “needs assessment.” The needs assessment was given to the director of the program. The program is being designed for the director of the program I will ask you in a more direct way. Do you have an article that specifically speaks about ways to find common ground or win-win between different opinions?
Thanks, Arnold

Hi Arnold
You wrote:
    I do not believe that every group member needs a “needs assessment.”
In this case I disagree.  We see things differently.  That's OK.
    The program is being designed for the director of the program
Again, we see things differently. Designing the program to meet the needs of the director will do just that - - but you'll likely miss the target when it comes to meeting the needs of the team.  That's OK to.  All is in perfect order.

As for articles....
I suggest everyone on this team read "Silos, Politics and Turf Wars" by Patrick Lencioni

I also suggest this team read Lencioni's "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team"

You can get abstracts of the above books here.

I hope that helps. Good luck.


PS  There is a very simple and very powerful needs assessment survey in "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" that you could easily administer to all team members prior to the program.  The information you gather will likely change your program design.