Team Structure & Team Roles -- Webinar for Advanced Teamwork Facilitators

Team Roles & Team Structure



Facilitators of teams spend a lot of time dealing with issues of structure and roles.

This is true for new teams, and also for established teams where structure and roles shift over time.

In this enlightening session, Susan Gerke and David Hutchens -- creators of GO Team Resources -- will present fresh ways of thinking about structure and roles... and also present some simple, dynamic processes for engaging your team in an energizing dialogue around these critical issues.

This free webinar was developed exclusively for members of IATF. Brought to you by IATF Visiting Faculty Members  Susan Gerke and David Hutchens.

Susan_gerke Susan Gerke is the president of Gerke Consulting & Development where she designs, customizes and implements leadership and teamwork programs.  Her clients include Bank of the West, BHK Accountancy, City of Anaheim, Human Options, Orange Coast College, Sole Technology, UC Irvine, and Warner Bros.




David Hutchens, a bestselling author, and organizational learning consultant. He  has worked with IBM, The Coca-Cola Company, Wal-Mart, GE, Nike, and many others.





Together, Susan and David have created GO Team, a library of 18 easy-to-deliver team-training modules that allow you to build your own team training agenda.

This Webinar will be interactive allowing you to get your questions answered live during the session. It's "just in time" training and development! 

Event Details


New Lenses for Team Structure & Team Roles


Monday   April 8, 2013


Starts at 1 pm  Eastern (NY City time zone)
runs for 60 minutes


Susan Gerke and David Hutchens, creators of GO Team Resources

Tom Heck, President & Founder of the IATF


 CLICK HERE to register.  It's FREE.  Registration is closed.


We're using Google Plus Hangouts On Air for this live event. We will be broadcasting live video and taking your questions during the event. There is no charge to you. Everything is free as long as you have access to the internet.


This event was recorded and the recording is posted in the IATF Members Only Area. Not yet an IATF member?  Join HERE. 


Mental Models -- How does your perspective shape your reality?

This school year, like last school year, I volunteer each Friday morning at the middle school my son attends. I teach a leadership class and use the curriculum developed the Center for Creative Leadership.

This week and next I'll be teaching a lesson on "Mental Models".  Mental Models (think "paradigms") are deeply held images of thinking and acting. They are a framework we use to make sens of experiences. We create Mental Models about the world around us and about ourselves.

While preparing to teach this lesson I've been gathering videos I'll likely share with the students. These are videos that speak to the topic of Mental Models. 

How do your Mental Models support you? How might they hinder you?




What do we mean when we say making leadership happen?

How often do you discuss "leadership" with individuals or groups? For me, leadership is a frequent topic of discussion. Team and leadership development is my "lens".

One of the most important questions one can ask about leadership is:

What do we mean when we say making leadership happen?

  • articulate a clear vision
  • engage your employees
  • develop talent
  • have a global mind set
  • think strategically
  • create win-win solutions
  • leverage diversity
  • communicate effectively
  • hold people accountable
  • be an agile learner

Two problems here:

  1. The lists of leader characteristics and behaviors seem endless. It’s as if we’ve taken every positive human quality and made it into a requirement for effective leaders.
  2. Some of the advice can seem contradictory at times. Managers are told to take charge and to empower others, to be politically savvy and authentic, to be flexible and steadfast.

There is another way.

The Center for Creative Leadership offers a model of leadership development that brings sanity to the equation. Instead of putting the entire weight of leadership on individual managers and their capabilities, CCL suggests it’s important to examine how the whole system is involved in making leadership happen.

CCL's answer to "making leadership happen" involves three key areas:

1. DIRECTION: Agreement on what the collective is trying to achieve together

2. ALIGNMENT: Effective coordination and integration of the different aspects of the work so that it fits together inservice of the shared direction.

3. COMMITMENT: People who are making the success of the collective (not just their individual success) a personal priority.

CCL offers this:

These three outcomes – direction, alignment, and commitment (DAC for short) – make it possible for individuals to work together willingly and effectively to realize collective achievements. So when we say making lead- ership happen, we mean making direction, alignment, and commitment happen. In fact, we think the only way to know if leadership has happened is to look for the presence of these three outcomes.


Making_leadership_happenCCL offers a free must-read 11 page "white paper" that answers this question of "What do we mean when we say making leadership happen?"



4 Leadership Messages Your Talent Needs to Hear

My friend Joel Wright at the Center for Creative Leadership has coauthored an article published at entitled "4 Leadership Messages Your Talent Needs to Hear".

Worried about a leadership shortage? Gazing at a thin management pipeline? Wondering how to get the most out of the talent you have?

It’s time to expand and amplify your organization’s leadership by looking beyond your proven superstars and management-track talent.

Young professionals and experienced individual contributors need to be part of the leadership equation, too. These overlooked leaders are the people who are working on project teams, influencing others and taking on ever-larger and more complex assignments.

Consider the role of highly experienced professionals. As individual contributors, they play critical roles as engineers, designers, medical professionals, marketing or logistics experts, and so on. They are expected to take on project-management roles and be key players on cross-functional teams. As their role expands and they increasingly work with others, subject-matter expertise is no longer a guarantee of their success or effectiveness.

Meanwhile, early-career professionals are looking for ways to engage, interact and gain skills. As they navigate their work and your organization, they have many opportunities to lead, even before they step into formal management roles.

Both groups are in the right place to leverage leadership skills, but they need the nod from you. So, here are four messages that you – and your fellow leaders – can send to the skilled experts, up-and-coming professionals and, in fact, the entire organization.

1.    Think “process,” not “position.” Leadership is a process, not a title. It’s about leading with others in ways that establish direction, create alignment and build commitment. Rather than looking for someone else to be a leader, individual contributors need to ask themselves: “What am I bringing to the leadership process?” “How can I better facilitate the process of effective leadership in my group or in my project team?”

2. Understand Your Leadership Brand

3. Take Control

4. Your are Seen, Heard, and Valued

CLICK HERE to read the entire article


Joel Wright works on the Leadership Beyond Boundaries team at the Center for Creative Leadership. Joel works on projects aimed at "democratizing" leadership development by making it more affordable and accessible. As a part of this initiative Joel is championing early/youth leadership development.


To Bring Out The Best In Millennials, Put On Your Coaching Hat

Do you lead a team composed fully or partially with Millennials? If you're like many of the Gen-X or Gen-Y or Baby Boomers you're likely having a difficult time leading them.

From Fast Company Magazine:

In the last five years, a growing number of studies and surveys have highlighted the importance of innovation for the economic health of companies and countries. Perhaps the most significant survey related to innovation was conducted in 2011 by GE, which interviewed a thousand senior business executives in twelve countries. They found that "95% of respondents believe innovation is the main lever for a more competitive national economy and 88% of respondents believe innovation is the best way to create jobs in their country."

Companies need innovators--individuals who willing to take risks and who bring a spark of imagination and initiative to whatever they do. And millennials--because they have grown up as "digital natives" who use technologies to learn, connect, collaborate, and create on a daily basis--are a huge potential talent pool for companies. They are driven to create and to make a difference in the world more than any generation in history. However, as I discovered in researching my new book Creating Innovators, many millennials are very averse to working for large corporations--and many companies, in turn, don't know how to work with this generation.

Ellen Kumata, who is managing director and partner at Cambria Consulting, works closely with senior executives in Fortune 100 companies. She told me that big corporations are "really nervous about the Millennial Generation. They work differently--and are not as focused on individual achievement. They don't want to 'make it' and see themselves in multiple jobs. The real question is, will organizations be able to capture their strengths?"

How do the Millennials work--what motivates them--and what must companies do to attract and retain highly talented twentysomethings?

CLICK HERE to continue reading this article.

Learn how to lead Millennials using the "Leader As Coach" leadership system.



Crazy Busy, Leadership, and Teamwork

One of the challenges of being a team leader is becoming too busy ("crazy busy").

Being crazy busy is actually at epidemic proportions among team leaders.  Patrick Lencioni suggests being crazy busy is a sign of "adrenaline addiction".

Here's a great article from Tim Krieder at the New York Times entitled "The Busy Trap"

If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.”

CLICK HERE to read the entire article.



6 Ways to Ruin a Company Offsite Meeting


Can leading team building exercises (games) ruin your company offsite?  This article from Inc Magazine says yes.

From the article:

Method # 6 for ruining your company offsite:

Include teambuilding exercises when teambuilding isn’t the point. Teambuilding exercises, like ropes courses, puzzles, treasure hunts, etc., were incredibly popular in 90s corporate America.

They’re still fairly popular. After all, who doesn’t want a stronger, more cohesive team?

Still, a one-off teambuilding exercise will not result in a stronger, more cohesive team. Workplace trust is not built on a ropes course. Trust is built when employees know, through long experience, that they can count on each other.

Skip the exercises.  Get down to business instead. Great teams become great teams when they produce great results.

Focus the meeting on how to produce great results, and let your team discover how great it is through their achievements.


I agree with the author. A one-off teambuilding exercise will not result in a stronger, more cohesive team.  However, some organizers like to believe in teambuilding mirages.

Thank you IATF member Mike Cardus for pointing this article out.

Sit down lectures - - Is there a better way to learn teamwork?

Photo from Andrew Scott on Flickr

Remember college classes?  Sitting in a lectures taking notes?  Remember how engaging these lectures were? 

"Sage on the stage" is how this method of instruction is known.

If you're like most people, a good portion of college lectures were terribly boring and did not fully engage you.

Fast forward to - now - you're a teamwork facilitator (coach, trainer, manager, educator, etc.).  How often do you talk at your audience (lecture at them)?

If you to are applying the "sage on the stage" method of teaching then it's likely your audience is walking away from the experience with much less than you think.

Research shows that your students will learn more if they are actively (as in out of their chair) learning.

"According to the best-evidence synthesis, we found strong evidence of a significant positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance."

LESSON:  To be a more effective teamwork facilitator and fully engage your audience learn how to get people up and moving and learning at the same time. 

Systemic Shame -- What does Penn State have to teach us about organizatonal culture?

Brene Brown, Ph.D. has a great post on her blog about what the recent events at Penn State have to teach us about shame and organizational culture.

When the culture of an organization mandates that it is more important to protect the reputation of a system and those in power than it is to protect the basic human dignity of individuals, you can be certain that shame is systemic, money drives ethics, and accountability is dead. This is true in corporations, nonprofits, universities, governments, churches, schools, families, and sports programs. If you think back on any major scandal fueled by cover-ups, you'll see this pattern.

Read the full post HERE.


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From “Stuck” to “Go” -- Unleashing More Team Power in Your Organization with special guests Susan Gerke and David Hutchens


 Have you noticed how everyone in organizations talks about teamwork?

For facilitators who specialize in teamwork, it can be frustrating to encounter misperceptions and biases about team training. (“No, having a Panini bar in the break room is NOT teambuilding!”)

In this free Leadership TeleSeminar, IATF members Susan Gerke and David Hutchens will explore some of the common obstacles and barriers that you probably face in unleashing the power of teams – from cynicism, to time and budget pressures, and more. 

Susan and David will provide you with some tools and strategies that you can put to work in your organization right away.


Susan_gerke Susan Gerke is the president of Gerke Consulting & Development where she designs, customizes and implements leadership and teamwork programs.  Her clients include Bank of the West, BHK Accountancy, City of Anaheim, Human Options, Orange Coast College, Sole Technology, UC Irvine, and Warner Bros.




David_hutchens_jpg David Hutchens, a bestselling author, and organizational learning consultant. He  has worked with IBM, The Coca-Cola Company, Wal-Mart, GE, Nike, and many others.





Together, Susan and David have created GO Team, a library of 18 easy-to-deliver team-training modules that allow you to build your own team training agenda.

This TeleSeminar will be interactive - - you'll be able to talk with our special guest speaker and ask them your questions directly (or send them in as text).  It's "just in time" training and development! 

Dial in, share your experiences… and then start unleashing even more team power in your organization.

Call Details


From “Stuck” to “Go”:  Unleashing More Team Power in Your Organization


Thursday   September 1, 2011


Starts at 1 pm  Eastern (NY City time zone)
runs for 60- 70 minutes


Susan Gerke and David Hutchens, creators of GO Team Resources

Tom Heck, President & Founder of the IATF


CLICK HERE to register. It's FREE. Registration is closed.


Come to the call ready to participate in small group discussions, share ideas and resources, ask questions, answer quick polls, and be fully engaged as we put the newest distance learning telephone conferencing technology to use!


Get the recording HERE free for a limited time.  Soon the recording will be archived in the IATF Members Only Area.

This call was recorded and is available in the IATF Members Only Area. Not yet an IATF member?  Join HERE.


The World Peace Game -- How elementary school teacher John Hunter prepares 4th graders to be world leaders and big-time team players

Have you ever worked with a teacher who was so good at what he did that your life was forever changed for the positive? John Hunter is that kind of teacher.

John Hunter is an elementary school teacher from the Charlottesville, Virginia area where he's been helping students learn important life lessons for 30 years.

John achieved noteriety outside of Charlottesville because of a TED tealk he did in 2011 (video below).  In this presentation John explains how his "World Peace Game" helps 4th grade students learn how to solve complex world problems experientially.  The amazing experiential game he developed allows students to experience life changing lessons spantaneiously (and sometimes surprisingly).  The experience the students have always go further than a classroom lecture can.

John_hunter_sm I had the opportunity to meet John recently (photo of John Hunter and Tom Heck to the left) when a documentary about his work was shown (documentary trailer below).  John is an amazing person and the kind of teacher I wish my kids could spend hours with.

John understands the power of experiential learning.  Through the game he's developed John is able to touch the heart of the student (not just the mind of the student) and thus, the learning experience is deeper and more profound for the student.

To what degree are you using games in your training events?  If you're not using games then you're probably not touching the heart of your participants.

Learn more about the World Peace Game HERE.


How the Common Good Is Transforming Our World

Douglas LaBier, a psychologist and psychotherapist, writes a nice article on the rise of "the common good" and how it will transform our world.

From the article:

By the "common good" I'm referring to a broad evolution beyond values and actions that serve narrow self-interest, and towards those guided by inclusiveness -- supporting well-being, economic success, security, human rights and stewardship of resources for the benefit of all, rather than just for some.

The rise of the common good reflects a sense of global citizenship and an obligation to be a good ancestor to future generations who inhabit this planet. In fact, it embodies behavior and policies that fit the needs for effective functioning -- both personal and political -- in our post-9/11, post-economic meltdown world.

Through our work in the arena of team and leadership development, we our part of this movement to transform the world and enhance the common good.

Read the full article HERE.

"Thank You" Goes a Long Way -- A basic leadership tool that Nancy Lublin argues is all too often underused

FastCompany, one of my favorite magazines, has a wonderful article on the power and importance of saying "Thank you."

From the article:

Thanking people isn't simply a matter of common courtesy. A 10-year study by leadership experts Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton of 200,000 managers and employees showed that saying "thank you" correlates with bigger profits.

Read the full article HERE.

Here's a 3 minute video from TED on the power of saying "Thank you":


Seth Godin: How to create change

Seth Godin is one of my favorite authors.  He's written a lot of great books and his best is TRIBES.

The video below is from Seth's presentation at the TED conference.

Towards the end of the video Seth shares the attributes that leaders have in common:

  • Leaders challenge the status quo.
  • Leaders build a culture. 
  • Leaders are curious.
  • Leaders connect people to each other.
  • Leaders commit.

To be successful in the Inspiration Economy you must be a TRIBE leader.

NY Times: "competitiveness will be more about organizing relationships than amassing force"

In the January 24, 2011 issue of the NY Times, David Brooks shares his thoughts on what it means for the United States to remain competitive in the global economy.  Two of the paragraphs literally jumped off the page for me:

In the 20th century, America was the Big Dog nation. We had more money, more resources and more skilled labor, and we could outcompete our rivals by dominating the inputs and the outputs — by pouring in more talent, greater investments and more resources.

In the 21st century, the U.S. will no longer be the Big Dog. Human capital will be more broadly dispersed. There will be an array of affluent nations fully engaged in the global economy. Therefore, competitiveness will be more about organizing relationships than amassing force. To thrive, America will have to be the crossroads nation where global talent congregates and collaborates.

Brooks is right on target.

What all of us know who work with teams and teach teamwork is that relationships are the foundation of high performing teams.  Relationships make teams and organizations competitive.

Before the world became flat, leaders didn't need to focus on relationships so much.  We were competing with organizations inside our borders.  Organizations could remain competitive simply by buying the latest technology (phone, fax, computer, etc.).  Then the cost of technology dropped so low that a teenager with a $200 netbook could compete with some of the largest companies on the planet.

The landscape has changed.

Money alone no longer gives you the competitive edge.

Here's how you stay competitive in today's flat world:  become masterful at building and leading inspired teams.

We are now in the "inspiration economy" - - our economic success is determined by our ability to (A) be personally inspired and (B) inspire others.

The path to becoming an inspired leader is here:  Leader As Coach Fast Track Program

How to Build a Bulletproof Company Culture -- GET NAKED!

Lencioni_getting_naked In this new and provocative book, Pat unveils a revolutionary approach to client service that yields uncommon levels of trust and loyalty.

In Getting Naked, Pat challenges service providers to be completely transparent and vulnerable with clients in order to overcome the three fears that ultimately sabotage client allegiance.

Written for internal or external consultants, financial advisors or anyone serving long-term clients, Getting Naked will provide powerful, actionable tools to help readers overcome the three fears and gain a real, lasting competitive advantage.


CLICK HERE to read a great article based on this book from INC Magazine entitled "How to Build a Bulletproof Company Culture"

CLICK HERE to access all the free resources provided by the author including the outline of the model, a summary article, author Q&A, brief examples of the Getting Naked Approach.


How learning can more fully support organizational performance

In this video, Dr. Will Thalheimer shares his revolutionary Learning Landscape Model for workplace learning-and-performance professionals.

Based on years of research from preeminent scientific refereed journals on learning, memory, and instruction---and wisdom from the practical crucible of real workplace learning situations---the model helps guide instructional design and work-learning design and evaluation, while simultaneously being a great starting point for conversations with our organizational stakeholders who need to know how learning can more fully support organizational performance.

(thank you Mike Cardus)


5 Steps To Excel At Work

Your job as a manager is getting harder all the time. But your most critical responsibility–especially in today’s world of intensifying competition and economic stress–is how to help your people shine their brightest.

What do you do when your most talented employees fall short of their potential?

How do you inspire a solid contributor to strive for more?

What should you try if a star player falls off their game?

In this video Dr. Edward Hallowell outlines the five steps necessary to excel at work: select, connect, play, grapple and shine.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Dr. Hallowell's new book SHINE.


Teambuilding and "Graphic Facilitation"

During a recent IATF Visiting Faculty Member TeleSeminar, Breah Livolsi Parker of provided live Graphic Facilitation which enhanced the event greatly.  CLICK HERE to view the results of her work.

Graphic Facilitators like Breah help facilitators, trainers, coaches and educators create a deeper, more profound learning experience.  The article below by Geoff Ball will help you understand what Graphic Facilitation is, why it's important to our work with teams, and how you might be able to employ this work with the teams you serve.

Graphic Facilitation Focuses A Group's Thoughts

By Geoff Ball

Did you ever wish there were a better way to capture and organize a group's ideas during a meeting than by taking endless notes on flipcharts?

Well, now there is. It's called "graphic facilitation," and it's growing in use and popularity. In a nutshell, graphic facilitation involves recording and organizing a group's ideas with graphics and icons on large sheets of butcher paper.

The real appeal of graphic facilitation is that it's more than just a fancy way to take notes; it's a technique for helping groups reach consensus and resolve disputes.

In an environmental regulatory agency, for example, employees in the inspector general's office and in one of the regional offices were continually at odds with each other. Over time, the conflict between the two offices became so acrimonious that a number of employees in the inspector general's office came down with stress-related psychosomatic illnesses. To begin resolving the difficulties, a fellow dispute resolution practitioner and I were called in.

The conflict centered around the agency's process for making multi-million dollar investments in infrastructure projects -- projects that typically took nine years from start to finish. The regional office was responsible for doling out money to contractors and overseeing the projects. The inspector general's office was charged with looking for instances of "waste, fraud, and corruption" that occurred in the course of the nine-year process.

Continue reading "Teambuilding and "Graphic Facilitation"" »

Netflix CEO shares secrets for running a successful company

What is your company vacation policy?

Netflix's vacation policy:  Take what you need while getting your job done.

What is your company travel and expense policy?

The travel and expense policy at Netflix is five words long: "act in Netflix's best interests."

Do these Netflix policies sound crazy?  They wouldn't work for most organizations because most organizations aren't managed like Netflix.

The CEO of Netflix is Reed Hastings and he shares his company's "secret sauce" in this must read slide deck (below).

From what I gather from the slide deck, it looks like Hastings management team has adopted the Leader As Coach operating system.

6 Coaching Questions to Ask Your Direct Reports

QUESTION:  What is the # 1 area that leaders consistently score lowest in during a 360 degree feedback assessment?

ANSWER:  "provides effective coaching when needed"

Why do leaders (especially executives) rate so poorly when it comes to coaching?

  1. Knowledge Worker Syndrome -- A "knowledge worker" is, by definition, someone who knows more about what they are doing then their boss does."  How do you coach someone who knows more than you do?
  2. Too Busy -- Leaders are too busy to sit down and coach someone.
  3. Fear of Alienation -- Leaders are worried that they'll coach poorly (or the wrong way) and their direct report will think less of them.

SOLUTION: The Six Question Process developed by Marshall Goldsmith, executive advisor and best-selling author.

Executives who use The Six-Question Process almost always get dramatically higher scores from direct reports.  It's simple and it's fast, easy to implement.

Learn more about the Leader As Coach HERE.

The Value of Play at Work

Over at Presentation Zen, Garr Reynold's awesome blog, there is a GREAT post about the value of play at work. 

Garr shares a fascinating TED video of Tim Brown CEO of Ideo.  In the video you'll see Brown engage the TED audience with experiential learning activities (i.e. games). 

Best of all Garr provides a great summary of the lessons Brown shares in the video (thank you Garr!).

CLICK HERE to view the video and read Garr's summary.

I'm a big believer in using playful activities ("teambuilding games") to fully engage a group and to deepen the learning experience.  It's great to see the CEO of Ideo explain the value of learning through play.

The Power of Experiential Learning -- lessons from Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins produced a series of reality TV shows that were broadcast during the summer of 2010.  There were six episodes but only two were broadcast on TV with the remaining four episodes available online.

The series was called "Breakthrough with Tony Robbins" and the reviews were not so great and the viewer numbers were not high enough for NBC so the show went to the web.

I loved the shows and one of the reasons was because of how Tony integrated experiential learning into each program.  Each episode actually revolved around the experiential learning opportunities.

In an interview Robbins explains why experiential learning is so powerful.

"But if I can get you to experience something you think is impossible that destroys the old belief system, because the belief system is a weak substitute for life experience. I can believe what it’s like to be in China but if I can go to China I have an experience."

"And so what I try to do here with all these people is give them some experiences that cause them to see what they thought was impossible is possible, create that opening and to get them to act on that moment to do something to kind of lock it in place."

I'm a big believer in experiential learning and I teach experientially every chance I get - - with the groups I serve, with my one-on-one coaching clients, and with my children.  Have you seen some of the experiential activities I like to use HERE?

By teaching experientially we help the student experience the learning at a deep level.  Experiential learning engages the mind and the HEART.  People move beyond "beliefs" to a deep "knowing".

The job of the Teamwork Facilitator (coach, manager, supervisor, executive, parent) is to create opportunities for growth and expansion.  Our job is to help people remember who they are and what they are truly capable of:  GREATNESS.  Teaching experientially helps people get their faster and in a way that sticks.

Here is the 43 minute video of one of my favorite episodes from Breakthrough with Tony Robbins.  Watch how Robbins masterfully uses experiential learning to create openings for growth and transformation.

NOTE:  The video is provided through and that site says the Robbins video may be removed at some point in the future (so watch now).

The Universe Rewards Action, Not Thought -- lessons from a game

Russell Bishop, an Executive Coach and Performance Improvement Consultant relates a wonderful lesson he gained by playing a game at a workshop 40 years ago.

LESSON:  The Universe Rewards Action, Not Thought

Bishop explains the game setup...

The puzzle in front of us required a combination of creative thinking and creative action. The exercise was set up so that other participants could provide feedback about problem solving moves but weren't allowed to talk. They could provide feedback in the form of positive encouragement, in this case, applause, when I actually picked up and moved one of the puzzle pieces and did so in a way that indicated a "directionally correct" move.

In this particular puzzle, there were dozens and dozens of possible moves, but only a handful which would lead to a solution -- moves which were directionally correct. I spent a great deal of time thinking about possible solutions while my feedback mechanism, other participants whom the seminar leader referred to as "my universe," remained observant and completely quiet. Absent of action on my part, they had nothing to reward, no feedback to provide.

CLICK HERE to read the entire story (it's great!).

The biggest problem I see with team and leadership development programs is that participants are not held accountable for taking action on a regular basis.

I've discovered that it is ACTION, taking on a regular basis, that distinquishes the true leaders.  Far too many people are satified with enrolling in training and then sitting there passively, not taking any action.  Distance learning is the worst for this because it's so easy to be passive.

I've been teaching the IATF Leader As Coach Fast Track Program since 2008 and I've learned that participants are way more likely to take action when the following is in place:

  1. Public declaration (promise) to the learning community to take action weekly (we call it "playing full out").
  2. Reporting weekly to an assigned study partner.
  3. Reporting weekly to a supervisor at work (or to an official accountability partner).
  4. Completing weekly progress notes which are read by your study partner and the instructor.
  5. One-on-one coaching weekly as needed (personal attention from instructor).
  6. Taking on a "Key Project" to be completed during the program.  This project requires the participant to stretch and grow.  Updates are provided weekly to the instructor, class, study partner, and supervisor.
  7. Instructor communicates weekly with the participant's supervisor, providing updates and answering any questions.

Taking action on a consistent basis is way more likely to happen when the above elements are in place.  When people take consistent action the results are often remarkable. 

How are you supporting those you serve to take action on a consistent basis?

Tips on Boosting Workplace Happiness from Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, a NY Times bestseller and in this article she offersHappy_workplace  some great tips for leaders who want to boost workplace happiness.

The questions Gretchen addresses are:

Q: Why should employers take steps to help make their employees happy?

Q: Why do happy people do better at work?

Q: Is there any correlation between happiness and qualities related to things like leadership, or innovative thinking?

Q: What’s the bottom line on happiness vs. unhappiness for a business?

Q: How specifically can employers help make their employees happier?

CLICK HERE for the full article AND the answers!


The Trouble With Teamwork

Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite business writers.  In his article "The Trouble With Teamwork" found at the Leader To Leader Institute Lencioni shares some valuable insights on how to decide if teamwork is right for your staff / group.

So how do well-intentioned leaders go about deciding if teamwork is right for their staffs? They can start by recognizing that organizational structure is not nearly as important as behavioral willingness.

Most theorists will call for teamwork in organizations that are structured functionally, but may not do so for those that are organized divisionally or geographically.

In other words, if the work can be organized in departments that operate largely independently (with regional territories, distinct product divisions, or separate subsidiaries), then the executives at the top can follow suit and function as what Jon Katzenbach, author of The Wisdom of Teams, describes as “working units.”These are groups made up of individuals who, though friendly and cooperative at times, are not expected to make willing sacrifices to one another to achieve common goals that lead to joint rewards.

However, when executives run an organization that is made up of departments that have structural interdependencies, teamwork is usually presented as the only possible approach for the leadership group. But although this is a sound and reasonable theory when all other factors are considered equal, it is not necessarily advisable in the messy and fallible world of real human beings. Before deciding that teamwork is the answer, ask these questions of yourself and your fellow team members.

  • Can we keep our egos in check?
  • Are we capable of admitting to mistakes,weaknesses, insuffi- cient knowledge? • Can we speak up openly when we disagree?
  • Will we confront behavioral problems directly?
  • Can we put the success of the team or organization over our own?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is “probably not,” then a group of executives should think twice about declaring themselves a team.Why? Because more than structure, it is the willingness of executives to change behavior —starting with the leader of the organization—that should determine whether teamwork is the right answer.

How To Motivate People -- Lessons from Dan Pink

Did you know that rewards for top performers may actually lead to WORSE performance?

If you'd like to see your team become more innovative then don't provide bonuses.

Weird right?

Makes no sense.

To understand this, you've got to read Dan Pink's book "DRIVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us"

Watch the entertaining video below for a few very important lessons.

Lessons about the "Leader As Coach" from the money tree video

The Leader As Coach understands the following distinction: 

discern vs. judge

To discern means to observe information and then draw conclusions based on that information.  Discern is when we are able to pick up every aspect of what is occurring or what we observe without having to judge the person as in compare, diminish, make wrong or feel better than.

A team leader discerns better when

  • his needs are met
  • he doesn't get his energy from the other person (team member, client, etc.)
  • he doesn't feel pressure to perform
  • he is independent

People judge because they're threatened in some way or reminded of a piece of themselves that is yet to be reconciled.  Compassion is also important because it keeps the observation on the discernment side vs. the judgmental side.

NOTE:  One can discern without judging and still have a strong opinion and/or label or peg the person.

Discernment can be an active process vs. just a passive one.  It's the Leader As Coach's job to peg, or discern, who their client (direct report, coworker, team member, etc.) is, where they're at, what's in the way, and what's really going on.  The Leader As Coach who thinks less of a team member, diminishes them or stops standing up or behind them (as in putting them in a small box) is judging, not discerning.

In the video clip below, which do you see happening?  Discerning or judging?

Why a "mastermind" is important to your success as a leader

Jack Canfield, author of "The Success Principles" and co-author of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series says mastermind groups are “one of the most powerful tools ever used by successful people.”

Mastermind groups are used by Anthony Robbins, Mark Victor Hansen, John Assaraf and many others.

Napoleon Hill, author of the famous book Think And Grow Rich, is credited with first describing the "mastermind principle." (see video below)


Mastermind -- Two or more minds working actively together in perfect harmony toward a common definite object.

Mastermind groups are simple and yet profound.  Simple in that the uninitiated might see them as "support groups".  Profound learning and growth is what comes out of them.

If you want to be a strong leader then you need to experience the power of a mastermind group.

I've been a member of several mastermind groups and I facilitate others.  Christine Kane offers these 7 tips for creating a successful mastermind group.

Happiness & Teamwork with NY Times best selling author Gretchen Rubin -- Leadership TeleSeminar Recording

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  US Declaration of Independence

"Whoever is happy will make others happy, too." ~ Mark Twain

Clearly, happiness is important.  We all seek out opportunities to be happy.  Some people appear to be happier than others. 

What about happiness and teamwork?

What is the relationship between the success your team experiences and the level of happiness your team members experience?  Chicken or the egg?  Which comes first?  Team happiness or team success?

Gretchen_rubinWhat is your responsibility as a leader to promote or effect happiness on your team?

What exactly IS happiness?  What does it mean to be happy?  How happy can we expect to be?

  To answer these questions I've invited happiness expert Gretchen Rubin to the IATF.

Gretchen is the author of the NY Times bestseller "The Happiness Project" which I found to be a wonderful book.

The Happiness Project is a memoir of the year Gretchen spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy--from Aristotle to Martin Seligman to Thoreau to Oprah.

“A cross between the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, and seamlessly buttressed by insights from sources as diverse as psychological scientists, novelists, poets, and philosophers, Gretchen Rubin has written a book that readers will revisit again and again as they seek to fulfill their own dreams for happiness.”
— Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want

Wikipedia has an entry on "Happiness At Work" that starts with the following:

Despite a large body of positive psychological research into the relationship between happiness and productivity, happiness at work has traditionally been seen as a potential by-product of positive outcomes at work, rather than a pathway to success in business. However a growing number of scholars, Boehm and Lyubomirsky included, state that it should be viewed as one of the major sources of positive outcomes in the workplace.

Resources mentioned during this TeleSeminar:

Come join us and explore happiness and teamwork on this interactive TeleSeminar with Gretchen!

Call Details


Happiness & Teamwork -- Exploring the connection between happiness and team success


Thursday, September 23, 2010


Starts at 1 pm Eastern (NY City time zone)
runs for 70 minutes


Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project
Tom Heck, President & Founder of the IATF


Come to the call ready to participate in small group discussions, share ideas and resources, ask questions, answer quick polls, and be fully engaged as we put the newest distance learning telephone conferencing technology to use!


For a short time you can download the recording of this call HERE for free.
CLICK HERE to get the recording which is archived in the IATF members only area. Not yet an IATF member?  Join HERE.


CLICK HERE to register.  It's free!  After you register, we'll send you the secret phone number and "PIN".  Registration is closed.

How great leaders inspire action by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?"

His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers -- and as a counterpoint Tivo, which (until a recent court victory that tripled its stock price) appeared to be struggling.

For those of us who sell programs you need to get this piece:

"People don't buy what you do.  They buy why you do it."

This is a TED video.  Watch more HERE.

Free DISC Personal Strengths Profile -- Discover What Drives You (and your team members)

If you want to know the real holdbacks to your success, and how to align with your own true personality traits for not only achievement but a life of fulfillment, take this free 15-minute online assessment right now!

More than two million people have taken this assessment to better understand their behavioral styles and personality types: both organizations that want to best integrate high-performance teams, and individuals who want to identify and maximize their personal strengths.

This is the famous "DISC" profile that many people pay $250 for.  This free assessment is quick and easy to take online and you receive TWO free 21-page reports instantly.  The reports help you understand how to APPLY what you find in your assessment in the real world.  The reports can be used during individual and team coaching sessions.

This free assessment is provided by Tony Robbins. 

CLICK HERE to take the assessment.


How To Build & Lead Inspired Teams with Dr. Lance Secretan -- Leadership TeleSeminar Recording

FACT:  Inspired teams have a stronger bottom line than "average" teams.

No surprises there.

But HOW do you build and lead inspired teams?

This question is best answered by inspiration in the workplace expert Dr. Lance Secretan who is the author of the new best seller "The Spark, The Flame, and the Torch"

Lance_secretan_2 Dr. Secretan's much anticipated new book is broad, effective and extraordinarily inspiring. The Spark, The Flame, and the Torch  is Dr. Secretan's masterwork in which he has taken 35 years of intellectual property—which he calls Higher Ground Leadership—developed through his research, client engagements, coaching and teaching experience, and integrated it into a unified theory of inspired leadership, that offers a comprehensive approach to being an inspiring person and therefore an inspiring leader.

You will learn how to be a transformational leader and how to be the change the world needs for a brighter future. It is a brilliant work that helps leaders:

  • rethink the role of modern organizations
  • reassess our personal contribution
  • develop greater meaning and fulfillment
  • overhaul performance management and coaching practice
  • become clearer about future visioning
  • build stronger personal relationships and teams
  • rethink leadership, and
  • focus on inspiration

Torch_book_icon We all long for greater authenticity, integrity, and inspiration from our corporations and institutions. The Spark, the Flame, and the Torch reveals a leadership path that will forever change your perception of yourself, others, your organization and the world around you—enabling you to live a more effective, purposeful, and inspiring life.

Join us for this inspiring TeleSeminar and gain important lessons for building and leading inspired teams. 

Call Details


How To Build & Lead Inspired Teams with Dr. Lance Secretan


Thursday, June 17, 2010


Starts at 1 pm Eastern (NY City time zone)
runs for 70 minutes


Dr. Lance Secretan, IATF Visiting Faculty Member
Tom Heck, President & Founder of the IATF


Come to the call ready to participate in small group discussions, share ideas and resources, ask questions, answer quick polls, and be fully engaged as we put the newest distance learning telephone conferencing technology to use!


This call was recorded and is available in the IATF Members Only Area HERE.

Non IATF members can get the recording HERE free for a limited time.

CLICK HERE to register. It's free!  After you register, we'll send you the secret phone number and "PIN".  Registration is closed.

How "Linchpins" are Transforming Organizations with Seth Godin -- Leadership TeleSeminar Recording


Seth Godin's new book "Linchpin - Are You Indispensable?" is amazing (215 reviews at amazon with a 4.5/5 avg rating).  If you work in the field of team and leadership development you MUST read this book.  I downloaded the audio version from and I'm on my third listen and each time I get something new.

What is a "Linchpin" and how do they transform teams and organizations?

Some people are valuable, but if you want to be invaluable, or even indispensable, you have to be a linchpin. Linchpins are so vital to the organization that you wouldn’t be able to replace them. They hold it all together.

In TRIBES, Seth encouraged us to lead. In Linchpin he goes further, pleading with the reader to be the indispensable member of a Tribe.

Seth says Linchpins are artists and THE primary attribute of the artist is her ability to do "emotional work". 

Artist Hugh MacLeod comments on "emotional work"...

The only people who have a hope of becoming linchpins in any organization, who have any hope of changing anything for the better in real terms, are those who have the capacity to do “emotional work” at a high level—to be true artists at whatever they set their minds on doing. The guys who just plod around the office corridors, just turning up for their paycheck.... Well, those guys don’t have a prayer, poor things. The world is just too interesting and competitive now.

Seth_godin_photoLinchpins don’t worry about what’s in it for them, but instead focus on giving gifts that change people.

If you are to be successful, if you are going to change the world through your work as a Teamwork Facilitator, you must be doing emotional work and giving gifts.

In this interactive TeleSeminar Seth will help us understand the role of the Linchpin in teams and organizations.  We'll explore how you can cultivate Linchpins on your team and how best to lead them.

 This live TeleSeminar represents an amazing opportunity to spend time with Seth Godin to learn first hand about Linchpins and teamwork so I urge you to come to this call prepared.  Study some of the Linchpin material HERE before the call.

>>> NOTE:  We will likely exceed our phone line capacity for this call so arrive early to secure your spot!

I look forward to having you join us for this call.



Linchpins - Lessons for Teamwork Facilitators


Seth Godin, author of Linchpin - Are You Indispensable? 

Tom Heck, IATF President & Founder


Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Starts at 1 pm Eastern (NY City time zone)

runs for 60 minutes


This call was recorded and the recording is archived in the IATF Members Only Area.


CLICK  HERE to register (it's free).  After you register, we'll send you an email containing the call-in phone number and your "PIN".  REGISTRATION IS CLOSED.

Teams In Transition: 6 Tips to Coach Teams Through the Storm -- Leadership TeleSeminar Recording

Do you know how to coach a team in transition?

The number of teams going through some kind of transition has skyrocketed. 

Do any of these situations sound familiar?
  • The team leader has quit / was replaced / was fired.
  • Personnel on the team has changed.
  • The team has been downsized or eliminated all together.
  • The team must do more with less.
  • The team must move in a new direction (and quickly).

Transition1Coached poorly, a Teamwork Facilitator can actually make things WORSE for a team in transition.

A skilled Teamwork Facilitator on the other hand can help the team move through the transition in a way that creates the greatest possible good for all involved. 

In this TeleSeminar, you’ll learn 6 important coaching tips to help teams move through transition with strength and grace. 

Teams (and individuals) can handle transitions much better when they have a deep level of trust in the team and themselves.  As a special bonus to all who attend, you'll be provided with a free lead-it-yourself trust exercise you can use with your team to explore trust at a deeper level.

Click on the link below to download the handout to be used during class.

Handout is archived in the IATF Members Only Area.  Members CLICK HERE to access the handout.

FREE Teambuilding Game Write-up

Click on the link below to download a free teambuilding game that will help your team explore how it can move through a transition with grace and power.  Free offer has expired.  Members CLICK HERE to access the game write-up.




Teams In Transition:  6 Tips to Coach Teams Through the Storm


Tom Heck, IATF President & Founder


Monday, March 29, 2010


Starts at 1 pm Eastern (NY City time zone)
runs for 55 minutes


Come to the call ready to participate in small group discussions, share ideas and resources, ask questions, answer quick polls, and be fully engaged as we put the newest distance learning telephone conferencing technology to use!


This call was recorded and is now archived in the IATF Members Only Area.


CLICK  HERE to register (it's free).  Registration is closed.

Two Essentials to Help Your Team Do More Great Work with special guest Michael Bungay Stanier -- Leadership TeleSeminar Recording

It will be no surprise to you that teams are a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, they're the most potent force within an organization.

Trying to make change happen just as an individual is difficult. No matter where you sit, you're always a small stone whose ripples on the pond quickly dissipate. And trying to change an organization in a single bound can feel like trying to boil the ocean. A study from the OD Network suggested that only 11% of large-scale change efforts had the impact desired.

Teams, like Goldilocks' baby bear, can be "just right". Small enough to be nimble, large enough to be a sustainable force for change.

On the other hand, teams are generally a mess.

Lack of clarity on where we're heading and why get further complicated by unspoken ripples of power. Most teams are anything but more than the sum of their parts.

Get the team right, and good things happen. (Google has people work entirely in project teams and they seem to be doing OK.)

So what does it take? No doubt you've got a rich toolkit of your own - that's how you come to be reading a blog post at the International Association of Teamwork Facilitators.

Let me offer you another process that may serve. It comes in two parts.

First, have your team talk about the Great Work you want to do. Great Work? The work that's meaningful, the work that inspires and challenges, the work that makes a difference.

Now, both as a team and as individuals you've got limited capacity to do more Great Work. You can't do it all, because you've got everything else you're responsible for. But you can do more than you're doing right now. As a team, define your Great Work Project for the next 90 days. Articulate what it is, what success would look like, what roles you might all play.

That's focus. But focus isn't enough.

You need courage as well. it's courage that will get you started, courage that will have you take the first step and then the next one, courage that will help you face the resistance that will arise.

So ask yourselves, as a team, how courageous will we be.

That can be a conversation around a table or in a pub after work. All good.

And here's a way to facilitate the conversation.

1. Lay out a strip of masking tape in a straight line on the floor. Make it about 10 foot long, longer if you've got a large team.

2. Tell the group that this strip represents a scale from 1 to 11, with 5 being about in the middle. It's your courage-o-meter.

3. Ask the team to stand at the midpoint - about a 5 on the scale. this represents a. Ask the team, if we were to do this project at a 5 on the courage scale, what would we do? (And what else? And what else?) What wouldn't we do? (And what else? And what else?)

4. Now take them down to the bottom end of the scale. At 'one' or 'two'. Ask them the same questions. (You'll most likely hear that there's not much you would do and a great deal you wouldn't.)

5. Now take them to 11. If you don't know that this is a homage to Spinal Tap, stop reading this immediately, rent that movie and watch it, then email me to say how grateful you are. This is the biggest boldest place. The "If you had no fear, what would you do?" place. The "I don't mind if it's a career-limiting move!" place. What would you do here?

6. Now ask them, chose as a team where we want to stand in terms of how courageous we'll be on this project. Give them time to settle. Get curious about what there and not somewhere else. Let this choice become firm.

7. Now you're primed for a discussion. What will we do? What won't we do? How will we slip, and how should we manage that? What support do we need? What else needs to change? Who's the point person for what?

Steve Jobs said this at a commencement speech in 2005:

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle."

He's right. Do more Great Work. Don't settle.

Michael_bungay_stanier_1 Michael Bungay Stanier's new book is Do More Great Work: Stop the busywork and Do_more_great_work start the work that matters. As well as providing 15 practical, facilitator and coach-based exercise to find, start and sustain Great Work, it has guest contributions from people such as Seth Godin, Dave Ulrich and Leo Babauta.  Michael is the Senior Partner of Box of Crayons, a company that helps organizations do less Good Work and more Great Work. Michael is a Visiting Faculty Member at the IATF.

Watch the video clip below to learn what it means to Do More Great Work.