(This post was first published here on October 3, 2016.) 

I’ve served on a whole lot of teams in my life, some great, some not-so-great, and I can say without hesitation that the team I work with at Leading by DESIGN is the best, healthiest, most connected team I’ve worked on. I think the four of us (Rodger, Jeff, Gerald, and me) actually hit all eight characteristics of a great team. (Can you list them by now? If not, here they are once more, with links to each blog post in this series: Common GoalsCommitmentCommunication, TrustTalent, Knowledge (of each other and of self), Grace, and finally Chemistry.)

And let me be clear that as individuals, we’re nothing special (sorry team). We are regular people with our own beliefs, values, gifts and voids, passions, wiring, and a heck of a lot of dysfunction (sorry again, team). But we still manage to live into these characteristics of a great team, and I think that we make something special as a team. 

Building a team with all eight characteristics is no easy feat, and Rodger has had some advantages, including starting his business and the team from scratch, knowing each of us and our DoKnowBe roots for years before inviting us onto the team (and letting us know him and his DoKnowBe roots), and a lengthy onboarding process.

Many of you don’t have those advantages, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great team that lives into the eight characteristics we’ve been exploring over the last few months. There are lots of ways to do this (including the big one: doing the hard things of leadership we talked about in our year together), but today I want to focus on one of the most powerful: team retreats.

In last week’s post, Rodger mentioned that the four of us were taking a day-hike together as a team-building exercise. Just before that hike on Thursday, Jeff and I led cohort 5 in their two-day offsite as part of LEAD 365. So I’m all about retreats right now.

There is something magical that happens at a retreat. You learn more about each other. You get a chance to spend time together away from work. There’s something about sitting around the fireplace at night with your shoes off and a beer that brings us closer together. There’s something about making meals together that breaks down walls we didn’t even know were there.

It would be easy to say that our LbD team doesn’t need retreats or team building. We’re doing so well already and know each other so deeply, why take the time? But here’s the reality: I suspect we know more about each other and are even closer after hiking eight miles along the Manistee River last week. There was no agenda other than when and where to meet and a rough idea of when we’d be finished. And yet, we learned a lot about each other. We had fun together. We came up with new business ideas. All from walking in the woods together.

So if you don’t know where to start, start with a retreat. There is a sacrifice, for sure, of taking the team away for a day or two. But in this case, I’d strongly argue that the return is well worth the investment. If you want to think this through, you know we’re always here for you.

Lead on,

Image by jsalita. Used under CC BY-ND 2.0 license.