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Leadership & Team Building: Listening and Success

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

"I never thought in terms of being a leader. I thought very simply about helping people." - John Hume

Working together often has very rudimentary problems that can eventually be worked out quickly and comfortably. However, there are also times when the team leader must make decisions that will not be extremely popular, which may cause negative repercussions among the other team members.

One method popularly recommended being used when this occurs is empathetic listening. Studies have shown that this method has proven worth many a time for its effectiveness and swiftness.

You may be able to find the most effective team-building exercises, but still, do not get your team to work together. In this chapter, we look at the tips that can help build a team successfully.

  • As a team leader, how are you helping your team in the team-building program?
  • Is everyone on the team committed to the process?
  • Do the team members know why they need the team building program?

You cannot just decide to go for team building without considering a few factors. This is not something that you embark on blindly.

Having Success

Empathetic listening is a technique adopted to help an individual manage and avoid disruptive and harmful behavioral patterns from becoming a problem within the team working towards completing a project.

This technique can also be used in other circumstances where there is a need to hear and understand all views and thoughts on any situation or circumstance.

Empathy listening exercises the ability to supply the platform for the speaker to enjoy undivided attention, as distractions can be considered disrespectful to the speaker.

It also encourages both parties to be completely committed to solving the perceived problem at the time. Being non-judgmental is also another essential criterion.

Embarking on the exercise with preconceived notions can only distort any effort to solve the problem. Making a conscious effort not to minimize or trivialize the speakers' concerns.

Making observations from the visual impacts shown when the speaker is expressing themself is another form of gaining insight into how the speaker is affected by the perceived problem. The emotions expressed during the exercise can help define the method chosen to defuse or address the issue.

Offering verbal solutions before the speaker explains their perspective is also not encouraged; however, asking clarifying questions may be welcomed.

Goals and Objectives

Team building exercises will not work if the team has not set the goals and aims they want to meet. Without an unobstructed vision, the whole exercise will be futile, and you will not be able to achieve anything. It would help if you clearly defined the goals of the team.

These goals should not necessarily be the organizational goals only. You can incorporate your own team’s organization. For instance, if you are on a sales department team, you may decide to have plans for your sales team. Maybe you can set new targets or aim to reach new markets. This is what will keep all members of the team focused.

Analysis of Successes and Failures

A team-building consultant will take the time to examine how the team works before suggesting the best team-building exercises. However, for the activities to be efficient, the team must do their self-examination.

Examine the past successes and failures of the team. Find what needs to be worked on or improved and use this as a guideline. You can also have team members anonymously write down issues they may have within the team. This will help keep the team building more focused.


Before embarking on team building, there should be a commitment from the team members. Most teams typically go out of town or to other locations to concentrate on the exercises. During this time, they need to be focused only on the task at hand and not on any other issues.

The team members should commit their time and effort. They should be willing to take part in team building. This is not something that a team leader can push people to do. Commitment is very vital for the success of the exercises.

Communication and Education

To be able to build any successful team, there should be communication. This should not be an ambush of any sort. It would help if you let your team members know exactly what is planned. Getting the team involved is especially important in making the exercises effective.

You should also take the time and educate the team on the importance of the exercises. This will help them be more serious and committed. Point out the importance of teamwork, which can be achieved if the team learns how to work together. Do not assume that everyone knows this. Some so many people may firmly be pro-individualism.

Team Charters

Every team needs to have a charter. This should supply a guideline for every team member's behavior and code of conduct. Even try to embark on team building if you do not have this charter. This sets the whole basis for teamwork and is especially important.


Everyone should lay out their expectations for the exercise.

You can also involve the team members in clearly defining this. It is not enough to have goals for the team. It is also good that you have short-term goals for the team-building exercises. You can also involve the team members in clearly defining this. You can also affect the team members in clearly determining this. You can also apply the team members in clearly defining this. His will help you focus. It will also help in evaluating just how effective the whole program is. The expectations can also be a guideline for selecting the right team-building exercises.


Leadership is critical for any team building to succeed. Therefore, the leaders should take part in all the exercises actively. The leader should also take the initiative and the role of setting examples for everyone. An absentee leader can make the whole exercise flop. It may be perceived as a lack of interest on their part. In addition, the team cannot learn effectively.

The team leader must be involved in the team, especially during the team-building exercises.

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