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Creating Successful Leaders

By Margaret Smith, UXL:

I was surprised to discover two really helpful articles in the recent USA Weekend insert written by Stephanie Weaver ( in my Stillwater Gazette. I decided to share some of the most important ideas with my readers.

The first article deals with building a successful business, and offers the key to this success: Build the perfect team. Does it sound like a great solution? Sure. Does it sound like an easy solution? If you’ve ever worked on a team, then your answer is probably a little less definitive.

Have you ever found yourself assigned to a group project at work, and caught yourself dreading it? This is probably because there’s some work to be done not on your project, but on your team. “Team building is a way to be in control of your life.” says Robyn Benincasa, world champion adventure racer and author of How Winning Works: 8 essential leadership lessons from the toughest teams on earth.

Build your team, and gain control of your life. A rather interesting concept, right? I couldn’t help but recognize the truth behind this insight. The less out of control or imbalanced your team is, the more weight each member has, and the more democratic things become.

Benincasa had a wide variety of experiences to thank for such great advice. She left the corporate world to take on expedition-level competitions that ask participants to hike jungles and mountains, cross lava fields and survive rapids.

Who crosses the finish line first is as much about who you’re with as how you train, she says.

Although you may not be inclined to enter the world of extreme sports in search of wisdom, you may be interested in stealing some of her tricks:

Play to the Strengths
Recognize one another’s strengths and weaknesses (we all have them) and tap into them by divvying out tasks accordingly. Leave egos at the door.

Stop the Finger Pointing
Nothing defeats team spirit more than singling out someone’s flaw. All teams—whether work or personal—are built on respect.  “Lead by strength, not title”, and squash any negative remarks as soon as they come up.

Take Benincasa’s Test
Do you look at people as potential competitors or potential teammates? If you’re trying to compete, flip a mental switch. The world is full of potential teammates.

After reading great teambuilding tips from a revered adventurer, I decided to consider the challenge of teambuilding with my own set of tools and experiences. About a year and a half ago, I discovered a personal assessment tool that’s brought teambuilding to a whole new, easy to understand level:  Insights Discover.

Insights Discovery is a great tool for building team respect and eliminating competition. The program does this by helping teams to recognize the value and skills that each person offers, no matter how different they from you. A well-balance team is the key to seeing all perspectives and getting work done on time with reduced conflict and stress. If you’d like to explore the benefits of Insights for your work group, please contact me today.


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