GEL's lead facilitator, Jay Palace spends his winter weekends teaching skiing at Northstar in Lake Tahoe. He will be participating in a 'Ask a Ski Instructor' event at the Sports Basement in San Francisco on November 10th from 10am to 2pm. Along with a team from Northstar at Tahoe, Jay will be speaking about stress free family skiing vacations, and how to introduce your kids to the sport.
The event will feature short films and presentations about topics relevant to first timers as well as families who already ski or board together. The team will also be doing short presentations about specific topics, which should lead to good Q & A. Jay and the team will also be providing tailored advice on gear, skiing as a family, and avoiding common stresses of family ski vacations.
If you are interested, sign up on the facebook event page! The Sports Basement will be giving a 10% discount to folks who attend and want to shop for anything while they're there.
Come on down to the Presidio, meet Jay, and get all of your questions answered for a fun and stress-free ski season!
The Latimer Group's Dean Brenner has posted another interesting leadership development podcast encouraging leaders to create a work environment that empowers employees to tackle challenges.
Dean proposes that it all comes down to the choice of words and phrases when communicating with your team. The six most powerful words a leader can say to their team is "I admit I made a mistake." By admitting bad decisions, it encourages others to do the same.
For his other key phrases, listen to his post at the Latimer Group Blog. In case his name sounds familiar, Dean is also the President of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, and helps us deliver Leadership Development programs as part of our sponsorship of the team.
If you have some thoughts about powerful words and phrases that you use to motivate your team, I'd love to hear them. Please leave a comment below.
As a part of my research, I wanted to take a broad look at how companies in the U.S. are spending their training budgets. I came across the work of Bernsin & Associates who publishes a yearly report “The Corporate Learning Factbook 2011: Benchmarks, Trends and Analysis of the U.S. Training Market.” This document has a lot of good data on the trends in corporate training. The study found that the technology sector led the rebound in investment in corporate training spending in 2010, increasing spending on learning and development an average 16 percent more than in the prior year. Increases in spending were also made by healthcare, retail and manufacturing firms while, not surprisingly, banking and government were among the sectors continuing to scale back their programs (average cuts of four to six percent).
I found the following very interesting: Thirty percent of U.S. companies spent money in 2010 on informal learning tools or services, with large companies making some of the biggest investments. In closing I'll highlight this quote from the report that will help guide the next stages of my research: "Companies generally recognize that most learning is informal and learner-initiated. As a result, many forward-thinking L&D [learning and development] organizations are shifting their focus away from company-driven, formal learning programs to support the natural flow of learning across the organization through social and informal learning environments." For more information about the report, a link to the executive summary can be found by clicking here.
Where are the best sources on the web for information on leadership development and experiential learning? What is the current state of the market for these services? I will be looking for answers to these questions as I start my MBA research internship with GEL this semester. As my research progresses, I will be sharing the information I find through this blog with the goal of starting a go-to reference page for leadership and teambuilding focused experiential learning information. I hope to connect with both the providers of these services, and the companies and organizations that engage these services. And along the way, I’ll be posting my findings as a thank you to the people who are helping me with my research.
Quick background on me- I am currently finishing the last semester of my MBA at the University at Buffalo. Prior to that, I received first-hand exposure to the many dynamics of leadership through five years as a congressional aid on Capitol Hill, and from three years as chief of staff to a community college president. I look forward to sharing those experiences, and learning more about leadership education through this blog.
Recently I have been working on a series of sailing team building events in partnership with LivingSocial Adventures. These events utilize GEL’s BoatWorks format which has been customized into a half-day experience for members of the Living Social community, people with a passion for doing fun things with fun people.
On September 17th and 18th, 80 LivingSocial Adventurers joined GEL at J World Annapolis in the first of these exciting programs.
Primarily first-time sailors, the four person teams had a fantastic time both on land and out on the water where they were introduced to sailing. With their coaches providing guidance and advice, our rookie sailors quickly learned the ropes and then attached the BoatWorks Group Challenge as a fleet. The challenge requires each team of four to communicate and collaborate with the other boat-teams as they race the clock through a nautical obstacle course. The gang was a competitive lot, and they knocked it out of the park, putting together, after some fits and starts, some of the top runs we've seen this season.
While we didn't debrief as we would for an intact or newly formed corporate team, lots of folks commented on how much they learned about team work and communication.
You can check out photos from all four sessions on the GEL Facebook Page. In addition a slideshow featuring some of the best photos from the Sunday event has been put together by LivingSocial's professional photographer Michael Procknal.
Another weekend of LivingSocial BoatWorks Adventures will be coming up on October 22 and 23 and there are a few spots reserved for "friends of GEL" who've been wanting to check out the program. Visit the event page, and do give me a shout via phone or email if you'd like to join in the fun.
I bought a stand-up paddle board recently as part of my ongoing effort to pass my Level 3 Ski Instructor Certification Exam. Mike Hafer, the assistant director of the Northstar-at-Tahoe Ski School and a member of the PSIA National Demonstration Team had advised me to spend the summer working on fitness and balance in order to conquer the exam.
Paddling has been fantastic. I have been amazed at how easy it is to learn. I didn’t fall in the water at all, but the best part has been the people I’ve met out on the waters of Richardson Bay.
It seems I’ve been doing some team building of my own, meeting a lot of fellow paddlers and kayakers. One person I met was Leigh Claxton, a local yoga and stand-up paddleboard instructor, who’s created some pretty unique classes combining yogo and paddling. Yes… yoga, on a paddle board!
Leigh and I discussed the adventure racing programs that GEL has done in the past and kicked around ideas for combining paddle boarding, kayaking and hiking with geolocation–style scavenger hunt.
Separately, a good friend of mine who runs a Lululemon store in the East Bay asked me if GEL had any experiential programs at a lower price point than our BoatWorks or RaceWorks sailing programs. A win-win idea was born!
If you're interested in our organizing a program like this for your group visit the Stand Up Paddle Boarding Adventure Races program page and fill out the info request. Or feel free to call or e-mail me directly.
If you caught the sailing bug when you went sailing with me or another member of the GEL sailing team, there are some great opportunities to get out sailing this weekend. It's the Eleventh Annual Summer Sailstice, a celebration of sailing coming up this weekend, June 18/19.
I'll join the organizers in inviting you to sail, race, or cruise and join sailors worldwide during the longest sailing weekend days of the year. Launched in 2001, Summer Sailstice was created as a holiday uniting sailors in a global sailing festival.
To participate, simply sign up at http://www.summersailstice.com and then go sailing on the weekend of June 18/19. The website allows you to post your sailing plans, create and promote a sailing event, invite others or see what other sailors are doing in your area. Host a race, arrange a cruise or just go sailing for the Sailstice holiday to connect sailors across the seven seas.
By signing up, you're also eligible to win prizes donated by Footloose Sailing Yachts, Hunter Marine, West Marine, Hobie, Offshore Sailing, Woodenboat and many of your favorite marine businesses. Prizes include a one-week BVI charter with the Footloose Sailing Charters, a Hobie kayak and over 400 other prizes. Sign up early and plan to get together with friends and family to celebrate life under sail on June 18/19.
We're supporting Sailors for the Sea, an environmental organization enlisting sailors to support healthy oceans. When you sign up, you can 'check the box' to help save the seas as you sail by contributing funds for every mile sailed.
Sail Locally, Celebrate Globally and join the whole world sailing!
On June 2nd, an Economist's Schumpeter blog posting The Angel and the Monster compared and then annointed Lady Gaga and Mother Teresa as "leadership icons."
The subtitle asked readers not to laugh, but it was hard not to, and a bit hard not to cringe as well. Many of the people who commented online expressed some outrage around the comparison, our culture of celebrity worship, and the "leadership industry" itself.
I have to agree, for a couple of reasons.
- The comparison of Lady Gaga to Mother Teresa was weak, citing things like how they both changed their names, both comforted and identified with outsiders, and both built global brands and operations.
- Next to nothing in the posting spoke about how Lady Gaga actually leads her organization, but instead focused on how she's built her personal brand and connected with her fans. In my mind, that's not leadership, it's excellent marketing.
- A focus on personal branding and charisma ignores so many other tools leaders use in the service of the people on their teams. Lady Gaga may be an excellent leader, but how she is with her employees is invisible in the posting.
- The piece also slams Jack Welch as "a hard, old fashioned boss" and suggests that modern workers "might not put up with him", but would love working for someone who wields charisma as well as Gaga.
I've made my affection for Jack Welch known in my post about his take on developing leadership skills
, and I'll continue to describe him as a visionary who invested in, developed and yes, challenged his people to achieve as leaders themselves.
Bottom line? Don't send me any wav files of Jack singing... I'm listening to Lady Gaga on Pandora as I type.
But, no, in spite of what I'd label a "Gaga for Gaga" case study by Jamie Anderson and Jörg Reckhenrich of Antwerp Management School and Martin Kupp of the European School of Management and Technology, I won't be signing up to hear her speak on leadership until the Economist publishes something that gets beyond charisma.
That's my rant for the day, it's time to get back to planning our Taste of BoatWorks leadership development program coming up in Annapolis on June 29th. If you'd like to see one of the ways Jack's company does leadership development and team building, I'd invite you to join us.
I'm just back from Boston where GEL and Courageous Sailing hosted an adventurous group of individuals, all interested in how we use custom sailing programs to develop high performance teamwork and leadership skills.
The group incuded managers and executives from:
- AlphaGraphics Boston
- Bennett & Associates
- Brossi Construction
- Corinthian Events
- Destination Partners
- Harvard Business School's Leadership Initiative
- McGraw Hill
- Rockland Trust
- US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics
I'd love to thank everyone for participating and for some great comments about how BoatWorks compares to more mainstream flavors of team building and management training.
Please do add any more comments or suggestions here, and I'll look forward to working with you all again in Boston soon!
PS... A few photos from the day are now posted near the bottom of the event page. If you have some of your own, please do post them on GEL's Facebook page!
Olympic Match Racing from Match Race Center on Vimeo.
This is a great video showcasing match racing and it graphically demonstrates why I like the sport so much. It's "sailing on steroids" and requires better team work than any other racing format. Because the races are so short, and the battle can be decided in the first four minutes, a team that's not completely in sync will get it's doors blown off.
When you hear skippers talking to the media after a match race, you realize that winning isn't about leadership. Without fail, the helmsperson will mention her team as the primary factor in the victory.
Fund-raising for the campaign, building the team, preparing the boat, organizing practices, and setting goals for the events leading to the Olympics require as much leadership as any other endeavor. But execution on the water depends far less on "real-time" leadership than it does on cohesiveness and a steady flow of information between highly skilled individuals, each in clearly defined roles.
I've heard some skippers say "I don't know why I'm doing the talking... all I do is drive!"