Get Real in Your Underwear

Abundance Collaboration Teamwork


Key Point: If you are on a team, you need to get out of your comfort zone to really learn about each other. This accelerates team building. I went to Korea on a visit where we were putting a consortium together to try and win a lucrative multimedia project with a very large telecommunications company. The day we arrived, our Korean hosts took us to a Korean bathhouse. Nothing like getting naked in from of each other to build a consortium. We ended the day consuming copious amounts of bulgogi, joy inducing beverages, and of course karaoke, where our Korean hosts sang Sinatra perfectly. The North American’s rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody became the reference for belly laughs the entire trip.

When I was with a large telecommunications company in the early 90’s, we went to Japan for three weeks. Wow. Many in the group had never been out of the U.S., let alone to Asia. If you want to find out how people manage change and what their Emotional Quotient is, try sitting in small chairs for eight hours, day after day, eating daily lunch out of Bento Boxes, navigating another language, currency and more. Some people flourish… Others struggle. But the real person becomes evident when far away from comfortable corporate props. 

Recently, I had the experience of going river rafting and zip lining with a combination of board members and executives. We didn’t anticipate changing into wetsuits in front of each other and the underwear jokes and good-natured ribbing was hilarious. The CEO had to be rescued after he fell out of our raft and we encouraged each other to take the plunge off the zip platform. These experiences gave us a unique reference for our role in collective governance of a public company. This last week I had the pleasure of being on a bus for a week with my executive colleagues. The fun we had teasing each other about our choice of music, eating trashy snacks, driving through a vicious thunder storm, nick-naming the bus driver, etc… Well, the experience and connection is priceless. We will be a stronger team because of the bus trip.

Character Moves:

  1. Remember that becoming a team doesn’t just happen. You have to work at it. And while some of it happens naturally in the office, a way to reinforce or accelerate team work is to participate in something that takes all members out of their comfort zone… Where we all have to really BE together.
  2. Team building is an investment. You have to want to care and learn about each other or it doesn’t get you much. The mindset and intent of the participants to better understand and learn is much more important than the “team event” itself. If the mindset is right, picking up litter together in a local park can be as good or better than climbing an exotic mountain in a foreign country.
  3. Self-awareness is very important in team building. The best way to contribute to your teammates is to be aware of how and where you add value to the group. Learn about your colleagues in the same regard.
  4. Be prepared to be vulnerable and let the authentic you emerge. That takes courage, but that is how deeply connected teams emerge.

Team building (in your underwear) in the Triangle,