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A team building exercise is an activity that gets people to work together, highlighting strengths and weaknesses, while giving members the opportunity to decide how they’ll respond.

A good team building exercise encourages the group to respond positively. They develop bonds and unite. In the long term, it improves individual motivation and team cooperation.

Developing Leadership & Building Teams

ROTC is the on-campus path to becoming and Army officer. The other two, the United States Military Academy and Officer Candidate School.

At a minimum, we wanted our cadets to demonstrate competence in every area. Ideally, if they were above average, they could lead more easily by setting the example. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to do that in every area, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

The team is only as strong as its weakest link, so it’s most important that your environment encourage everyone to help each another out. When this attitude exists, you learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses and are able to encourage each other to “cooperate and graduate.”

Since fitness is important in the military, physical training (PT) was a great vehicle for developing leadership, as well as encouraging teamwork among our cadets.

Here is a scenario we turned PT into a team building exercise:

Imagine your team going for a 4-mile run. Your goal is to increase each individual’s speed and endurance. Of course, some members will be faster than others.

  • How do you maintain the interest of the top performers without discouraging the weaker runners?

We started with a 1-mile warm-up run. Everyone was together up to a pre-determined point, and then they paired up by abilities. Next, it was an out-and-back run. When they returned to the release point, we finished our run as a single unit, the final mile back to our start point.

A Team Building Exercise

The regrouping process at the end of the “release run” was critical to accomplishing both individual and team goals.

Here’s how we turned this into a team building exercise:

During the out-and-back “release run,” individuals pushed each other to run as far as they could during the allotted time. Some ran as much as two miles, others less, but the key was to push each other to be better and encourage each other along the way.

At the end of the allotted time, everyone returned to the release point. If you returned first, you did not stop running. Instead, we expected the stronger runners to circle back until they found the last person returning, and then match their pace with that individual, to encourage them along.

Team Building Exercise

Developing Leadership and Building Teams

Helping your teammates was not an option. In our environment, we expected our cadets to “cooperate and graduate.”

Everyone knew the culture, that is, the values we were attempting to instill in our future leaders. Faster runners helped slower runners. We always finished together, just like we started.  This had an incredible effect on improving morale, while improving individual motivation and team cooperation.

This team building exercise enabled the strongest runners to encourage their peers instead of letting them find reasons to get discouraged, slow down, or stop. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Depending on your area of strength, roles might be reversed in the next exercise. In this environment, our future leaders learned to be team players as well as team leaders.

Review what opportunities your business can leverage to exploit the benefits of teamwork. When people have the opportunity to contribute and use their strengths to help others, everyone benefits.

Consider implementing programs where different employees have the opportunity to lead in areas where they are strong. It will nurture leadership, develop teamwork, improve morale, and increase the overall performance of your business team.

For more ideas, check out these team building activities and other odd team building exercises.