After 40-plus years of writing columns, I still find myself amazed by where inspiration comes from. Recently, I was in a discussion with a group of friends and talked about people throughout history whom we each admired.
I couldn’t help myself and steered them into a lighthearted version of a role model exercise I frequently used in workshops. In a nutshell, the idea was to identify someone you admire from history and then list the qualities that made that person special.
After everyone completed their list of qualities, I would ask them to label each an SQ (school quality – learned in a classroom lesson, academic setting, or out of a book) or an IQ (inner quality – learned through life’s lessons).
I took the liberty of asking my friends to label the qualities being discussed accordingly. They labeled nearly every quality an IQ, which is encouraging to most. It means we don’t have to attend elite schools or have advanced degrees to accomplish what we want in life. We all have the ability to embrace the qualities of our role models.
At one point, the retired physician of the group said “I wish I knew about this exercise when I was working. I’d have asked my entire staff, including me, to complete it in writing, hold a meeting to discuss what was uncovered, and then have each of us commit to emulating two to three qualities of the person they admired.”
Herein lies a wonderful team exercise. During your next meeting, walk your team through the following:
- Identify a person you admire from history
- List the qualities that make this person special to you
- Label each quality as either an IQ or SQ
- Select 2-3 qualities you’d like to emulate
- Set a date and time for your follow-up meeting
Everyone must participate, including the team leader. Everyone must share the qualities they want to emulate. Everyone must commit to developing or strengthening these qualities. And everyone must allow themselves to be held accountable – and yes, this includes the team leader.
This can actually be a lot of fun. It can open communication, strengthen teamwork, and build an IQ mindset that’s woven throughout the team. And you’ve probably guessed it, this is a winning team mindset.