Two years ago I had the privilege of facilitating a leadership reset for the top 30 employees of one of my NZ clients. Easily the most memorable offsite I have facilitated, the two days commenced with us being ‘sung’ onto the venue (One of the team members family Marae) by our Maori hosts in a ceremony known as a Powhiri.   Now, as an Aussie that’s not something that happens regularly and it’s pretty rare that I start a session with the Exec team singing a call and answer (a waiata) as part of entering the site. It was a powerful place to start and set the tone for a very different kind of offsite. 

This was an offsite designed among many things, to enable real connection across the leadership group. From the outset there was an understanding that connection beyond the Monday morning pleasantries would strengthen the team and their ability to lead the organisation.

On the first evening as we sat around the large room, sleeping bags off to the side (yes we all slept in the one room!) leaders took part in a Whanaungatanga session, something I have in the past crudely described as an artefact sharing session. The definition of Whanaungatanga is relationship, kinship, sense of family connection – a relationship through shared experiences and working together which provides people with a sense of belonging. It develops as a result of kinship rights and obligations, which also serve to strengthen each member of the kin group.  In this case leaders had a set script or Pepeha to follow before they shared their artefact or Taonga. Each leader shared their mountain, their river, their clan and found connections they didn’t know they had.

It was a powerful process and one I have since adapted in different ways and included in numerous Team Development workshops. 

Each time I watch teams build greater connection with each other I know they are fast tracking trust, the ability and desire for real conversation, collaboration, innovation and respect.

What steps are you taking to build connection in your teams?