Does your team allow expertise to thrive?

Does your leadership allow space for the expertise of others to thrive?

Take a moment to think about your worst team experience. Write down some words that describe what it was like to be a part of that team.

What was the impact on you, the team, the work you were doing?

Now think about the best team experience you have had. Write down the words that describe what it was like to be a part of this team. 

When I do this with the teams I work with there are no surprises about the words and feelings that emerge, however there are always many insights and AHA moments.

Earlier this year I had the privilege of being part of an incredible team of professionals, my best team experience. It provided adventure, travel to the surreal and beautiful landscape of Antarctica, plus an epic experience of 12 meter waves and 32 degree rolls as we crossed the Drake Passage. See the video below to share our experience of the Drake (video supplied by Dr Lesley Sefcik - HB3 Participant).

The most satisfying part of this adventure was working with the remarkable and talented professionals that we were privileged to support, the participants of Homeward Bound #3'Homeward Bound is a ground-breaking leadership initiative, set against the backdrop of Antarctica, which aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in making decisions that shape our planet'.

What made all of this possible was the incredible team of experts and some of the most generous people I have ever had the pleasure to meet, work with and to now call friends.

Team #HB3 was a team that came together for a single purpose: To deliver the program objectives of Homeward Bound Projects and to support the participants who had invested to be a part of this remarkable program.

Onboard Team HB3

The full on-board team came together in person as an intact team for the first time in Ushuaia, Argentina. Until that moment we worked via video calls and emails.

Together we worked hard, usually 15 - 16 hour days with very little down time. On paper it looks unsustainable, and long term it would be. However for the month in Antarctica, the culmination of a 12 month program it felt very achievable every day. 

What made this a best team experience was:

  • We all had the space to deliver on our expertise

  • We worked in a totally supportive environment where bringing our best selves and our best work was demanded and needed. All held in a container of support, love & commitment.

  • We had each other’s back all day every day. 

  • There was space to make mistakes and learn from them

  • Diverse views were listened to. All voices in our team system were heard

  • We disagreed regularly and constructively resulting in diverse views coming from different perspectives and expertise. This generated some creative friction, perspective and the ability to synthesise ideas. When we are tired and not at our best there was loving support to help us get back to a constructive space all done without judgement.

  • Unshakable commitment. We all wanted to be there doing this work in this team. All team members had full time careers and other commitments that we juggled to enable us to dedicate time for our commitment to Homeward Bound Projects.

  • We understood our purpose, our role and our responsibilities. We understood that this work wasn’t about any of us individually. It was about what we did collectively in service of the work we were doing.

  • We got a lot done. We were productive.

  • We laughed a lot. We were engaged.

Teams are a living breathing entity made up of an ecosystem of individuals that serve the collective vision and outcomes. Teams exist for one reason and one reason only, to achieve together what cannot be achieved alone.

Reflect on your worst and best team experiences, how do these experiences inform how you show up as a leader in your team?

Thank you to all #HB3 team members and participants for this remarkable adventure. My deep gratitude to my fellow on board #HB3 team members, the full cast of #HB3 team members and all of the 79 talented professionals who participated and who made #HB3 so remarkable.

The on-Board Team of #HB3: Fabian DattnerDeborah O’ConnellMichelle CrouchDr Katherine DuncanSharon RobinsonChristiana FigueresKylie LewisFern HamesSophie Adams.

Pollyanna Lenkic