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 exercise with teams I work with there are no surprises about the words and feelings that emerge.  

I reflected on my own best and worst team experiences as I wrote this.  Last June I was invited to join an amazing team to work on a global initiative which is doing incredible work in the world. Resulting in the privilege of being part of an incredible team of professionals, my best team experience. 

It provided adventure, learning and growth, stretch opportunities and travel to the surreal and beautiful landscape of Antarctica, 12-meter waves and 32-degree rolls as we crossed the Drake Passage that sits between Argentina and Antarctica. 

(video supplied by Dr Lesley Sefcik – HB3 Participant).

The most remarkable part of this adventure was the people we were privileged to support, the participants of Homeward Bound #3

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

HB3 onboard faculty back row, from left: Dr Katherine Duncan, Michelle Crouch,  Dr Sophie Adams, Sharon Robinson, Kylie Lewis, Fabian Dattner
Front row, from left: Pollyanna Lenkic, Fern Hames, Christiana Figueres,  Dr Deb O’Connell

The full onboard team came together in person as an intact team for the first time in Ushuaia, Argentina. Until that moment we worked via video calls, emails, weekend retreats around our full-time commitments elsewhere. 

From the moment we landed in Argentina we worked hard, usually 15 – 16 hour days with very little downtime.  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, an 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. Demonstrated by the evidenced consistent behaviours we showed towards each other
  • There was space to make mistakes and learn from them, mistakes were called out without judgement or blame
  • 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
  • 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 
  • We understood our purpose, our role and our responsibilities and 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.
  • We played, we danced. 

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 team #HB3 team members and participants for this remarkable adventure.  And deep gratitude to my fellow on board #HB3 team members: Team #HB4 your adventures await you, savour every moment.