When the Team Leader Lets Go

The hallway was dark and narrow as we wound around the inside of a restaurant towards our table. At any given moment, I expected a Ninja to pop out and scare us…after all, we were having dinner at Ninja New York. My dinner experience was one of many unknown moments I had through the day during our Q2 strategy retreat.

At the start of every quarter, our team has a strategy retreat to prep for the next three months. Typically, I’m the one who sets the agenda and activities for the retreat and keeps it a surprise for everyone else. This time, however, Sabina and Melissa were in charge. Despite my general nervousness about not being the one driving the boat, having them develop the agenda for our quarterly retreat was perfect for four main reasons:

Ownership – I was always nervous about how the team would react to each of the activities I set up for them. Since I was the sole organizer, I felt a lot of pressure to make sure everyone had a good time throughout the day. Having the team create and run the retreat day allowed them to have full ownership of the day…and they did.

Bonding – Team culture is big for me. I want to make sure that Swift Kick is a place that people are happy and excited to work at. Melissa is newer to our team, so having her pair up with Sabina for the creative planning allowed them to bond at a deeper level than might not have happened with another project.

Clearing My Plate – I love our quarterly retreats, however the effort needed to make it happen at the level I wanted it to was always taxing on everything else on my plate of tasks. By giving the retreat planning to the team, I was free to work on other things. Also, during the retreat, my mental focus was about being as present as possible at the moment, since I didn’t have to worry about what would happen next.

Creative Release – Swift Kick does a lot of unique and creative things. It’s not always like that, however, and many days the work is about contracts, flights, and HTML. The retreat planning was a way for Sabina and Melissa to flex their creativity muscles and have a ton of fun in the process. In the end, they created a retreat flow that was way more creative than I’ve ever come up with.

As the leader of the team, I feel responsible for owning the bigger-picture projects such as our strategy retreats. However, having Melissa and Sabina plan and run our last retreat, I’ve learned that bringing the team into the big-picture projects pays dividends for their own happiness as well as the company’s success.

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