Getting to Know You

Claire Simms (IL ’15) director, major gifts and board engagement, Fund for the Arts

Teambuilding. Icebreakers. Anyone who has worked in any kind of professional team environment has received an email from leadership saying, “In our first meeting, we’ll explore some teambuilding activities.” Or, “Let’s start off with a few icebreakers.” To some, those phrases inspire excitement, adrenaline, an “awesome, I get to meet new people and learn about them.” To others, it’s more of a “nope, no thank you” reaction. And to many, it’s an “Eh. Ok. Whatever.”

However, even those “awesome, new people” types might not be thrilled about an entire retreat focused around bringing people together. I was squarely in that camp when I learned about the opening event for my Ignite Louisville experience: a two-day retreat where I had to meet new people (in my mind, be “on” all day long for two days), learn about them, spend all my time with them, AND stay in a room with a stranger* overnight. What did this have to do with leadership, exactly?

But, here’s the thing: Leadership Louisville has done this before. And Jeanine, Aaron, Jessica and team really know what they’re doing. Within the first hour we were laughing together. Actually learning each other’s names, and truly getting to know one another. Yes, we played teambuilding games (you wouldn’t believe how quickly you get to know someone when you’re standing two inches from them trying to balance a ball on some strings). We shared meals together, socialized and at the end of the first day the message was clear: leadership is found in small moments. In smiling and making eye contact, and making an effort to show someone that you are happy to know them. Leadership is ensuring a quieter member of the group is given the opportunity to speak up. Leadership is sharing something about yourself with others, and remembering what they share with you. Well played, Ignite. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

*my new friend Candace Weber Shiffman, who is not a stranger anymore, and is lovely

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