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Key elements to successful team events

A friend of mine once told me that “people only change behaviour when they win” and I do believe there is truth in that.  It is so easy to give up trying something new if at first you don’t succeed.  Neuroscience tells us that it take 10,000 practices to form a new habit, allowing the old habit to slowly die.  So how can positive change work in groups where each person has to believe they can win before committing to change? Each person will have their own fears and insecurities and will potentially avoid changing the way they do things, so galvanising a group becomes more difficult. The leader’s role and their role modelling are pivotal to changing a group’s thinking and attitude.

 Key elements to successful team events

If we want our team events to invoke positive feelings  which drive the team to deliver impactful work, it's down to us to lead them well!


My recent research into neuroscience gives us lots of clues as to what a leader can practically do to create a positive viral effect on the team and deliver high impact team events which energises them to action. 

  1. Paying attention. Often as people are speaking we start to form what we are going to say next and stop listening.  We interrupt before the person has stopped speaking because our point is so much more important! Fully focusing on the individual with undivided attention, believing they have a right to their point of view, will allow the person to feel that they have been heard.  Eye contact, smiling encouragingly and nodding all release oxytocin in the brain, making the person feel safe.  Prince Charles or Bill Clinton are really skilled in these behaviours and people often say that they were made to feel they were the only person in the room for that fleeting moment due to the undivided attention they were given.  That warm feeling lasts for many hours after the interaction. Imagine the energy this could create in a group if everyone felt they were really heard!
  2. Allowing everyone to speak. Nancy Kline, a revered psychologist, states people do not ‘arrive’ at meetings until they are heard.  Giving everyone air time in a structured way builds confidence and helps people feel valued and satisfies a need to belong.  They are more likely to contribute more regularly as a result. Often the loudest, extroverted voices are heard but this can lead to “groupthink” and real emergent and exciting thinking is lost.
  3. Generating a positive climate in order to deliver a high impact team event. People often express the fact that they only get feedback when something is wrong.  We now know from neuroscience research that people need 3 positive feelings for each negative feeling to be a fully functioning being.  Consider re-balancing the amount of positive feedback a leader provides to their team.  How often do leaders adopt a “critical parent” stance and how powerful it could be if the conversations were more on an encouraging adult footing?
  4. Responding quickly. How often do we get excited about possibilities in meetings and then nothing is done afterwards, and the energy dies rapidly. Running powerful team events means keeping that energy going. The leader can build on the energy in the group by quickly allocating resources and re-align group objectives.  They can ride the crest of the wave if they drive and maintain the focus from the meeting and demonstrate to others that this is important. It demonstrates personal commitment and the team are likely to follow suit.

How to run a great team event

Sue Blight is an accredited Executive Coach through Henley Business School with extensive experience as a Management Trainer and Change Facilitator.

Sue specialises in psychometric assessment and delivers performance support for individuals and teams.


As we saw in the case study people feel they can really make a difference if the leader shapes the climate and demonstrates that s/he feels that everyone is important.  Unconscious insecurities can be reduced and a sense of belonging in a group can thrive. 

I leave you with this consideration:-

“When was the last time you really paid attention to another person, without interrupting and really focusing on what they are saying?”  It is harder than you think!


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