It took a lot of planning for Phil Steinhauer, CEO of Designscapes Colorado, to pull off the leadership training event for his entire management team one afternoon last December and keep the details of what followed a secret from all Designscapes employees.
Steinhauer maneuvered the leadership training into a team building exercise with a couple surprises that absolutely no one on his entire team knew anything about. He did so with help from outside accomplices.
After the morning of training, Steinhauer sorted his managers into 14 teams of 3 people each. He handed them an envelope which they were not allowed to open and then gave each team a predetermined box of unassembled bicycle parts which had no instructions.
Their task? Put the bicycle together in proper working order. And if your team finishes before others, split up and help other teams figure out how to mount the handlebars.
“I was excited to see how this would go with our staff,” Steinhauer says.“Their reactions would be spontaneous because no one knew what was going to happen!”
Soon, 14 bicycles were assembled from a little bike with training wheels all the way up to a full-sized model. Next, 14 children ages 6 through 13 entered the room and each of the 14 assembly teams opened their envelope. Each contained the name of one of the children and their next task was to match their kid with the bike they had just built.
Just in time for Christmas, the Designscapes team delivered brand new bicycles, along with a helmet and lock to kids in need. One child was overheard saying to another, “See, I told you Santa Claus would come this year.”
Later, his team had a surprise for Steinhauer. Instead of chipping in to buy him a Christmas gift as usual, they did something different. At the holiday party, they shared with Steinhauer how they made donations in his name to Denver Dumb Friends League and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better present and the results of paying it forward,” said Steinhauer.
Note: Bikes were purchased from Giant and because of liability issues, Giant techs checked assembly and confirmed that each bike was built to manufacturer specs and safe.
Would you like to lead your team in paying it forward? Volunteer for one of ALCC’s annual Day of Service Projects in the Northern, Denver or Southern Chapters. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.