Invest In Your Team for a Great 2016

invest-in-teamElite athletes don’t achieve elite status just because they want to. They invest heavily in themselves and focus on how to build performance. It takes years of practice, mentoring and coaching to become great.

So why do we expect business teams to achieve high performance with little to no investment in team building and leadership development?

In a recent article on December 14, 2015 from Forbes on-line titled “Your Single Best Investment for 2016” by Josh Linkner it is pretty clear that investing in leadership and team building is critical for success and this focus will have a solid return on your investment.

”According to a 2011 study by CEB, “Companies that invest in leadership development have outperformed others by 15 times over the last 60 years.” Businesses invest countless resources in technology, facilities, and compliance, yet the most powerful investment of all – investing to elevate team performance – is often underfunded or cut altogether. Ironically, companies that prioritize leadership development can enjoy enormous boosts in both revenue and productivity.”

It has been said that the front line produces the bottom line. By this account team performance is critical. Companies must focus on and build high performance teams. The responsibility to build these high performance teams falls upon the leader and yet so often the leader is not prepared to and does not know how to guide their team towards high performance.

Just because the team members have the experience, knowledge and tools to do the job does not mean they will do it well. Many teams are good, but few are great.

Leaders are often promoted because of their success as a team member. They are often very talented at the task required to be successful in whatever line of business they are in. Once in a leadership position however, the skills that got them there are often no longer required and a whole new set of people skills are essential. Somehow we just expect this transformation to come along with the title and the new office. But without guidance most leaders fall short in their role as team builders.

Building a high performance team is a very deliberate process and requires both formal and informal team building as well as internal and external resources.

To build a high performance team a leader must first start with a vision of what high performance is given the goals and roles for the team. As with any organizational vision, this team vision states the end goal and provides direction for decisions, resource allocation, training, and so much more. Once the vision has been defined the leader must set about to build the skills and dynamics within the team to bring this vision to life. And in the process the leader must build in frequent check in points to reflect upon the progress of the team and make any fine tune adjustments required.

At Summit Team Building we call this the “Deliberate Success Model” and we use it to help leaders learn how to be a great leader and to build high performance teams. At Summit Team Building we deliver leadership development workshops that focus on building a high performance team, emotional intelligence, culture development, building trust, communicating effectively, leading change, managing conflict, and 360 leadership development.

Invest in your teams with one of our team development workshops or our team building programs and your leaders with a leadership development workshop and you are setting your company up for a great 2016.


True Patriot Love Expedition Team Returns from Antarctica


Wounded Canadian soldiers team up with business leaders to battle the coldest continent in the world

In January of 2016 nine ill and injured soldiers, seventeen Canadian business leaders, one team doctor, one research specialist and one extreme photographer embarked on an challenging journey to summit Vinson Massif – the highest peak in Antarctica and one of the world’s Seven Summits.

As with previous TPL Expeditions – to the Himalayas in 2012 and the North Pole in 2014 – the purpose of this journey was to bring attention to the challenges that face members of the Canadian Armed Forces, their families and Canada’s veterans each day. By bringing these challenges into the spotlight, True Patriot Love strives to provide inspiration to those facing these issues every day, and also garner financial support and awareness from Canadians across the country.


Scott Kress, Summit Team Building President, was one of the guides for the expedition and a member of the True Patriot Love Expedition Leadership Team. Scott’s role was as a mountain guide and to help the team prepare for the expedition technically and physically and also to help the team develop into a high performance unit.

Beginning with a training camp on the Athabasca Glacier in August and continuing with weekend training session the team focused not only on the ph`ysical fitness and technical skills necessary to climb the mountain, but also on interpersonal interactions and team dynamics. Ask any experienced mountaineer and they will tell you that communication, trust, decision making, and other team interaction skills are critical to be successful on any climb. A focus on team building does not guarantee you will make it to the summit, but if you have a dysfunction team you have little to no chance of making it to the top.

It has been said that poor culture will eat great strategy for breakfast, and it will consume tools and technology by lunch. Without a focus on team building ad team dynamics you cannot take advantage of strategy and technology and you will not likely hit your business targets.

Along with focusing on team building, Scott worked with the soldier participants on personal development through the use of the MHS EQi 2.0 emotional intelligence assessment. Each soldier completed the assessment and received their report along with a copy of the book “The EQ Edge”. From here each soldier had a debrief session in which they reviewed their report and developed a personal growth plan.

Scott also connected each soldier with one of the civilian business leaders in a mentorship relationship.

It is through this intense focus on all aspects of the individual and the team that we hoped to give our team the best chance of success possible.

On January 20 2016 20 of the 26 expedition members and 5 of the 6 guides made it to the summit of Mount Vinson. The expedition started out well and continued so thanks to the teams preparation, the focus on team building and a dose of good weather.

After the 5 hour flight from Chile to Antarctica the team made their way to Mount Vinson base camp in Twin Otter ski planes. After a day of rest the team started up the mountain. The skies started blue, there was a medium breeze blowing and the temperature was around -10 Celsius.

After two days the team made it to low camp. It was here that the skies opened up and the snow came down. Antarctica is technically a desert and sees very little precipitation. Close to 5 years worth of snow fell in 24 hours and this slowed the team for a couple of days.

Once the snow stopped and had a chance to settle the team hefted extremely heavy packs and began the 8 hour climb to high camp. This was an exhausting day but all did well.

On January 17 the team was up early and set out for the summit. This long 12 hour day consists of 18km of walking with nearly 4000-feet of vertical gain to the summit. It is a big day! The climb went well until the summit ridge where we were blasted with 50 know winds and the view was obscured by clouds. We had made it to the top.

Our true Patriot Love expedition was the largest ever to attempt to climb Mount Vinson and we had the largest number of people from one expedition to summit in a single day. Overall a very successful expedition plus we raised over $2.2 million dollars for the charity.

To ready more about the expedition in detail check out the Summit Team building expedition blog.

Praise for the Motivational Speaker

invest-in-teamAlmost every organization of any size will, at some time, seek a motivational speaker to get people ‘re-excited’ about the work they do. A great motivational speaker can walk into a ballroom of disenchanted or bored employees and, in less than an hour, fill it with hope and inspiration. When it works, it’s brilliant. And it says a lot about human nature.

In contrast to an organization’s leaders, the great motivational speaker needs to change nothing in the external environment of the employees. No new job descriptions, no new benefits, no pay raises, bonuses, or perks. The day to day tasks remain the same. What the motivational speaker changes is the way the employees see themselves in relation to their ‘same old’ world. It’s a collective internal shift of perspectives, sometimes made in hundreds of people at once, using the power of the personal story.

The successful motivational speaker can perform this task so well for a number of reasons. First, theirs is a new story of loss, struggle and success that resonates with the listener on an emotional level. You don’t have to be a climber of rock and ice to appreciate the hardships of an Everest climb in a metaphorical sense. You may have never set foot on a mountain but you have struggled. Epic ally, no doubt. And, you have experienced the exhilaration of success. Somewhere deep inside, you want to feel that success again.

Secondly, the most powerful motivational speaker comes into the room with a fresh objectivity that someone ‘inside’ the organization usually cannot duplicate. Yes, there are occasions that a visionary CEO can, in fact must, deliver a compelling message and light a fire. But a good motivational speaker brings new meaning that supports and magnifies that message to make it even more powerful. People come together around a new story of success that now binds them together to face new challenges.

At Summit Team Building, Scott Kress is one such motivational speaker. Scott is the founder of Summit and has been teaching leadership and team development for close to 25 years. Scott has a Masters in Leadership and Training from Royal Roads University and has taught leadership and team development classes at the Rotman School of Management, the Odette School of Business and the University of Edinburgh. Scott is also a mountaineer and mountain guide and has scaled mountains throughout the world including Mount Everest.

Scott’s stories of his climbs to the highest points on the planet are what make his presentation engaging for your audience and his ability to tie in the leadership and team lessons is what makes it valuable to each individual and to the organization.

There is one thing in common in all mountaineering endeavors and that s teamwork. In Scott’s book “Learning in Thin Air” he describes how critical teamwork is and demonstrates what the outcome is when a group of individuals high performers fails to work together as a team.

Give Summit a call to learn more about having Scott to your next conference as a motivational speaker.


Leadership Training as a Priority

invest-in-teamIs leadership training important? I am often asked if great leaders are born or are they trained to be that way. I believe the answer is a little of both. There are certain leadership traits, qualities and characteristics we are born with and there are others that are learned and refined over the years. When you focus on leadership training you are building on these natural skills and augmenting these with new and different leadership skills.

Great companies, and those that strive to be great, invest in leadership training.   A recent survey of more than 500 executives (Measuring the ROI of Leadership Development and Strategy), indicated that 27 % of those who said their company was winning in the marketplace, attributed the success to great leadership. Leadership training appears to be a significant leverage point for organizational success. Yet how many companies view it as a priority?

At Summit Team Building we see leadership training as a deliberate process that takes into account the desired vision of great leadership, including behaviors and skills, and an honest assessment of the current state of the leader(s). When those two things are known, then a deliberate leadership training plan can address the gap. If leadership training is to be a priority, an organization must pay attention to all the parts: make a plan, revisit the plan frequently and invest in delivery.

Many larger organizations, particularly public institutions, have developed detailed leadership competency models. They have defined what great leadership looks like at each level within their organizations. This is akin to having a “leadership vision”. It is an important first step because “one size does not fit all”. Some organizations need, for example, leaders who can operate effectively from a base of influence rather than power.

It is also critical in any leadership training program to assess the current, relevant competencies of the leaders. Summit team Building administers a wide variety of self- and 360- assessments such as the EQi 2.0, MBTI, Strength Deployment Inventory, Strengths finder 2.0 and many more.

Assessments should be integrated with action planning and skill development in identified areas. And these should not be limited to the top executives in a company. Mid-managers and supervisors inevitably leave their fingerprints all over any decisions from the top. Leadership training investments should also target them.

In today’s work environment your people are your competitive advantage. And therefore, teamwork is critical. Teamwork is the single most important factor in organizational success. It is what separates the good from the great. Stephen Covey was quoted saying that is it the “front line that produces the bottom line”. If all this is true than it is critical you focus on leadership training as it is the leaders that train, develop, and mentor your groups of people into powerful high performance teams.

At Summit Team Building we have many different options to offer as you strive to enhance the abilities of your organizations leaders. Give us a call to discuss your needs and to see what we can offer for your leadership training needs.

Building relationships with Team Building activities

invest-in-teamCountless studies have lauded the value and even the necessity of team building activities. Team building activities have been linked to increased engagement, enhanced communication, greater trust, stronger company loyalty, fewer conflicts, easier decision making and so much more. In today’s work environment it is not a question of if you will engage in team building activities, but when and how often you will do it.

Team building activities are a simple way for people to build positive relationships in the workplace. In carefully-structured team building activities, people share success, have fun, and begin (or continue) to build a common, positive history together. They connect with each other.

Team building activities don’t need to be sophisticated … and certainly shouldn’t be hokey … but they must promote positive social interaction and be satisfying for the participants, while keeping them in an emotionally “safe place”. Keeping it emotionally safe is what makes the difference between team building activities that elicit eye rolls and those that result in full participation, smiles and laughter.

What feels emotionally safe to one person may feel completely outside the comfort zone of another. It’s important to know the individuals on your team and to ensure that, in any team building activity you select, people can choose how to participate.


Here are a few things that we, at Summit Team Building, consider in our approach to team building activities:

  • At Summit, we first and foremost want to ensure the team building activity you select is appropriate for your audience. We will want to talk with you about learning goals and the level of physical activity you feel is appropriate for your group.
  • At Summit, when a particular team building activity has a physical component, we structure the team building activities so that they offer a number of roles with varying degrees of physical activity and personal “exposure”. Many quiet people will be quite happy to participate in the background and let the extroverts go wild if they know they won’t be pressured to do the same.
  • AT Summit, when we organize team building activities for large groups of people (say, several hundred people at a time) we make sure people interact in small sub-groups for large parts of the program. This allows the introverts to develop a few deeper, more comfortable relationships away from the chaos.
  • At Summit, we know that lightly physical team-building activities can work very well. But once again, we’re all adults now, not kids. We always make sure that success does not require the fitness of an Olympian.
  • And lastly, we also know that people like to contribute to society. We have designed several team building activities that focus on the act of “giving back”, locally and internationally.


When you are planning your next corporate conference and are looking for team building options keep these thoughts in mind. You will end up with a much more balanced team building activity and one that all participants will be happy to participate in and will gain value from.

Top notch team building activities bring people together for a few hours of fun and result in lasting relationships. And that’s priceless.