“Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play as a team is another story.”Casey Stengel
Imagine the manager of the New York Yankees telling his baseball team that they may not communicate during a game. That includes talking, hand signals, or other gestures. How effective will the team be without communication and team work? The answer is not very effective. Communication is key in sports, and it is also key in delivering your message as senior military spouses. Likewise, team building is another key component of effective military spouses’ groups.
Senior military spouse leaders must be able to effectively communicate. Ensure your message is clear and geared toward your audience. For example, if you are speaking with local residents with no affiliation to the military, be careful not to use military jargon and acronyms. The same jargon and acronyms, however, will be more easily understood when speaking with a group of military spouses, unless of course they are newer spouses. The key is always knowing your audience.
While communication includes verbal, it also includes non-verbal. Remember that body language can detract from your message, so be cognizant of your non-verbal gestures. We all have listened to people speak while they are fidgeting with their hands or holding a pen and clicking it, so be careful to avoid these distractors while speaking.
Effective internal communication is also important for groups of military spouses.
One method of ensuring effective communication is through team building to establish connections and trust within the team. Working together as a team and effectively communicating will build a strong, motivated team with a solid bond. Team building gives spouses the opportunity to learn from each other.
There are many types of team building activities, including games and social gatherings.
One way to start this before the team members know each other well is through the use of icebreakers. Icebreakers give spouses the chance to learn about each other and find things they have in common. There are many types of icebreakers, so check the Internet for a few that sound interesting to you. There are also games that build camaraderie. The focus of these games is on working together and bonding. Team scavenger hunts and escape rooms, for example, require teams to work together for a common cause.
Social gatherings are also an effective way to build a team.
For example, consider going to a place that has a karaoke machine. Encourage everyone to participate, as this will bring a closeness and bond among the group. Another type of social gathering is through physical activity. If you are stationed in Hawaii, for example, schedule a non-strenuous hike for the group. Whatever you schedule, just remember that all members of the group need to complete it, as the purpose of team building is to include all members and ensure they all benefit from the activity. As a leader, ensure that the same small groups do not always hang out together so there is a mix and the entire group bonds. You know the group, so ensure you choose an activity that everybody can comfortably participate and complete.
To wrap up this four-part blog series, we looked at the contemporary role of spouses who choose to assume leadership roles while their spouses are in command or in a leadership position, leadership and influence, critical thinking and how best to use it to your advantage, and finally, effective communication and team building. Using the skills and strategies discussed in this blog series will help lead to a great team with many unforgettable experiences!
* Kerry L. Erisman is a military spouse, Dad of two awesome teenage boys, Army retiree after 28 years of active duty service, attorney, and Associate Professor with American Military University. He writes and teaches on important military spouse issues including leadership, critical thinking, and education.