One of the first leadership development exercises I led my team through is the Marshmallow Challenge. If you are new to the challenge, it consists of teams of 4 people, 20 sticks of uncooked spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, and 1 marshmallow. The object is to build the tallest free standing structure within 18 minutes, with the marshmallow on top.
Of course, teams get creative, teams get competitive, and in the end everyone has fun. After all, it's a MARSHMALLOW!
After the exercise, we watched this TED Talk about the Marshmallow Challenge, and the team had some time to discuss their take-aways.
There are many lessons to be learned from this exercise,
but the lesson that I hold close is to keep the marshmallow on top.
Lately, D and I have been having conversations about the importance of customer service and training employees to develop their capacity to serve both internal and external customers. Leaders especially need to model this. My staff are my customers. I tell them all the time, "You are my marshmallow". I design systems that give them a strong foundation and cultivate trust and security. I practice listening in a way that they feel heard, and focus on creating a work environment and experience that leaves them wanting to coming back.
I hope you will take the challenge and watch the video. I'd love to hear what you take away from it, and how you incorporate those ideas into your leadership practice.