My Olympic Team Building Debacle

Posted August 3, 2012 in Latest News & Insights, Teamwork

On this day in 1996, the Canadian men’s relay team anchored by Donovan Bailey won gold in 4 x 100m relay.  It’s a moment that sticks in my memory for the amazing positive energy it unleashed in this country.  In bars across Ottawa, where I lived at the time, each time the race was replayed crowds erupted.  My brother and I even drove to the Ottawa airport to meet Glenroy Gilbert as he returned after the Games and was greeted by 100+ people singing Oh Canada.  Talk about goose bumps!  There’s nothing like a healthy dose of patriotism to get you inspired and all fired up…. and what led me to make one of the worst team building decisions of my life.

Fast forward from 1996 to the Athens Summer Olympics in 2004.  My team and I were in the middle of a pretty brutal business year and I was thinking of a way to get them pumped up and ready for the approaching fall sales season.  The last thing a business leader needs is a group of dejected business developers heading out into your busy season trying to drum up work.

So, when Perdita Felicien was scheduled to run her Olympic hurdles race, I got inspired.  Remembering the amazing energy I’d experience watching the men’s 4 x 100, I gathered my crew and walked them up to Dundas Square where they were set to broadcast the race live.  Along with several hundred others, our group got caught up in the buzz, energy and excitement of the pre-race countdown.  It was electric and I knew the team was going to get pumped from the energy of the crowd!

Well, you all know what happened next.  Felicien crashed into the first hurdle and Olympic Gold was gone.  The crowd went from noisy cheering to a sickening gasp and then to complete silence. And, in the echoes of the silence, my team looked at me and one brave member said “well, that was pretty depressing.”.

As a leader, I guess you win some and you lose some too.

Happy leading!


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