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Leadership and Sword Fights?

Posted by: Jena McGregor on November 15, 2007

Looking for a new place to get your team out of the humdrum of the office for some team-building or leadership know-how? Now you can take them to the Olympics. Last year saw the launch of Olympic University, an institution with programs at the Olympic training site in Colorado Springs and in Lake Placid, N.Y. The first conference, which apparently happened last week, was called “Leading from Within” and had corporate types trying out Olympic sports ranging from judo to fencing to “goalball,” one of the paralympic sports. Executives chatted with leadership experts, athletes preparing for Beijing, and even took part in a torch lighting ceremony with a relay. “People don’t want PowerPoint slides,” says Alicia Mandel, Olympic University’s director, adding “we really try to get into the whole notion of Olympism.”

Upcoming conferences include a Women in Leadership program in April and a workshop later this month at Lake Placid where participants will try out bobsledding and skeleton as “a metaphor” for how to “drive results as a team.”

I don’t know much more about the program or how effective it will be. I do know, however, that a great contact of mine, Spencer Stuart executive recruiter and author Jim Citrin, speaks highly of Mandel and the program. At the very least, maybe you’ll come away knowing a little about how to bobsled, fence, or play goalball. Which may be even more interesting than walking away a better leader.

Reader Comments

Brandon W

November 16, 2007 8:57 AM

This is kind of a cool idea. However... I've gotten annoyed with the use of the word "University" for training companies that obviously aren't universities.

John A. Byrne

November 18, 2007 10:09 PM

A sword fight? Where do I sign up? Seriously, any activity that takes you out of the norm builds the bonding that makes a team special. I used to take my teams out on a river for rafting and back for karaoke. Sword fighting sounds like a real thrill!

Wally Bock

November 19, 2007 4:11 PM

Sorry. This one's got "boondoggle" written all over it. Does anyone besides the folks who own this training company and the executives attending really think that fencing together really makes for a better executive team? Or that learning to bobsled on the company dollar will make you a better leader? This is a perk masquerading as training. It may indeed be great fun to learn to do these wonderful olympicesque things but it shouldn't be something that shareholders pay for.

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