Building Trust Through “Show and Tell”

The game of “Show and Tell” in elementary school is often our first crack at public speaking. It teaches us life lessons and broadens our imagination and creativity. “Show and Tell” engages many different learning styles, and it helps people feel known and heard. Sometimes the best professional development comes when we bring it back to the basics.

At Leadership Vision, we had a 2 day off-site meeting to wrap up 2016 and plan for 2017. Because we are relational on purpose and intentional by design, I thought it would be a good idea to do a professional version of “Show and Tell.”

In preparation, I asked the team to bring something to share that could fit in their hand, and helped them answer the following question:

Why you and Leadership Vision?

In other words, what gets you out of bed in the morning and gets you excited about the work you do with our organization? What kind of platform does Leadership Vision offer you as a person and/or professional?

Show and Tell Agenda

The process was pretty straight forward. To begin, I gave everyone a notecard, and asked them to write down the following:

  1. What the object is (give it a title.)
  2. A sentence describing it (what does it mean to you?)
  3. Your signature (make it your own.)

Each person on our team had three minutes to describe their object and explain the “why?” to the rest of the group. Next, the rest of the team was given 3 minutes to respond or ask a follow-up question.

To make it really successful, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Keep the question as open-ended as possible. This allows participants to truly put their own spin on the answer and makes it unique.
  • Encourage creativity and expect self-expression. By making the object small, our team was required to think about what they were “showing” and how they were “telling” their story.
  • Know that as adults, we may second guess ourselves more than uninhibited children.
  • Model vulnerability and be brave. It is important to make sure the person setting this up, or sharing first, does a good job setting the stage to model the outcome you want.

What We Learned

The day of “Show and Tell” came. I thought I knew my colleagues well, but I learned even more about them on this day.

One participant shared a lined ruler, describing how she had once stopped growing professionally, but at Leadership Vision, she had new life because we provide opportunities for people to rediscover that growth potential.

Another team member brought a marathon race medal. Over the course of a few years, he has knocked over an hour off his marathon time and shared how, at a previous job, he felt like he had reached his potential. As with the marathon, since coming to LV, he has learned the life lesson that, “you can run faster and farther because you have a lot more inside of you than you think.

There was a matchbook and matches, baby shoes, a candle, a piece of barn board, a shower cap, a framed photo, an antique shoe, some homemade peanut butter, a 3-way light bulb, and a retablo of a nativity scene.

We heard about unexpected gifts, invitations of courage, memories, and items that spoke to people’s callings, points of suffering, and dreams that were being fulfilled. We spoke back to our colleagues and expanded upon their metaphors. It was sacred.

Why We Did this and Why You Should, Too

The beauty of this exercise is that each person is given a platform to speak, to be heard, and to be known in a different way. One colleague said it best, “At Leadership Vision, we have infinite opportunities to do what we do best every day. And to share it.

This activity was a test in vulnerability. We took the time to open up and expose a part of ourselves that we don’t ordinarily get to see. It was an opportunity to build trust, and as a result, deepened our relational currency as a team.

Your Show and Tell

This is an incredibly easy activity that any team can recreate. We encourage you to try “Show and Tell” as a way to build trust and get to know people on your teams. Let us know how it goes!