How Does Your Past Influence Your Leadership and Teamwork?

Posted by Kristin Arnold on October 24, 2019

Over the years, I have noticed that there are three things that deeply influence how you lead your team:

  • Your upbringing – the things your family – specifically your mom and/or dad – did to lead their “team” of kids to do what they wanted them to do
  • Your first few jobs where you got a paycheck – the things those bosses did (did not do) and how you and your colleagues reacted to their leadership and/or supervision
  • Your current working environment – the accepted and not accepted practices

When you can get your team talking about the factors that influence their behaviors, you’ll have a better insight into what makes them tick, why they do what they do, and appreciate the diversity on the team.

So here’s a team activity that I like to do:

  1.  Have each person think about their first one or two jobs where they received a paycheck (so babysitting and mowing lawns doesn’t count).
  2.  Go around the table and have each person share “their story”:
    • What they were hired to do and what they actually did (which might be the same and yet might be different!)
    • What they liked about the job and what wasn’t so great about it
    • A description of their boss and their leadership style
    • Let the team share their perspectives on how this “plays out” in the current team – what behaviors they see that might be influenced by “the story”
    • Let each person react (agree/disagree/add to – because there might be more insights) to what the team has shared

I always find this activity to be hugely insightful – for the team AND for each individual – to realize how much our past has conditioned us to behave in the present.


KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.

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Photo by Laura Fuhrman on Unsplash

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