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Building better teams

By Ron Wilson

Teamwork. It’s vital for success in athletics, communities, businesses, and organizations. But how can we build better teams? How can more successful teamwork be achieved? How can we create high performing teams? Today we’ll learn about a leadership development opportunity that focuses on teamwork.

For 17 years, a leadership seminar has been held annually on the Kansas State University campus.  Its mission is to enhance the leadership skills and capacities of the K-State community and communities throughout Kansas. This year’s event will be held on Wednesday, March 27, 2013.  The theme for this year’s seminar is “Working Together to Create High Performing Teams.”

The keynote speaker for the 17th annual K-State Leadership Seminar is Tom Champoux, founder and president of the Effectiveness Institute in Bellevue, Wash. Champoux is said to be “a nationally recognized and dynamic speaker, energizing trainer and effective coach who dramatically demonstrates the need for organizations to shift focus away from power and toward collaborative responsibility. The heart of his work lies in creating an organizational culture built around empowerment and the exchange of trust, respect and dignity.”

One of his core beliefs is that every leader, manager and individual has the potential to create a positive impact on team and organizational performance.

The seminar is intended to give participants practical, hands-on information and tools; best practices for effective leadership; inspiration to exercise leadership when it really counts; an idea of where to go for additional leadership resources; and a connection to others who are working to grow their leadership skills.

Breakout sessions will include information on teamwork in four different contexts: universities, the military, communities, and non-profit organizations. Featured in those breakout sessions will be a diverse set of speakers discussing how to build more effective teamwork in these different contexts.

The session about teamwork in a university setting will feature Dr. Jackie Hartman, K-State’s chief of staff and director of community relations. The military session will feature Colonel William J. Clark, garrison commander at Fort Riley. The community session will feature Janet Siebert from Arkansas City, who is president of the Kansas Leadership Forum, and the non-profit session will feature Rick McNary, vice president of Strategic Partnerships for Outreach, Inc.

Rick makes the point that there is a difference in the practice of teamwork between teams of employees and teams of volunteers. Rick has a rich history of working with those who volunteer.  As we have chronicled previously, Rick founded the non-profit organization known as Numana Inc. to deal with issues of world hunger.

In the first six months of 2010, Numana empowered more than 120,000 volunteers to package over 20 million nutritious meals for the Salvation Army’s response to the Haiti disaster and recovery. Now a consultant, Rick created and implemented the Kansas Hunger Dialogue which gathered top administrators, faculty, and students from Kansas’ institutions of higher learning to collaborate on hunger. He serves on the steering committee for the Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit in Kansas in March 2013. He was the 2012 recipient of a National Innovation Award from the Alliance to End Hunger for his Healthy foods/Hunger Free Community model.

These are remarkable accomplishments for someone who comes from the rural community of Potwin, Kansas, population 449 people. Now, that’s rural. He will share his perspective on building teamwork among volunteers.


Other speakers include K-State’s April Mason, provost and senior vice president; and legendary K-State head football coach Bill Snyder. In keeping with the theme, a reduced registration fee is available for teams of participants.

For more information on the seminar or to register, go to

Teamwork. Yes, it is vital for success in athletics, communities, businesses, and organizations.  We commend all those involved with the K-State Leadership Seminar for making a difference by encouraging the creation of high performing teams. The importance of teamwork has even been emphasized by players such as NBA superstar Michael Jordan, who is considered perhaps the most talented basketball player of all time. He once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”


The writer is director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University. He can be reached at

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