What makes a winning team?

ARISE Impact at 2017 Learnlaunch Conference

While doing my master’s degree, I took a course named “Leading Teams”, and since then I had been wondering exactly how efficient teamwork happens in the real world. And how it would feel if I were part of such an efficient team. In that class, we did mock teamwork, communication and conflict resolution practice, but eventually I learned in real life what it was that makes a winning team, through the volunteer experience at the LearnLaunch Across Boundaries 2017 Conference in Boston, MA. Surprisingly, what really makes a team stand out among many is not only skills, but more importantly, the self-driven individuals and shared value of the team members.

Here is a short background story about how I fortunately became part of LearnLaunch Conference in 2017. Since September 2016, I had been volunteering at ARISE Impact, a not-for-profit organization that empowers differently-abled individuals to learn on their own by leveraging technology and experiential self-learning methodology. It has been an amazing journey which brought about much growth for me (I will tell that story and share my learning in the next blog). The founder of ARISE Impact, Abhishek Syal, learned about the LearnLaunch Conference and sent me the link to follow up. Just a few days before the conference, we started to prepare a showcase table and all materials for the conference. Initially, it felt overwhelming because the timeline was too short, and it took some faith to believe it would actually happen.

The exciting part of the story begins here. From the founder to our marketing team to the content development team in India, supplemented by the highly efficient team communication on all platforms that we normally use, such as: WhatsApp, Slack, emails, and Facebook page; the coordination and planning was incredible. I felt that something big was going to happen and luckily, it seems that everyone else in the team felt the same way as me. This was apparent with the amount of work that they took on and the determination they had when executing every effort.

I was thinking: this is it. The magical teamwork experience that I had been waiting for is happening!

You never know what happens — that is always the case in life. It wasn’t magical teamwork till Linda and her team joined us. I met Linda through a common connection on LinkedIn two weeks before the Learnlaunch Conference (which is another remarkable story that highlights the power of networking). After talking to her for 40 mins, I was so impressed by her attention to detail, positive spirit and strong desire to learn and grow. When I realized that ARISE Impact team might need additional help in preparing for the conference, Linda jumped to my mind, and I reached out to her immediately.

After a brief introduction of the organization’s purpose, cause and work, as well as our goal to present ARISE Impact and its mission — raising awareness of empowering people with special needs — Linda joined us and the planning and execution started right away.

It only took 2 days for ARISE Impact to build a team of 9, complete the training, and prepare all the conference material.

ARISE Impact Team at LearnLaunch Conference 2017

Under the leadership of our CMO Erandi Palihakkara, and her team’s hard work, ARISE Impact had tremendous success on social media. We had the highest engagement levels of social media audience while covering the Learnlaunch Conference on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. People who care about special education, technology, social innovation, and volunteering found us through our presence at Learnlaunch 2017.

Probably everyone can relate to this: there are some experiences in life, that leave you unable to answer the question “Why did I do this?”. From the feedback of our wonderful volunteer team, the answer to that question came in the form of: “I saw the value of the work” and “I did it because it’s a perfect opportunity to grow in many areas of my professional life.”

You did it but you did not know how — because you wanted it so bad. Everyone in our team has such a strong desire to learn, to grow, to contribute, to give back, to change, to inspire. That was the key to ARISE Impact’s success at Learnlaunch Conference when building such an incredible team. We are lucky to have volunteers who are self-driven and motivated to move our organization forward and to make it happen. That’s what a winning team looks like.

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