Ice breaker reveals team talents

Use this tool when forming a new team, group, cohort or committee.

The Head, Heart and Hands Personal Gifts Inventory is an excellent introduction exercise. It builds a sense of community among group members, empowers the team to recognize its collective gifts and moves them from needs-thinking to strength-thinking.

The Head, Heart and Hands Personal Gifts Inventory has roots in both 4-H (head, heart, hands and health) as well as Asset-Based Community Development, exemplified by McKnight and Kretzmann. This ice breaker sets the stage for building trust between participating members.

So, how does it work? Michigan State University Extension recommends that you start first by distributing a Personal Assets Inventory handout to each person and provide instruction for using it. Although the questions could be projected on a screen, white board or flip chart – my experience has been that a handout works best.

Introduce the process to the team, group, cohort or committee. Explain that “we all bring special gifts to any group of which we are a member. And if we recognize each other’s gifts, we can creatively combine them to make the team stronger and more successful.”

Describe each of the following categories, asking the group if they need any clarification:

Gifts of the hands are physical skills or talents. These can include athletic, wood working or musical capabilities; any gift, talent or ability having to do with the hands or body.

Gifts of the head include abilities associated with learning, knowledge, organizational capacity or numbers; any skills related to thinking and planning.

Gifts of the heart are talents linked to emotions, such as empathy and caring. This includes any number of people skills such as friendliness, the ability to see humor in a situation or volunteer commitments.

Propose silent time, usually about five minutes, to allow everyone the opportunity to think about and write their own gifts on the handout. For a new group, it is especially beneficial to ask each person to share aloud, 3-5 gifts they consider to be their most valuable. Responses may be recorded on a flipchart.

After everyone has had a chance to share, discuss how these assets could be beneficial to the team, with questions such as:

  • Is there anything we are missing?
  • Do we have some similarities here? Differences?
  • What did you learn from this introduction exercise?
  • How might we be able to utilize some of your gifts with this group in the future?
  • Any other comments or feedback?

Not only do the group members learn about their fellow colleagues in this icebreaker, but as is often the case, the skills identified become important components in developing the new team, group, cohort or committee’s future endeavors. 

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