What you need to know about leadership games
Table of Contents
What is a leadership game?
Leadership games are business games that teach leadership skills and provides you with new insights while playing. In this case, leadership doesn’t stop at the boardroom. Instead, leadership is everyone’s responsibility within the organization.
Why using leadership games?
Compared to traditional ways of learning, game-based learning increases your return on investment in learning and development. The impact of games according to several studies is related to different elements:
- Retention rates are up by 70%;
- it results in a 79% increase in productiveness;
- motivation raises by 62%;
- and the engagement rate is up by 81%.
Can I use leadership games for people without leadership or management positions?
Yes, you definitely can. You don’t have to be a manager in order to lead. We define leadership as having skills to add value (1), seeing the opportunities where you can add your value (2), and the courage to take action (3).
When using business games?
Organizations use business and leadership games in many ways, like:
- It’s for example a great tool for a teambuilding event as play improves relationships and your connection to others. Sharing laughter and fun fosters empathy, compassion, and trust. Next to that play helps to relieve stress as it triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.
- When used in a brainstorming session, play helps to think out of the box and to memorize situations and solutions. A game provides a ‘safe environment’ where no idea is wrong. Play encourages creative thinking.
- Games are used by recruiters during selection processes, as playing a game shows the real behavior of the player/applicant.
- During training days games are used in the afternoon session, after regular presentations and the lunch break. Usually, people’s energy gets low after this time and it’s hard to learn new things. It feels as the afternoon is wasted. Playing a game increases the energy level of the individual and the group. The afternoon becomes a valuable part of the day to learn new skills and gain knowledge.
- Every person has its own learning style. In personal development plans, games are entered to support the transfer of knowledge and skills to persons who are more right-brained or also called visual thinkers.
- And also leadership development programs contain leadership games to vary different learning formats.
- Business games are also used during change projects. In this case, the game supports the organization to get everyone on board with the changes.
- Next to the above, there are many more instances where organizations use games to reach their goals on learning and development. Are you curious about what games can do for your organization? Let’s get in touch.
What makes a leadership game good?
There are many types and genres of business games at different levels and with different qualities. For example, you have board games, role plays, simulations, puzzles, strategy games, card games, and video games. Some games are about adventures you’ll never experience in real life, others – like simulations – are a copy of our reality. A good game has a type that fits your organization, your learning culture, and reflects the goal you want to achieve by playing the game.
The quality of a game depends on several factors. The experience of the game-developer is a big factor. But also the number of test rounds that were done, the level of uniqueness, and the way the game is facilitated influence the quality. A well-organized reflection round is important as this puts the game in the right context of your organization.
Velites game quality standards
A game shouldn’t be just a game. Within Velites we have a variety of requirements to guarantee the quality of our leadership games:
- The game contains the magic triangle. This contains 3 core elements: learning aim, play aim, and desired behavior.
- Organizations need to be able to use the game in multiple different settings.
- Experience-based gaming: our games require real action from players and are interactive. You learn by doing instead of learning by talking or listening only.
- The game has to be unique: we work as an independent game developer and have our own graphic designer to make sure no game is like another. Are you curious about how we make our graphics? Check out this video.
- Expect the unexpected: the game has to trigger curiosity and you cannot predict the outcome.
- We have a list of prohibited game types: (reflection) cards only, memory, monopoly, the game of the goose, and happy families. The most important reason for this is to guarantee an effective learning experience.
- The game needs to support showing the real me’s: players don’t know what to expect and basically can’t cheat about their inner drives as their ‘own behavior’ is activated.
- Peer-learning is a must.
- Players don’t feel as if they’re learning, we call this automatic learning.
- Only certified facilitators facilitate the game. Check here to learn more about how to become a certified facilitator.
- We complete test rounds with certified co-game-developers, our target audience, and co-workers during several stages of the game development.
How to organize business games for leadership development?
Gamification is popular and effective. And one way or the other, every organization that wants to be ahead of the game in regards to learning and development is doing something with games. But where to start and how to organize? There are easy tools like print & play formats available to start with and to experiment with. However, if you are already familiar with games, you might want to integrate games on a more regular and structured basis in training programs.
Print & Play games
There are game formats online available to enter play into your organization. You can download these and include them in your team meeting or training easily. An example of this is the program ‘Your huddle up and running in 7 days‘. Part of this program is a game template that helps you and your team to set up effective, interactive catch-up meetings. Games are part of online leadership programs as well. In this case, the game is available for online play. Next to that, you can download game templates and instructions to organize offline games for learning and development purposes.
Facilitated leadership games
The print & play option is very accessible and easy to implement. However, sometimes you want to be part of the game yourself, you don’t have the time to prepare the game or you want to make sure to get the most out of the game. In that case, you make use of a game facilitator. A game facilitator manages the game logistically (time-keeper, making sure groups are formed, etc.) and knows the dynamics of the game and the learning process behind. The facilitator also makes sure that the game session is updated to the latest developments. He or she integrates these developments for example into the reflection round or the introduction of the game.
Internal vs. external facilitator
You can have an internal or external facilitator. An internal facilitator is someone from within the company. He or she is for example working at the learning and development department or is an expert on a specific topic where the game is related to. In order to make sure this person understands the game and it’s functionality fully he or she is certified by the game developer or game association. Having someone internally certified has multiple benefits, like:
- it gives flexibility: you can plan the game wherever and whenever you want;
- you can insert the game into learning journeys easily;
- the facilitator is able to adjust the reflection part company-specific;
- it’s quicker to organize.
Making use of an external facilitator prevents falling into the trap of groupthink. The external facilitator offers a fresh perspective on how things are done. They often also bring new input, as these facilitators facilitate in multiple organizations within often different industries and share patterns they see within these organizations.
There is no right or wrong making use of an internal or external trainer. What matters is what helps you to achieve the goals you want to achieve by using a game. And keep in mind that you can always have a combination of both. E.g. you start with an external trainer and later on certify someone within your organization.
How to add leadership games to current development programs?
Do you have already (leadership) development programs in place? Games are perfect to support the traditional learning process. They boost motivation, retention, and engagement on average by 71 percent.
Mandatory vs. enrollment
There are two main ways how to get players on board. The first one is adding the game as mandatory training to your current curriculum. In this case, you decide whom to invite for the training. The other way around is that people choose to play the game themselves. In this case, you offer for example different workshops during a personal development day.
Can I play the same business game multiple times?
Playing a game multiple times gives insight in the retention of the things learned. Based on that, you expect that the second time someone plays the game, he or she gets better in it. That being said, not all games fit this approach, as they become boring. On the other hand, good games trigger your curiosity and won’t let you predict the outcome. Therefore you can play them more than once. This way, you can see the growth and progress of the participants.
Where can I learn more about the power of games?
Curious about what games can do for your organization? Join our Introduction Class: game-based learning in business. During this small-group online session, you’ll get an introduction to the influencers of the learning mindset. You’ll learn how to use game-based learning in business settings. And by the end of the class, you’ll know how you can use games to improve your ROI of learning and development. Of course, there is time to play as well.