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Best game in the world?

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What playing a game taught me about leadership.

Two months ago I invested in a game called The Leadership Game. When I first heard about it, without having seen it, I knew I wanted to work with this game, as a leadership assessment tool.

I decided I wanted to get really good at facilitating it, and see what great things could come from playing it, so I made it a challenge for myself to offer it to as many different types of groups and teams as possible to find out the strengths of this game. Over the past two months, I’ve facilitated the game with:

  • the leader of a voluntary team and her voluntary staff
  • a group of local independent entrepreneurs who don’t know each other
  • a team from the European Parliament
  • a group of certified coaches, speakers and trainers from the John Maxwell Team, and
  • a virtual facilitation with American entrepreneurs.
Playing the Leadership Game at the European Parliemant, Annica Törneryd

It is now crystal clear to me, after having played the game many times with people and different groups as listed above, and with an impressive total of 18 different nationalities, that there are great benefits for EVERYONE playing, and an exclusive opportunity for organizations to improve their leadership intelligence and increase their effectiveness.

Here are the 10 most powerful things that I’ve enjoyed witnessing while facilitating The Leadership Game:

  1. Real and honest conversations ALWAYS open up doors to opportunities for positive change and new ideas being born for oneself and/or for the group as a whole. Asking questions is the best way to lead a conversation and a group to constructive engagement and results.
  2. A great opportunity and invitation for a reality check of one’s personal weaknesses, or those of the team. Hearing other people express what they struggle with, both on a personal and a professional level, is both humbling and empowering. We come to realize that we ALL have things we struggle with, we are not alone. And we get empowered by the shared ideas of how to deal with a current situation or challenge. By sharing our “issues”, or at the very least thinking about it for oneself, this game helps the players become aware of issues of resistance, irritation and stress, and through conversation enables some to surrender to what is. From there, it is much easier to address the issue. Our inner critical voice tells us all the time about our weaknesses, but never gives any great advice or support on how to improve. Sharing a challenge and/or weakness in this safe environment is ideal, as the players get support and ideas of how to take action for a positive change. One of my favorite moments is a woman who shared with her group that she struggles with dyslexia. Suddenly it was very easy to understand why she always took so much time to reply to emails. Her team was unaware of her dyslexia, and by hearing about it, they all could see how much better it was to communicate by phone or in person with her, as they all wanted to support her in having less of this challenge in her day to day activities. Watching this woman open up about something that had – until then – been shameful, embarrassing and stressful for her, but now turned into understanding, support and love was simply BEAUTIFUL.
  3. With today’s stressful lifestyle, almost everyone have a sleep-issue on their list. Either wanting and needing to go to bed earlier, or wanting to wake up earlier to better profit from morning productivity. Everyone agrees to how easily this point could be dealt with. Yet, we all seem to never really get to actually making that change. Perhaps because it seems so easy and doesn’t feel all that important. As a very positive effect from facilitating the game several times, it has finally made enough of an impact on at least ME, and I’m little by little making the necessary changes to turn the light off earlier at night. Here’s a challenge for you, it’s so easy it sounds silly, but still – so many have an almost addiction to it; don’t check your iPhone in bed at night. Add a little discipline to your self-leadership and start today!
  4. Adults sitting down together to play a leadership game for a moment, especially during working hours, is the best group coaching I’ve ever experienced. Nothing can compete with it.
  5. In normal conversations, acknowledging our co-workers, friends, family members or superiors for their strengths is not typically something most people do. Hearing players share what, how much and why they appreciate other players around the table allows individuals to experience a very powerful, positive and beautiful moment that not only acknowledges their skills, but also fills them with joy and a strengthened self-esteem. This is a very important role of a leader, to make the team members feel seen, heard, understood and appreciated.
  6. Everyone’s total presence is intense during the game. Because of the brilliant questions of the game, the engagement and commitment is TOTAL. No checking iPhones, no chatting on the side, no drifting off on important to-do-lists, “just” total engagement and full presence. That in itself is so rare, and important, that it has a therapeutic effect on the whole group. Your team doesn’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Invest some time to sit down and connect with your team.
  7. The creation of action points the players come up with during the game and will implement in their daily habits in order to create a healthier lifestyle gives everyone a great kick in the a$$ets to make a positive change. By starting a better habit, personal or professional, even with a very small step, we can create BIG results in the long run! Seeing your leader commit to making a positive change by creating a new habit or taking action on something that will lead to positive change, will automatically motivate the members of the team to step up their game and do the same. Lead by setting the example.
  8. The power of a mastermind group conversation is demonstrated at its very best! Each individual brings their particular strengths, skills and uniqueness. The combination of all the players adding their individual package, with the birth of new ideas, encouragements, words of wisdom, constructive feed-back and more powerful questions coming from the group discussion, creates a true moment of masterminding. A leader will multiply its capacity, force and influence by including the team in the discussion and plans for the future.
  9. This kind of quality time allows for the members of a team to actually get to know each other better on a personal level! In our daily work environment, we tend to focus on the task, the project and the result, but not so much on the individual. Learning things about our team members or partners, makes us appreciate them even more, and we feel more appreciated by our team members.
  10. Having FUN together is so underrated! Stepping out of the daily stress and “productivity mode”, and allowing a moment of being, connecting, understanding and laughing puts a big smile on everyone’s face! That smile has a ripple effect that works miracles for the individual and for the group – and in the extension for the company, long after we’ve finished playing the game.

Contact me to facilitate The Leadership Game with your group.

Annica Törneryd, founder of ACT2exceed

Facilitating the Leadership Game with a team from the European Parliament
Facilitating the Leadership Game with a team from the European Parliament. Photo: Elina Roberts

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