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What Business Leaders Can Learn From Gamers

Ajay was an Army Veteran Leader in some of the most adverse and challenging environments who equates gaming metrics to Leadership traits


In the 21st century technology is the main catalytic force that accelerates generational industrial shifts and occurrences and gamers are the earliest of the test subjects who encounter the innovations and transformations which are bound to spread in waves across the market. Gamers predict and navigate the exigencies of such innovations before anyone else does. Gaming environments also foresee and reflect the imminent changes that business environments will eventually have to gear up for. Looking towards gamers for some leadership pointers is, thus, not as absurd as it may sound.

With work environments becoming exceedingly amorphous and diverse business leaders today need to identify features that lend to functional environments in which employees can work constructively and prosper rather than choosing leaders based on the attributes they possess at the time of recruitment who later freeze in the face of transformations.

IBM commissioned study by Seriosity found that individuals you’d never expect to categorize as leaders take the mantle in online gaming environments where they lead not just teams of familiar acquaintances but also teams of culturally diverse and volunteering gamers. They form specialized relationships within the environment of the game and then go on depending on each other to take on an assortment of roles and responsibilities that vary in accordance with the challenges they encounter.

The study also found that prizewinning orchestration in online games does not have as much to do with the individual traits of game players than it has to do with the gaming environment fashioned by the developers and enhanced during game play by the gamers themselves. Other characteristics that contributed to the performance of the players included hands on compensation for accomplishment of operations that had no monetary impetus. These compensations included points for dedication and overall performance. All these findings pave the way for a new kind of business environment that leaders must strive to accommodate as well as deliver.

Paths for leadership may already be laid out in front of business leaders if they just find the courage to take this uncharacteristic route to wisdom. Some of the ways in which they can benefit from the lessons imparted by gamers include:

1. Speedy decision making

The world of gaming demands strategic efficiency at a breakneck speed. Game leaders have to assess their opponent team, identify their weaknesses and draft a calculated plan for attack keeping in mind their own team member’s limitations and overall team performance. Sometimes all of this has to happen within one minute. To keep up with the time restriction leaders carefully have to manage command directions in a way that they match up to team agreement. They also have to work through incomplete information as they work in the dark regarding what obstacles they might have to encounter.

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Leaders in the business world have to undertake decision making in similar terrain where data is constantly renewed and added to. Drafting contingency plans that don’t eat up a lot of time from productivity is a vital attribute that business leaders will need to master in the fast-paced environment of network ecosystems and trade shifts.

2. Premeditated risk bearing

One outcome that the gaming environment allows and encourages is failure. Rather than blowing a gasket at every small setback, gaming leaders anticipate the condition of failure and even after investing hours in game planning and devising the smartest course of action they recognize that embarking on a brand new territory entails risk and chances of failure. They build on that failure to make new stratagems that help in overcoming in-game dangers.

Although business leaders have more at stake than their gaming counterparts, uncertain industry and market conditions also present a chance for leaders to navigate treacherous grounds. While they should ensure careful execution, innovation is fast becoming the central requisite across all sectors. Taking their cue from gamers, leaders can initiate deliberate risk taking for smaller projects providing employees with opportunities to practice self-possession and inventiveness in ambiguous situations. This will encourage a culture of risk taking that sees failure as a prerequisite to assured success rather than something to be avoided at all costs. In short making your team comfortable with the idea of failure can help enhance performance in long term.

3. Leadership as a task

Leadership in games is a matter of task and not identity. Leaders do not take on an already existent position with defined roles and assumptions. They may quit when they are tired of leading and are in danger of a burnout. Leadership roles are temporary and more dependent on a need than compulsion. Moreover they don’t foster the expectation of being a leader forever as they switch hands swiftly and may even be exchanged between players who didn’t consider themselves in the light of the role beforehand. Rising up to the occasion or being motivated by others to take the lead are recurrent reasons for team members to lead the charge.

Temporary leadership is a new concept in the business environment where leaders are identified early in their careers and promoted to higher level roles regularly. In a changing business environment where ecosystem networks demand expertise at multiple levels now might be the right time to switch to transitory leadership. This will not only enable more followers to up-skill as leaders, it will also instil the quality of being an effective follower in leaders making business teams more diversified and polymorphic than ever.

Increased collaboration, resolution and innovation in the workplace can lead to efficiency, productivity and fun in the working environment which will accelerate the business process while keeping the setting highly charged and prompt. The quickened pace of commerce calls for a different type of engagement from business leaders and now might be the best time for them to rise up to the occasion.

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