If you are a leader working in an organization today, you are constantly riding the competition-cooperation seesaw. You must simultaneously cooperate (to get and keep clients, to get work done) and compete (for internal resources). Leaders who struggle with the competition-cooperation see-saw face constant anxiety, frustration and often career-ending jobs.
What’s Monopoly Got to Do with It?
Many of us in senior leadership roles first learned how to compete, how to win and lose, through the board game Monopoly. While this classic board game does a good job of teaching the mechanics of money, as an economic idea, its time is long gone.
Monopoly is a game from the Great Depression era; a time of few winners and lots of losers. It’s what economists call a ‘zero-sum’ game. Monopoly is a game of exchange, of transactions. In order for me to win, you have to lose.
But economic reality is rarely a zero-sum game. A global economy where goods and services are exchanged, by necessity, must benefit the parties involved. So what’s the big idea leaders need to deeply understand? Interdependence — we are reliant on each other. Interdependence brings with it a weird kind of dichotomy – we need to compete and cooperate at the same time. Yin-yang; two sides of a coin.
Toss Monopoly, Tune into Project Runway and Log on to MMORPs
Games that best reflect our economic reality today are … reality shows and MMORPs. Contestants have to cooperate in order to compete. So toss the Monopoly board and tune into Project Runway, or if you like your entertainment more techie, log on to MMORPGs.
What’s the one game every leader needs to learn how to play? Maybe World of WarCraft. IBM’s Leadership in a Distributed World, Lessons from Online Gaming concludes that leadership behaviors needed for today’s workplace are very relevant in both gaming and corporate environments. Today you can see companies using these online games to actually recruit new leaders and talent.
Leverage Your Social Health
Playing games like MMORPs or participating in a reality contest teaches you that interdependence hinges on relationships. In today’s fast-moving, global organizations you need to leverage your social health — your ability to develop, nurture, and keep productive relationships to get your work done. To quote our CEO, Bob Rosen, in his book “Grounded,” “Personal connections and all they entail are at the heart of a lasting enterprise. A company cannot function without strong social health.”