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The need for effective leadership is increasing as our global community and organizational contexts get more complex, less certain and simply harder to manage. At the same time questions about how to train and develop people to effectively meet these demands need to be asked.  In this piece I want to share a simple leadership simulation that teaches people using what is present in the room, essentially engaging in a process of reflection – in action.  That is using for the purpose of reflection all the actions and behaviors of individual participants in the room, essentially reflecting on the “here and now” of the group WHILE the group is experiencing it.

THE SETTING 

Imagine the setting. You are in a meeting and have decided to conduct a leadership simulation. Imagine a person making a comment about someone who is not in the room. Someone else joins in with a joke. Imagine that you have observed this behavior from the group in the past and concluded that it’s impacting their ability to partner outside the department.

THE PROCESS

The process begins at any moment, by anyone in the group(not just the facilitator) stopping the action and inviting the group to reflect on what they observed. This is what Heifetz calls “getting on the balcony.”

The intervention from the facilitator or participant or meeting lead might be stated simply as:

“I want to push the pause button and ask that we reflect on what just happened now. What do people notice? How is this related to our stated goals of working more with other departments, which is the topic of this meeting?”

Or it might be framed as a more specific interpretation about a dynamic emerging in the group, for example:

“I notice people are beginning to joke and tease people who are not in the room. What is the issue at hand that has generated this? What does this mean for our purpose to work more and better with other departments?”

THE PURPOSE The goal of this leadership simualtion is to enable practitioners to intervene with their constituencies in deeper and more impactful ways when there is an opportunity for them to make progress. This powerful leadership simulation forces a group to go deeper. In doing so, they face reality, which is job #1 for every leader.

Reflection is the heart of the matter here. And doing it in real time is what makes it powerful for your team.