Why use business simulations to develop leadership skills?

There are many reasons why business simulations are good for business. One is that employees learn more by ‘doing’ than just listening; another is that the experience of leading a team in a critical (if hypothetical) situation allows leaders to grow.

Data also shows that business simulations help leaders learn about themselves via several different channels; from taking part in the experience, feedback, and perhaps as importantly through increased self-awareness. 

The learning process and integrative learning

Everyone learns through experience, engagement, and reflection. Of course, everyone is different in the degrees to which each of these affects them, and will have other ‘ways of absorbing’ information. 

This is one of the main reasons that simulations work so well in the training environment, as they can create the required space for all three of these elements and impart information in ways that all the participants can grasp.

Viewing problems from different angles

Simulations also provide the means to look at problems from many different angles. This is especially important when it comes to leaders, as it is vital that they can ‘think out of the box’ in critical situations.

Simulations allow you to pause the action

In real life, when things really go wrong, there is often no time to sit back and reflect on what is happening. If unprepared, leaders can and do make rash and incorrect decisions, they simply don’t always have the time to work out the best way to deal with the crisis that they are facing and that, in some cases, is engulfing them.

What any business needs is the ability to prepare its employees and leaders for the crisis before it hits. With simulations, all the team members have the ability to pause, discuss, and decide on what actions they should take, as well as the ramifications of taking the wrong ones, something that is denied to them in real life.

This way participants can see the pitfalls as well as the best solutions, all the time seeing how their behaviour affects the team and its ability to function under pressure. Better still, simulations can be run at any speed required. This allows the facilitator to show what would happen after several days or months, in just a few minutes of ‘real time’.

Why Use a Business Simulation?

There are many reasons for using Simulations in the business environment, including:-

  • Business simulations provide an active, engaging group-based learning environment

There is no doubt that the traditional ‘sit there whilst I talk at you’ training approach can leave many employees with nothing more than a ‘Course Completed’ note on their staff records. The reason this happens is that they are not being engaged and simply cannot receive and retain the required information. Simulations on the other hand require the trainee to get fully involved and to engage with their peers.

  • Business simulations are revealing and create a lot of food for thought

Seeing how you, your staff, and your peers react in a crisis offers a useful insight into how they think and their strengths and weaknesses. This data enables you to decide what roles they can handle and what additional training or help they (or you) require.

  • Business simulations provide real feedback to leaders about their decision-making and problem processing skills.

In a real-life crisis, there is often a ‘post mortem’ afterwards, especially if the outcome was not a good one. This is fine and businesses can learn from them. However, wouldn’t it be better if the leaders who deal with these crises were better prepared in the first place?

This is just what a simulation offers. Here you don’t have to pick up the ‘real pieces’ after a crisis, just the ‘simulated ones’. This allows the leadership team to review what went wrong and how things could have been handled differently. 

In real life, this is known as ‘If Only’ speculation, but with simulations, everything is very different, the business is empowered and provided with the ability to do it right when and if such a crisis occurs.

  • Business simulations are an opportunity to rejuvenate your leadership team as well as their teams.

There can be no doubt that throwing fresh challenges at anyone provides a great way of keeping them on their toes, this being especially true when anyone gets too ‘comfortable’ in their role. Simulations offer a fantastic way of ‘testing’ and improving leaders and their teams.

But just what do leaders learn when they take part in a Business Simulation?

But just what exactly do leaders learn by taking part in a business simulation training session? Quite a lot it seems. The list below is not exhaustive, but experience has shown that leaders can obtain important insights and ‘wisdom’ from taking part in a simulation.

Simulations stimulate the creation of new ideas, enhanced mindsets, and personal insights. This is achieved through the combination of thoughtful reflections and interactions with others. The receiving of timely and relevant feedback is also a major benefit, this enabling your leaders to learn in an entirely new way.

Here are some of the benefits leaders are known to gain

  • They experience and see new ideas, often in a broader business context.
  • An improved mindset as regards their role and impact on the business.
  • A new perspective on the strategy that the company follows as well as its culture.
  • New insights about their own strengths and the possibilities that await them.
  • New behavioural patterns and ways they can interact with their teams.

How is this all achieved?

  • Through self-questioning

By asking themselves such things as ‘did I really engage in the process?’, ‘How well did I really do?’ and ‘Do I tackle complex situations in the correct way?’

  • Through the feedback of others

This is all to do with the conversations they have with the others taking part in the simulations and the feedback received from the facilitator running the simulation during the debrief. As well as by discussing the simulation with others who previously completed the scenario.

As you can see there are many tangible benefits that can be achieved by running a business simulation, so if you would like to discuss just how you could include them in your business training schedules, please do contact Prendo, the business simulation experts.

Interesting Related Article: “3 Ways Businesses Can Prepare for a Crisis