Leadership Dojos

I see – and hear of – many organizations having trouble with leadership. Starting with the question „what is leadership?“ reaching to problems in concrete application of leadership skills in daily business. One urgent question is: „How can we make clear to leaders in our organization, what leadership is and what our organizations expectations to leaders are?“. Seminars and trainings are a frequently chosen approach in trying to sharpen the understanding of leadership in a company. But I have my reasons to doubt this tools are working.

A very pragmatic and effective way to deal with problems of alignment and lack of practice in software development and coaching are coding dojos and coaching dojos. I tried both tools and found them to be very useful in making clear what the expectation of the trainer is and recieving valuable practical lessons. Transfering this concept to the topic of leadership could look as follows:

  1. Choose a standard – but not so easy – situation from the field of leadership (e.g. a worker is not motivated, there is a conflict between two co-workers, etc.)
  2. Try to model the situation as good as possible and prepare a role play. There are three roles: the „leader“, the „challenger“ and the „observer“. Distribute these roles to at least three people („challenger“ and „observer“ might be taken by more than one person)
  3. Take a time frame of approximately 30 minutes and a room where the prepared situation would be likely to happen in reality.
  4. The „challenger“ will now try to play his prepared role as good as possible and the „leader“ has to try to „solve“ the given problem. The „observer“ is not allowed to speak and just observers the situation and makes notes for a later discussion.
  5. After playing the role play for 30 minutes the game is stopped and the observer tells the leader about his observations. At this point expectations of an organization to their leaders can be made clear in a very practical, effective and sustained way (if the observer knows about these expectations).
  6. Restart at step 1 based on the feedback oft the observer.
Did you try something like this before? What are your experiences? Do you have further ideas for concrete situations to role play? Feel free to use the comments section for your feedback!

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