Legoman's lesson on leadership

By: Jim Kok
October 20, 2011

After being tortured by an entire week of final exams, we entered into our dedicated week of leadership training, a.k.a. Managing Groups and Teams. I was quite excited because it's the first time that my study group -- the 8 "Silver Bullets" (we didn't like vampires) -- were going to experiment problem solving and leadership development together. Our first task was the Legoman game. The game is documented here, if you are interested in more detail. In a nutshell, we were given many Lego pieces and were asked to build a figure in the same way as the demo. Only one person at a time is allowed to go up to see the figure and then tell the team how to build it. We spent a lot of time coming up with strategies to integrate and reconcile the information gathered. Although the process was a bit chaotic, the team dynamic worked out really well. We finished the job flawlessly in 2m16s and scored second among 7 or 8 groups in our cohort. Our referee and observer, Wei Chen, praised us for being social, collaborative, trusting, and empathetic. Based on her feedback, I identified that we belonged to the "Smoothly functioning group" :) Smoothly functioning groups. They tend to be trusting, cohesive, and exhibit high interaction and sharing. They test for consensus without threatening members and seem committed to the plan and outcome. They are characterized by minimal effort and maximal gain . The game, in some ways, represented the turbulent and uncertain business environments that we are experiencing now. The kind of leadership that was effective to move our game forward in this situation was framed as “Adaptive Leadership” in a publication by BCG Strategy Institute. One characteristic that stood out in our game was that everyone in the group shared leadership and had really diverse perspectives towards solving the problem. We broke the task down into smaller subtasks and everyone assumed ownership of his/her own parts. We also enjoyed a high level of autonomy by coming up with our unique ways of solving our subtasks. We constantly tested our strategies and ensured self-correction was performed through positive criticism and feedbacks in the integration process. It was such an amazing learning experience for me! Finally, a team picture of Silver Bullets, say CHEESEEEE!

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Jim Kok