What do I mean by “Leadership Simulator”? A Leadership Simulator is a situation where we can hone our skills, make mistakes without catastrophic results, celebrate our innate qualities and those of our teams, and initiate new ways and ideas without suppression or consequence. Developing leadership skills is important for start-ups and other small businesses to grow.
I believe that this Leadership Simulation has to be ‘outside the classroom’, it has to be experiential, and it has to include the “nature factor” (NQ), working alongside other living flora and fauna.
How does this relate to your business? Well, perhaps surprisingly, nature and the business world have many similarities. How beneficial would it be for companies to learn from nature? In some areas, such as product engineering and medicine, it is already happening, but in the areas of personal leadership and team leadership this opportunity has not been developed until now.
Why not look to nature for lessons in leadership? And therefore, why not develop a Leadership Simulator that harnesses these lessons into a practical toolkit for entrepreneurs, executives and managers to use?
Let’s review NQ and then explore a Leadership Simulation scenario from nature that can strengthen your start-up or small business.
The background – NQ
In nature, animals instinctively know the best survival strategy, it’s built into their DNA. They trust it implicitly to stay alive. Human beings have 300,000 years of leadership DNA but have stopped trusting it and no longer know how to access it.
To survive and flourish in today’s disconnected world we need to change leadership styles in response to different business situations and environments. It’s time to discover our animal-self and become a better business leader.
Natural IntelligenceTM (NQ) is the positive use of your instincts, insights and perceptions. It requires you to open to the senses just like a wild animal;
- Picking up invaluable information by watching closely,
- Interpreting signals – whether conscious or unconscious,
- Recognising boundaries,
- Spotting defensive stubborn or aggressive patterns,
- Gaining knowledge about comfort zones – reading behind the eyes.
All of which translates into dramatically improved and well-honed interpersonal skills.
Scenario – Lions
Consider the lioness and her cubs. Her responsibility is to keep the youngsters alive and train them in the skills they need to thrive.
The mastery of hunting is one every lion must possess. It often is the difference between eating and starving. The lioness therefore does everything they can to protect their young. They will fight to the death to protect their legacy, until the cubs are approximately three years old. After this time they are on their own.
In addition to showing the cubs how to hunt – a “watch me and take notes” scenario – the lioness also allows the cubs freedom to play as a key component of their life training. They hide, they stalk, they ambush, they pounce and they wrestle with each other. They bite and chew one another, and they pounce on mother’s swishing tail while she is resting.
These antics, as you may have guessed – a Leadership Simulator. It allows the cubs an opportunity to hone their skills in a safe and risk-free environment.
A secondary benefit to this natural Leadership Simulator is that strong bonds are forged between the youngsters, which will be crucially important to their chances of success later. Learning together, mastering their skills together, succeeding together. They are pack. A cohesive and efficient team.
A third benefit to this Leadership Simulator is that it gives the cubs freedom to make mistakes without the worry of going hungry. The lioness provides a supporting safety net whilst they mature, by continuing to hunt for their food whilst the youngsters practice and improve.
Once old enough, the cubs mature and are left to fend for themselves, using their Leadership Simulation skills in the real world – hunting for real food.
How does this relate to a start-up or small business? Allow the analogy, if you will, that the Founder and Executive of a start-up business is the ‘lioness’. Their role is to keep the company growing, whilst looking at ways to maximise revenue.
Consider the lions simulation above, what if, as a leader, you trained new staff to align with your skillset (“watch me and take notes”), you gave them opportunities to make decisions and make mistakes under your guidance (play, explore, challenge), empower them to grow within themselves (real life tests, with a safety net), instil loyalty (“you are pack”), and ultimately, craft a powerful team that compliments and supplements your own desires for the company.
Surely this would create a cohesive and efficient team, that you as their leader can trust to fend for themselves, whilst ensuring that your business grows. Think about;
- What three activities/projects could you implement in the workplace that provides this safety and freedom for your young team to explore their skills?
- In addition to the lions, what other analogies can you think of in nature that complements the notion of “Leadership Simulation”?
- What can you do, as the leader, to give confidence in your team to “break the mould” and harness their natural creativity?
What does this all mean for your business?
The lesson here is that whilst techniques can be learned from a book, acquiring the skillset to effectuate those techniques into the workplace takes practice – or simulation.
Nature is a powerful tool and one that we can all learn from if we take the time to observe its lessons. The most powerful way to conduct leadership simulation is to take your whole team all an experiential leadership day connecting with nature, guided by a professional. There are many organisations now offering this kind of work. It is safe because it is outdoors.
Remember, memories are stored in the muscles. They are literally embodied. Imagine a leadership simulator experience with your team that combines the skills and techniques of the leading thought strategies with a deep understanding of your own personal physiology. Where in a safe environment you can access the impact of stress and pressure on your decision-making capabilities and general wellbeing.
The learning you experience can be transformational.
These new ways of challenging yourself and your team to a unique natural leadership simulator experience will take you outside your comfort zone and challenge your deeply held beliefs, that will make you stronger and more confident in your own ability so you can successfully run your business while navigating this fast moving and unknown world that we all now live in.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Rosie Tomkins, founder of the Natural Capital Consultancy, and author of ‘N-stinctive’, an inspirational book that introduces an alternative to traditional leadership training by unlocking the power of the natural world to provide strength and confidence to people who are shouldering huge responsibility.
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