When I started my position at ProfitAbility Inc, I knew my main job was to help boost US awareness of our brand. Simulations weren’t foreign ideas to me, however I hadn’t ever seen one prior to joining the team. It was my second day on the job, and I was required to meet my boss at the client’s headquarters very early that day. My understanding was that I was to observe a Magnetic Leadership simulation that was being facilitated by Alex (my boss). I thought that sounded like a fantastic opportunity, so needless to say I was excited. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Several minutes prior to our start we were informed that a participant had to drop out. So there I was, front and center, in full participation-mode at the most challenging and humbling experience I’ve ever endured. A bit nervous, but I figured it’s a simulation! I’ll do fine.
So Alex began his spiel, going into details of how the program was going to run. Looking around at the other participants (all clients), then down at the participant guide on the table, I started to panic. We were to be split in teams. Everyone had a role. We all had a chance to be leader, eventually; Alex would make that decision. However I still had no idea what was going on. Teams, leader, delivery of product. What product? How was this going to even work?
The two teams worked against a very aggressive clock, and were given exactly enough information and materials in order to execute the project on time and to make a profit. Everyone was frantic! I wasn’t sure what to do, so my heart started racing and I felt myself becoming stressed – much like I usually do in my everyday work life. Then the manager and director were also obviously stressed because they started barking at people. Others did not take that well and struggled to accomplish their duties. I felt the panic and I wanted to take over, which is something else I tend to do. But I knew that if I did, there’d be some resentful leaders in our group which would inevitability cause more stress, burden, and decrease the productivity. So I just did my part. Then I asked others for help, which is something else I do. Then it all hit me: ohhhh, it’s these natural reactions that we’re supposed to be working on! Mind. Blown.
An hour later our time was up, and that hour flew by. I was thrilled that our team was able to pull through and figure out what was needed to get done AND produce an actual product. Honestly, I did not see that happening the first 20 minutes of our cycle. We were rated by “the client”, just as we would in real life, and then everybody regrouped to discuss what happened. That would be the immediate feedback that’s the key element in this whole shebang.
Bringing out my natural strengths … and weaknesses
This is where it all came together. OK, so not everyone loved me. But what they did do was to show me the areas where I am strongest, and the ones I really need to work on. And as people gave me feedback, I found myself nodding my head. I knew most of this stuff already, but somehow, the environment was conducive to digging a little deeper, thinking about how I can leverage my strengths as a leader, and also bringing out (in a not-too-embarassing way) the areas where I am most weak. The feedback I received was very constructive and worthwhile. Here, I’ll even share it with you – I work at a fast pace and should slow down so others can interact with me more easily. I should probably slow the heck down then.
The next cycle was a bit easier, then the one after easier than that. It wasn’t until the fourth cycle that both teams had gained a full understanding of what makes a great leader, and what makes a great team. Going around the circle our team was sitting in and watching everyone have that same “ah-ha!” moment like the one I had in cycle one was truly unforgettable. My second day at ProfitAbility Inc, I was proud, and honored, to be a part of this genius team.
I left that course knowing so much more about my work personality and behavior than I had learned in over a decade in the corporate world. You would’ve had to be sleeping through the entire simulation in order to not learn anything. It’s that brilliant. You can’t NOT learn. I’ve never seen anything like it before, and I will take this to every person, group and corporation who feels they need leadership improvement, professional improvement or even a personal boost. And for those who don’t think they need improving? I dare you to try Magnetic Leadership, and see how you match up. Then tell me if you still feel you don’t need improving.
I’ll take bets on that answer.
Erin Sippil is the newest member of the ProfitAbility team, looking after marketing and logistics in our Chicago-based US head office