Have you ever wondered why pilots spend thousands of hours in simulated practice before entering the cockpit of an actual plane? Or why surgeons spend several years ﬁne tuning their skills on cadavers, before operating on real people and animals? The answer is quite simple. Both these professions have high stakes, requiring incredible precision, and skill. What’s more important is that the entire ecosystem for is set up to support doctors and pilots to be prepared for success. This is important because the smallest of mistakes can lead to severe consequences – the loss of lives. Unfortunately, we don’t see such dire consequences in the corporate world, yet isn’t is the case? The decisions that are made in the corporate world can make or break organizations, industries even. A bad decision, resulting in the downfall of an organization affects everyone working for the organization, their families and their livelihood. But, who makes these decisions that impact organizations, and everyone associated? That privilege lies with the leaders. Therefore, the question arises – why shouldn’t aspiring leaders in the business world go through the same kind of rigor? Why not set them up for success?
Developing Leadership Skills through New-Age Methodologies
Today, organizations across the globe are fundamentally changing in the way they are structured, and how they operate. This has distinctly created the need for a change in the set of capabilities professionals possess, and in the way that they function within the organization. Building a strong pipeline of leaders has been a key focus for organizations for decades. However, with the changing business landscape, organizations are not realising that the traditional methods of leadership development are not as effective as they used to be. In other words, traditional learning interventions are failing to equip leaders for the modern business world.
Much like pilots and surgeons, business leaders benefit incredibly from learning through experience. Traditional learning methodologies don’t allow much for experiential learning. As a result, pioneer organizations seek out new-age learning methodologies to develop their leaders and high potential employees to take on more responsibilities and deliver greater impact. Simulation-based learning is quickly catching up in the corporate world, given the obvious benefits and positive outcomes they have produced in aviation and medical professions.
In the business world, Simulations ensure that aspiring leaders implement and sustain the knowledge and skill addressed during developmental interventions. The use of business simulations helps bridge the gap between theory and practice, giving learners the autonomy to make mistakes and test various hypotheses, while providing instantaneous and personalised feedback. Learners and organizations alike obtain several benefits from engaging in simulation-based learning.
Simulations are the present and future of leadership development
Over the last decade, simulations have been gaining momentum as learning tools, and becoming an integral part of corporate L&D strategies of organizations across industries for leadership development. This is attributed to:
- Improvements and the larger inclusion of technology in the workplace, owing to the Digital Age
- A seismic shift in power, authority, and inﬂuence within the workforce, resulting in ﬂatter organizations
- A large body of impact studies on the incorporation of simulations into learning, over the last decade
The question remains still - What is a simulation? A simulation is a technique for practice and learning that replaces and ampliﬁes real experiences with facilitated ones. Immersive in nature, simulations replicate signiﬁcant aspects of the real world in a fully interactive manner, to develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes, whilst protecting aspiring leaders from unnecessary risks, in a safe learning environment. They provide structured learning experiences, and measure predetermined competencies and learning objectives.
Most importantly, within a simulation, learners have the
- autonomy to test their hypotheses and witness the repercussions of their actions on their own,
- motivation to continue positive response inducing behaviours and change habits that are detrimental to their work and responsibilities. This ultimately leads to mastery over the leadership skills they are learning. After all, practice makes perfect!
However, it is important to remember that the primary purpose of business simulations is not to ‘edutain’, but to transform the way that people think and behave. While this is not an easy task, it is a crucial step to altering the leaders’ mental model, facilitating the process of unlearning and relearning.
The vast benefits of KNOLSKAPE’s gamified simulation-powered programs have shown 33% higher engagement, 67% better knowledge retention, and 23% faster skill development vis-a-vis traditional learning. The inclusion of detailed analytics and reports with every component of the learning program gives the users an insight, to map a professional’s path to leadership skills development.
Simulations are key to effectively developing core business skills
The business landscape is changing. For organizations to thrive in this environment, certain core business competencies need to be strengthened, such as leadership, change management and business acumen. Why these skills particularly? It is because RAPID CHANGE is upon us. The difference between success and failure is determined by an organization’s ability to accept and adapt to this change. Change is hard, yes; but without it, we become obsolete. In the digital world, change is taking place on a large scale, affecting business models, leadership styles, relationships with various stakeholders, organizational structures, and more.
However, change is no longer just a leadership function. In the digital age, organizational structures are becoming flatter resulting in higher autonomy of roles and responsibilities. As a result, decision-making is becoming a democratic process. With the power of authority no longer looming overhead, other forms of influence must take foreground in driving both decision-making as well as change.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of every person working for an organization to lead themselves, change, business and others. To do so, competencies of change management, leadership and business acumen are crucial for all employees, not just leaders.
Let’s take a closer look at how simulations help organizations develop LEADERSHIP, CHANGE MANAGEMENT and BUSINESS ACUMEN competencies in the digital age
Change management, like any other business skill, is a people skill. Therefore, to drive change, one must be adept at understanding the people they are working with. A simulation helps learners understand change in a way that traditional learning never could – by exhibiting theoretical models in action and the repercussions of these actions.
Within KNOLSKAPE’s Change Quest Change Management simulation, learners are placed in the role of change agents with the objective of bringing about an organizational transformation. To do so, they are required to influence their peers within the simulation and convince them to advocate and drive the change. The Change Quest Simulation propounds that to influence people and secure their vote, one must gather:
- the knowledge and willingness level of people to change,
- the communication style that best works to influence each person
- The power of influence and group dynamics within the peer group
Within the simulation, learners perform various actions to influence others. The simulation highlights the consequences of these actions through points, feedback and needle movement in influence. This allows for the bridging of knowledge and practice that is instrumental in sustained skill development.
Many consider leadership to be a done and dusted topic. For most, this is a concept that has followed them for most of their lives. Leadership, however, is an evolution. Leaders today cannot say with absolute certainty that they have cracked what it takes to be a good leader. This is because the digital age calls for a restructuring in the notion and understanding of leadership. A leader in the digital world is very different from his industrial age counterpart. Digital Leaders are neither masters nor servants, as has been previously preached. A leader, in the digital age, is an equal partner navigating the curveballs that are thrown at them each day. Therefore, the service simulations offer in leadership development is of as much benefit to seasoned leaders as it is to first time leaders.
Within KNOLSKAPE’s iLead Leadership Simulation, for example, learners are expected to manage a virtual sales team. The leader’s responsibility, however, is to improve their team’s skill, motivation and performance levels, while managing the various curve balls of employee exits, company performance, industry volatility, competition’s performance, etc.
Every action taken within the simulation is matched with qualitative feedback from the virtual team, which leaders are not always used to from their actual teams. In the past, we have had several seasoned leaders come to us after playing the simulation to say that they learnt several things they were doing incorrectly in their roles as leaders, which they consciously intend to change. Several others have come back to tell us the positive change that the simulation has brought to their leadership style.
The digital world proposes that anyone can run a business. This may have always been the case, but only recently is it being accepted as the norm. Typically, it was believed that it takes years, if not decades for professionals to learn the nuances of running a successful business – entrepreneurial spirit, big-picture thinking, understanding of finance, acknowledging and leveraging the interconnectedness of functions, and growth strategy.
While start-up founders are organically gathering this information as they fumble their way through success and failure, larger organizations are also placing young talent in senior positions. Even in the past, senior leaders were typically from a specific background, either having worked entirely in finance or delivery and project management, for example. As a result, they were perhaps also fumbling their way around understanding how various parts of an organization and the larger business landscape work together.
In the digital age, the business environment is far more complex and volatile. Therefore, leaders are not afforded the luxury of time in developing business acumen. Wrongful decisions taken in business can lead to dire consequences. The need for a strong pipeline of leaders within the organization means that this is a skill that needs to be learn at the earliest.
Enter simulations. KNOLSKAPE’s Build-Your-Business Business Acumen Simulation, for example, allows learners to develop the understanding and skill to:
- Identify different growth strategies
- Understand the drivers of profitability
- Apply strategic thinking and execution principles to run a successful business
The result of using simulations for core business skills? A knowledgeable, highly skilled and deeply engaged workforce.
In short, simulations are fun, and impactful. Not convinced? Try it yourself by connecting with us.
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Published by: Nikita Madhu in Blog