Leadership: The Game

Let’s play a game.

Here’s how:

  • Players needed: Two individuals or equal teams
  • Your choices are red or black
  • If both teams choose black, both teams are awarded ONE point
  • If one team/person plays black and the other plays red, the one that chose black loses a point and the one that chose red gains a point
  • If both teams play red, both teams lose a point

Understand the rules? Good, let’s play.

My choice is black. Your move.

If you chose black, we both win. If you chose red, I lose and you win.

If you’re like me, your first thought would be to choose red and win; ties do not exist.

competetive gif.gif

But think for a second. It’s not necessarily “tying” if you and I both choose black. It’s more cooperation. We both win.


For the past three years, my roommate from freshman year and I wake up at 8 a.m. and spend seven hours at the University of Missouri’s Women’s Leadership Conference.

This year’s theme was “Women in Power.”

The keynote speaker, Sandra Kim, and the breakout sessions focused on leadership styles for women in the professional world.

I learned about this game of choices in one of the breakout sessions titled, “Collaborative Leadership.”

After going a couple of rounds with both teams in the room choosing only black, we learned that this game was more about collaboration instead of winning or losing. My mindset changed from competitive to collaborative.

Apply this to the working world: you want to work as a team to move forward, not focus on beating someone else in the office to impress your boss.

If you’re constantly working towards being better than everyone else (choosing reds) you’re going to experience burnout, your peers won’t be able to trust you, or even worse, someone will try to undercut you (also choose a red) and you’ll both lose.

The working world and leadership models in the workplace is shifting. An office hierarchy doesn’t work for everyone. Leaders should encourage working in tandem with their employees. Just because you might earn more money or have different responsibilities than another person in your office, it doesn’t mean that you know more or know better than them. You just have a different knowledge base, and to learn even more, you have to talk to and work with other people.

You don’t work to break other people down. You work towards solutions, and the best way to find a solution to fit the most people is to work with people,  not against them.

While it’s still important to have someone (or a board of people) at the top to make crucial financial and business decisions, it’s also important to work in harmony with as many people as possible to ensure needed voices aren’t going unheard.

No single person can provide the perspective of everyone and everything they hope to serve. In order to create a product, message or business that connects with people, you have to work with people, not against them.

When both teams choose black, both teams win.

Be a winner.

Build up, don’t cut down.



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