Challenges of the Simulation
Once again utilizing the concepts of experiential learning in the development of leadership skills/philosophy, today’s lesson in Leadership in a Global Context included a simulation known as “Patient Zero.” Students are placed at the helm of a government and nation faced with a pandemic. The pandemic has the unique ability to turn the population into “zombies,” and participants must be able to make difficult decisions in order to preserve the health of the country.
Of the many decisions that we were required to make, I found Event 2 the most difficult at an individual level. I was torn. The decision focused on testing for the virus. A company had been able to develop a product that was able to test the population at an 80% accuracy level. However, due to the 20% inaccuracy, many false positives were reported and many healthy, innocent people were forced into quarantine situations in which they would eventually contract the disease. Despite this issue, the test was still able to save a large amount of lives from infection. We, as a team, had to decide whether to continue or discontinue the test. Obviously, this was an extremely difficult decision as, while the test was saving lives, it was completely unethical and relied on the sacrifice of innocent individuals. In my opinion, I thought the test, overall, was beneficial and should continue to be distributed as it was saving lives. However, a majority of my team disagreed. I listened to their opinions and had some conversations with them regarding the topic. Eventually, I got to a point where I still disagreed with the decision of the team but was comfortable with the consequences of the majority decision. I trusted the decision making ability of my team. Luckily, they made the right decision and our simulation experience was successful.
I believe this simulation was a great experience and definitely brought emphasis to team dynamics. As a team, I thought we collaborated well and listened to all of the contributing opinions. We did not jump to any conclusions, heard everyone out, and logically discussed each argument. Conflict was common, but I believe as we did not have any clashing personalities or major consequences, we were able to resolve them effectively. Our major strategy that seemed to work well was voting. We offered the floor to ever team member and then asked them to vote when the group had differing opinions. If the vote was close, we would discuss further and try to find common ground. If the majority was overwhelming, we would move forward. This seemed to work well and the simulation experience flowed smoothly. I think an area of improvement for us as a team would be to actively ask for the opinions of our team members. Some of the members were quiet and did not share much. I wish some of us, including me, would have reached out and asked for their opinions. As a leader, I value every member’s input, and I think we should all play a role in making major decisions such as those in the simulation.
I think one of the most crucial aspects emphasized through this simulation specifically was the importance of adaptive leadership. Adaptive leadership focuses on taking account of the situation and reacting to it. It requires emotional intelligence to trust your team members and yourself, organizational justice to create a culture of honesty and inclusivity, development for persistence and new approaches, and character in order to earn respect and stay determined. There is no predetermined protocol for these situations. A leader must be able to make quick, effective decisions that keep the team engaged and successful. They must have all four of the traits that I mentioned in order to do so. I admire this style of leadership. It is extremely difficult to emulate, and I believe the only way to learn it is through practice. It shows the true character and traits of a leader.
What Resonated With Me?
I definitely think the concept and principles of adaptive leadership resonated with me because of this simulation. Due to a lack of experience and context, we were all forced into a situation where our adaptive leadership abilities were tested, and I enjoyed this challenge. While it was difficult, it was extremely engaging and interesting. I also was very interested in how tensions and behaviors can interfere with leadership. Each individual has their own personality, needs, and beliefs. A leader must adapt to each of these individuals and bring out their best traits in a way that encourages collaboration and communication.