What an experience! Of the string of simulations that I have partaken in throughout the course of Leadership in a Global Context, my favorite and the most impactful simulation was the climb of Mt. Everest. To begin, I believe the simulation was introduced exceptionally well. With the well-crafted introduction videos and build up, I felt more immersed in this simulation than in any other. I think this is partly the reason why I felt so drawn to the experience and driven to accomplish the goals set in front of us.
The major premise of the simulation was to create a realistic experience based on the trek of Mt. Everest. A team consisted of 5 individuals: a team leader, a physician, a photographer, an environmentalist, and a marathoner. Each individual had their own priorities and goals matching that of their role. As the physician, I was tasked with maintaining the well-being of my team members by administering medicine and had my own goal of conducting research while on the trip. Each of these conflicting personalities, goals, and even health conditions made the summit more difficult. Team work was essential.
I think the most compelling lesson I took away from the simulation was the importance of communication. Being aware of each of our priorities, information we received, and health was essential in making decisions. Without proper communication and a plan, completing the simulation would have been nearly impossible. Vanessa, our team leader, was instrumental in this process. She did a great job including all of our opinions and took excellent notes that led to future decisions. We needed to be extremely organized and she was on top of that. I honestly believe that we did well in our simulation experience for coming in with limited context. I believe more elaborate, effective communication would have resulted in a better outcome. It took us a little while to realize that each of us was provided different information. It seemed as though some of our team members were not as willing to share the contrasting information that they received, probably assuming that everyone else was provided the same material. While we tried to combat this fact by asking everyone to contribute, I still believe that some of our decisions were made without the appropriate information backing them. It is much easier to share common information as each member can give their own take on the situation. Common information usually leads to agreement and agreement, in most cases, is much more comfortable than disagreement. It becomes second-nature to share common information in order to develop a bond and start a conversation. However, this can not be the case. All information must be shared, regardless of the commonalities. Conversations must sometimes invite disagreement as this is the only way that progress can be made. In my next leadership role, I plan on making sure that every piece of information is shared by specifically asking team members what they know. By creating an inclusive environment that encourages everyone to share and in which all information is appreciated, I hope to make extremely well-informed decisions, unlike those that were made in the simulation. Members must feel safe enough to share, and I plan to make this a reality by creating an environment where differences are appreciated.
Additionally, I saw an emphasis on process throughout the course of this simulation. With many moving parts and individuals, it was essential for us to approach each decision in the same way. We had a process to make decisions. First, we collected information, then we discussed individual needs, created a basic procedure, and then discussed alternatives based on any objections from our members. This process was very effective and helped build confidence in our decisions. The “process” that we developed was an essential aspect in our decision-making and is crucial in all leadership scenarios. Staying true to her process, Vanessa was able to assess the situation each time, encourage our participation, and come to a final decision with our input. As mentioned, this can only occur through developing an inclusive environment that encourages participation.