Climbing Everest Simulation – A Reflection on Leadership in the Face of Adversity

The Climbing Everest Simulation grouped us into teams of five and tasked us with climbing the world’s tallest mountain. On this team of five, each of us had a unique role, unique skillset, unique set of objectives, and unique set of adversity. Oftentimes, these objectives would be in direct conflict with one another, or a person’s skillsets would be required in more places than one. The simulation was designed to create conflict amongst the team. Responsible for resolving that conflict was the team leader; one of the five roles. The simulation through environmental and health challenges at us as well, in order to further test the capabilities of our team. It was clear from the start that effective teamwork would be essential in this simulation.

My main takeaways from this simulation revolve around the concepts of priorities and compromise. Before my team began the simulation, we discussed our goals amongst our group. We attempted to figure out a way to maximize the number of individual goals that everyone achieved. This however put some people in direct conflict with each other. In order to prevent this conflict from needlessly consuming too much time, our leader had us explain the relative priority of each of our goals. Once we did this, she settled the dispute in a way that maximized the effectiveness of our team as a whole, while instituting a compromise that left all of us lacking all that we wanted. The effectiveness of that method honestly surprised me. If I’m ever thrust into a leadership position like that again, I will definitely employ a method of priority examination and compromise to aid in my decisions.

Our team took time at the beginning of the simulation to discuss our own information. We believed that the only way to conduct the simulation effectively was to take everyone’s perspective into account. That being said, when we shared our information with each other we were not as detailed as we should have been. The main points of our story aligned, and we, therefore, didn’t feel the need to delve into more specifics. This is likely due to the Common Information Effect. This effect demonstrates that it is far easier to talk about similarities than it is differences. Normally in a conversation, all parties involved like to be able to relate to one another and add useful pieces of information. This is easiest when the story is shared, or when there is agreement. Uncommon circumstances risk alienating one party, or worse evoking negative emotions. This leads to us humans being naturally inclined to focus on our similarities. Unfortunately, this can also lead to valuable information going unshared, which is what happened in the simulation.

As a result of this simulation, I realized that keeping people informed of the little details in ones perspective is as important as sharing the perspective as a whole. In fact, this is essential in order to best combat information asymmetry. In my next leadership role, I want to create a list of all of the known facts of a situation, that others can add to. This will hopefully significantly reduce information asymmetry, and increase task efficiency.

From the very beginning, we decided that our goal was to maximize the number of points that our team scored. This meant hitting as many individual goals for each person as possible. In order to hit these individual goals, the group needed to be aware of everyone’s objectives. People needed to feel comfortable sharing their goals. Essential to this was psychological safety. In order for people to feel confident enough to share their goals clearly and not feel like a burden to the team, the team had to foster a safe and open environment. This environment proved critical to our point maximization efforts. There was one strategy that our team used in particular that I would like to use in the future. If one member of the team was quiet for a long period of time, someone on our team would go out of our way to ask for their input. We did this regularly. This made everyone feel

like their input was valid and wanted, which helped create a more open environment.
When tackling problems like this process is paramount. The way a team goes about addressing a problem can make the difference between an effective solution or a complete failure. In this simulation, I learned that good processes have several things income. Firstly, there are open streams of communication between team members. These communication streams should lead the team to a common vision. Lastly, a good process utilizes each team member’s full potential for contribution. In order to promote an effective process leaders can do several things. Firstly, they can be clear in communicating goals and objectives. They can also listen to team members, and make member input feel valued. A leader can also facilitate compromise to prevent a process from being stalled due to member conflicts. Overall, there are many ways that leaders can promote an effective process. When done correctly, effective processes will lead to positive results.

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