In today’s simulation, I was the photographer with a group going up Mt. Everest. I had specific goals, including saying at camp 1 and 2 for multiple days so I could get some nice photos, and also making sure that I didn’t need to be rescued. The other roles, including leader, physician, environmentalist, and marathoner all each had goals themselves, and many of them conflicted. The overall group objective was to fulfill as many goals as possible while also compromising within the group. We also were given different pieces of information as different problems occurred, including weather prediction malfunctions, oxygen calculations, and health issues. While my group didn’t realize that we each had different bits of information at first, we quickly started compiling our information once it all clicked. The most compelling lesson I learned in this simulation was definitely to put our specific knowledge out there when tackling a problem with a group, as we all have different experiences that could be useful. To keep this up, I’ll ask others directly what they know about topics so that they hopefully share and we can compile the information and work on problems with as much knowledge possible.
Once we realized that each person in our group was given different information, which occurred when we started the second problem about weather, we talked about what we knew. I had absolutely no idea what the weather problem was about, while other group members immediately started talking about it. We didn’t succeed in that there, but on the next one about oxygen containers we each did the math we needed for our own oxygen and added the amounts up to get to the max amount. Though we didn’t succeed in that problem too, doing the individual math and then compiling the information into the zoom chat was helpful, and we were very close to solving it correctly. I think that sharing uncommon information is harder than sharing common information because it takes a while to see how uncommon information is relevant for the topic sometimes, and it may be hard to trust information coming from a single source in the group.
As a result of the simulation, I have a better understanding of information and interest asymmetries. Different people have different goals, and the best way my group handled these various conflicting goals was to compromise. I believe my role as the photographer had to make the most compromise with a 63% of points earned for goals, since staying back for 2 days would cause me to be isolated from the group for the rest of the trip, which was detrimental to both the physician and the team leader. Working on this in the future, I’ll try to promote an honest workplace where people can be honest about their goals, so that the group can make compromises to make it work. Though I’m sure this method won’t work all the time, I feel like it’s a good starting point to tackle information and interest asymmetries better.
Creating psychological safety in a group is critical for leaders because if group members are too scared to speak up about clarification and conflict, they won’t be as effective in working for better solutions and the group as a whole will not be able to get a better idea of what is going on. Speaking up and encouraging dialogue are essential for utilizing the experiences and facets of the group, and without it, there might as well only be a single person making all the decisions with little perspective. As a leader, I’m planning on encouraging people to correct me if they think I’m wrong, and let people communicate privately to me as well as within the whole group. I also plan on listening for different perspectives from people who may seem nervous to share, and being as uplifting as possible to them so that they hopefully do it again. Making anonymous surveys so that people can share their thoughts anonymously also seems like an appealing idea to me.
“Process Matters” in leadership is the idea that the leader manages how a group’s work process occurs. Making sure all group members work together and the leader does not end up taking on all their roles is important so that the leader isn’t overwhelmed, while also staying efficient and getting as much insight and help as possible when looking at tough problems. A few process related initiatives a leader can use to work on a group’s process include keeping group discussions on track, initiative productive debates between sides within the group, and actively listening to team members.