The ideal team needs to be diverse
Addressing diversity and inclusion in leadership development became a strategic consideration. The major task of the FLIGBY simulation game is to teach people managers how to create a well-functioning team. We know today that the ideal team needs to be diverse from gender, age, education, personality, skill set, experience, motivation, and knowledge point of view if we want increased productivity and innovation. To benefit from the diverse perspectives and skills reflective of everyone on a team, all members need to feel their differences are valued in an inclusive environment. To tap into the richness of ideas, creativity, and problem-solving approaches, all employees need to feel respected, involved, and connected. A study that gathered data on 7,615 firms, published in the Journal of Economic Geography, found that businesses run by culturally diverse teams were more likely to create new products than homogeneous teams.
One of the major challenges to effective collaboration is the inevitable workplace conflict present in diverse teams, and for that reason, leadership development programs must teach the necessary interpersonal skills to navigate through individual differences. In FLIGBY simulated reality there is plenty of sharp conflict between diverse team members of the Turul winery who bring with them their very distinct personal values and goals. Strong female characters are also present and even scenarios that involve age harassment.
Leadership has no gender
The Game has strong female characters to reflect our philosophy that good leadership has no gender. Those leaders who are aware of their masculine and feminine traits can use them to their advantage and allow everyone to benefit from those competencies that are sometimes ascribed to a certain gender. FLIGBY’s talented sales manager Rebecca is a good example of a leader overemphasizing her masculine side out of the conviction that it is the only way to ensure her colleagues will respect her leadership style.
Generational differences also appear in the team dynamics at the Turul Winery. Ellen, who is one of the oldest employees but perhaps not an ideal match in the sales and marketing role, is in conflict with young and ambitious Rebecca who could very well be accused of age discrimination and harassment. Introducing this relational dilemma allowed us to put our players’ attitude toward inclusivity and diversity to a true test and show the consequences of unethical behavior without the typical oversimplifying.
Unethical behaviors bring a level of toxicity into the workplace environment that can cause long-term damage to relationships, culture, and productivity. Today’s widely publicized instances of social unrest speak to the degree of courage needed to combat and change such behaviors. A policy of zero tolerance when it comes to discrimination or harassment is a must to get any cultural change of the ground in an organization and in wider society.
It is not enough to abolish discrimination, leaders must see the advantages of cross-generational collaboration to benefit from it. From the intangible wisdom of those who have seen the organization grow and evolve over time to fresh ideas, optimism, and technical expertise that may belong more often to new employees, diversity of skills cannot be a bad thing. From traditional approaches to communication like the understanding and use of workplace politics and diplomacy that have evolved through years of experience to have good knowledge of how to use new technologies to reach potential customers, expertise comes in many forms and all can benefit from mutual mentoring and knowledge sharing.
FLIGBY’s risk-free virtual environment is a great playground for practicing these new behaviors and trying on different mindsets and perspectives. The simulated reality format creates an environment conducive to experiential learning unlike any other.