Giving Leaders “Reps” and Practice so they can Play to Win



This past weekend gave us a unique opportunity to watch some of the most elite athletes in thepractice-makes-perfect world perform in their primes in both the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics.

These sporting events have been phenomenal, and it is such a pleasure watching these amazing athletes perform on the world’s stage under unfathomable pressure.

If there is one consistent theme that comes from these high-level performances is the absolute belief that every one of these athletes has reached their pinnacle of performance through practice, training, and coaching. Over and over, you hear them talking about getting in their “reps” (short for repetitions) and how many times they practiced their performances.

So, if the best athletes in the world can get better by practicing, we can’t business people?

In 2022 and beyond they can and more importantly they should!

In the new normal, digital business simulations are the repetitions and practice for business people that are the equivalent of scrimmages for athletes.

Just today, I was having an interesting conversation with a client about the various scenarios we are building in the design of a new customized Psychological Safety simulation we are developing for them. The conversation was about how to handle a scenario called, “It’s my meeting you can try to talk if you want to.” The scenario goes like this:

You are in a global meeting with more than 8 different people led by a male manager you haven’t worked with before. This manager is regarded as a strong leader who gets things done. Today’s meeting is about updates to the new product pipeline and progress that is being made by R&D and Marketing. You notice that every time someone in the meeting starts to talk, the manager jumps to a conclusion and starts talking over them. It’s especially relevant and disturbing when the female participants try to speak as the manager’s tone is very condescending. After a while, people in the meeting stop contributing.

In the simulation, participants are asked a question about what to do next. That decision then triggers a follow-up to the scenario and more decisions. Through this methodology, participants learn by doing and practice what to do back in the real world. And just like the real world, these scenarios are complex and multi-layered. As participants discuss the nuances of the situation they learn even more through the discussions and experiences of other learners.

As the convergence of technology and learning continues to produce more opportunities for practice through digital simulations, I wanted to share 5 key learning we’ve had over the past 24 months to help you determine better ways of practicing your business and leadership skills.

Dedicate the time

As Arnold Schwarzenegger once famously said, “Nobody ever made their muscles bigger by reading a book about weightlifting.” You’ve got to get in the gym, and you’ve got to take it seriously. The same for developing leadership and business acumen skills.

Review the feedback with a coach or expert facilitator

Business simulations provide great feedback. That feedback is even stronger with coaches to help evaluate your practices. Think about the NFL and how much time is spent reviewing practices, game films, and giving feedback.

Do multiple “runs”

The beauty of great simulations is that you can do them over and over trying different things and pulling different levers to see how you get different results.

Benchmark yourself

Great simulations give you qualitative and quantitative feedback. Use that data to benchmark yourself. Just last week, we had a team going through our pharmaceutical simulation and they hit the all-time high stock price for the simulation. Everyone in the class wanted to go through it again and benchmark themselves against the all-time high. Imagine for a moment people wanted more practice and training!

Keep a journal for when you apply new skills back on the job

Developing skills through practice is only beneficial if you are using the skills back on the job. Keep a journal for every time you’ve made a better decision based on your practice and you will be amazed. You can also use that journal to identify the next set of skills that need practice. I bet there is a simulation for that!

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Robert Brodo

About The Author

Robert Brodo is co-founder of Advantexe. He has more than 20 years of training and business simulation experience.