155258267_compWe see it all too often: Top level leaders who have all the strategic skills they need to make complicated business decisions, but lack the interpersonal skills required to gain them buy-in for those big ideas. For many, this lack of balance creates a real barrier to success.

So, how do we ensure leaders have the balance of skills they need?

It starts with understanding. While the idea of balanced leadership is one that’s widely accepted as common sense, it can be challenging to sustain. That’s because, while we understand the concept of a balanced approach, when we’re hit with an urgent situation, we fall back on competencies we’re comfortable with.

Yet, it’s in these times of stress, (or moments of leadership leverage, as I like to call them), when leadership can make a major difference in business outcomes. These are the times when being balanced is the most essential and, often, the toughest thing to do.

Fortunately, business simulations provide a powerful way to test leadership balance. Not only do they create a challenging context for leaders to work in; they allow them to see the results of their actions play out over time. In this way, they can experience both the impact of balanced leadership and the level of trust it creates.

Now, having said that, there is a caveat: the simulation must have algorithms that don’t take interpersonal dynamics for granted. Many simulations model only the economic dynamics of a business. And, while that can be helpful in learning about the economic business system, it’s a miss from a leadership perspective.

The best simulations require leaders to assess a challenge, make strategic choices and, most importantly, engage a network of stakeholders (employees, customers, bosses, partners) to deliver on them. Only when strategic AND interpersonal skills are included can leaders build the balanced leadership skills they need when times get tough.

 

Amanda Young Hickman is co-founder of Insight Experience, a Boston-based firm delivering contextually rich, immersive business simulations and learning experiences to accelerate and integrate leadership, business acumen and strategy execution.