The Positive Leadership Game

September 29, 2015

By: Jennifer Evans

Last week I was joined by Ross Staff for one of the “It Works When You Work It” series.  We played the Positive Leadership game and found our experience to be quite profound. Clearly you know the power of the principles on the cards and also the power of play that fuels the game.  Both of these beautifully played out the other day so I thought you might like to know how your work and game impacted us.

During my turn after people had offered their suggestions to me, I paused to share my observations and feelings and asked about theirs.  They agreed that they too were touched by our shared experience.

The suggestion each person gave and their ability to apply the principle to one another’s situations was very sophisticated – it was deep, rich and sincere. We agreed that it was significantly different from the feedback and advice people usually give one another.  It was “lifted.”

We noticed that the game format allowed a certain directness that challenged the belief the person appeared to hold and the feelings they expressed as they told their story. I was surprised at how open the receiver was to both hearing these stretching ideas and receiving them non- defensively.  In a social or even professional situation that generally would not have happened that way, neither would the person have offered such a challenge nor would the other have received it so openly.

I was touched as were they, that what was offered was really wise and the way it was offered was deep and caring.  We are not generally invited to share our wisdom in the workplace and it was such a beautiful thing to hear. This was really remarkable and I think the opportunity to contribute is a gift yes, but to contribute our wisdom exceeds even that.

I think that because it is a game and we are used to following the rules of a game people generally held to the constraints of time and structure which impacted how we told the story, how we gave the feedback and how we received the feedback. People didn’t spin off too far into the story, or start giving advice outside of the card or offer opinions. Nor did they receive the suggestion with “yes but” kind of responses.  The rich and positive offerings that we gave to one another were left clear, undiluted and “on the table.”

As we followed the rule that asks each person to choose a winning card, I watched how in the process of choosing there was consideration and integration and we started to own the new approach.  And with the final choice a small commitment was made.  As we played I had the idea to have people put the card they chose into a self-addressed envelope – I’ll mail them a copy next week. I expect that reading that card again will elicit some bit of memory of the wisdom we received and possible shift in approach that we each considered.