January 24, 2023

Leaders Learn from Other Leaders


Have you ever been placed in a stressful situation? Well, of course, you have experienced stressful situations. But, have you been placed in a stressful situation with 30 individuals with whom you have never worked in an unfamiliar environment?

I recently had the unique opportunity to experience that situation. As a member of the Leadership Pasco Class of 2023, we recently participated in SIMSOC. What is SIMSOC?

Well, SIMSOC stands for Simulated Society. According to William A. Gamson, the simulation creator, SIMSOC is a “dynamic group simulation game that forces participants to cope with the daily problems of governing society.”

The exciting aspect of the simulation is there are no programmed outcomes. Instead, success or failure entirely depends upon the actions of teams and individuals. So how do you achieve success? Individuals, as well as teams, must work together to create a society that meets the needs of all citizens.

Okay, it doesn’t sound like a stressful situation. I know it sounds simple on the surface. However, I want you to imagine working with 30 individuals you don’t know. Yes, we meet once a month to learn about our county and network; however, our conversations are focused on the month’s topic. For example, November’s focus was Infrastructure Day.

To make things a little more interesting, we traveled over two hours to a campsite I refer to as “rustic chic” to spend two days working through the simulation. So, we are working with semi-strangers in a strange environment to build a society.

What could go wrong? Well, many things! During the simulation, we were assigned to one of four regions. Also, we were given different roles in the simulation.

Throughout the simulation, we struggled with challenging issues like abuse of power, justice, diversity, leadership, and trust while working through labor-management strife, political turmoil, and a pandemic.

I know you are wondering how did we do? Well, I would love to tell you we came together and created a utopia for every citizen, but our start was not great. We crashed our society after two of the national indicators dropped below one. However, we came together after a reset and created a thriving society.

So how did we turn things around? First, we did some self-reflection on our motives. We checked our egos and put the needs of society over our own. Next, we reflected on our performance and how we could improve. Finally, we worked to find common ground and created quick wins.

As we built momentum, we began to see our national indicators improve. When the simulation concluded, we exceeded the results of most previous teams.

“Leaders are learners, willing to learn from their mistakes, make adjustments, and forge ahead.”

– Dr. Moses Simuyemba

While we finished strong, our real learning occurred during our debrief. It was a time of reflection, an environment to challenge our thinking and learn from other leaders.

After the debrief concluded, we left with a deeper understanding of ourselves, each other, and the needs of society.

Are you learning from other leaders?


Want more expert educational leadership guidance? View the Moore Leadership Moment on YouTube.

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Dr. Kim Moore

About the author

I'm Kim, your Educational Leadership Guide. I equip educational leaders with research-based and experientially learned educational leadership principles and best practices to promote student success.