Using games to develop leadership potential

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International  April 2014

Takeaways: Leadership skills are enhanced when strategic and systems thinking is applied. Ender Wiggins demonstrates that by thinking as his enemy would he is able to outsmart his opponents. He uses strategy rather than tactics keeping the end goal in mind.

Ender's Game on DVDHave you seen the movie Ender’s Game, based on the Orson Scott Card book? It stars Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff and Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggins. The film is all about leadership, strategy and tactics. Set in the future, it’s the story of “young Ender Wiggin who is recruited by the International Military to lead the fight against the Formics, a genocidal alien race which nearly annihilated the human race in a previous invasion 50 years earlier.”

Ender and his team of geniuses are being trained to fight the final war against the Formics with the goal of preventing them from ever attacking Earth again. The key question is whether or not Ender has the skills to become a leader that others will follow.

Throughout the film, you see examples of Ender using strategic thinking to gain the respect and support of his fellow recruits. Each test the recruits are put through is in the form of a game they play against one another to move to the next level. Ender continually surprises his opponents by thinking like his enemy instead of doing what the enemy expects. He leads by example and by gaining the trust, loyalty and love of his followers. The surprise ending shows yet one more example of Ender’s ability to think more systemically and seek a higher alternative than war and annihilation.

For strategists, this is a must see film. How many examples of strategic thinking can you find in the film? How might you use this to stimulate discussions around leadership and strategy in your organization or with your clients? You can purchase it here for under $5.00.

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