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Can People Learn How to Lead Via Computer Simulations

Nov 9, 2007
Frequently the successes and failures of social organizations, like states, corporations, clubs, army troops, teams, etc., are associated to a great extent to the leadership abilities of their constituents. In every small or large, formal or informal, social organization leadership consists one of the most significant parameters, which determines the organization's cultural values, its operation and its development. For several centuries this topic has been of major concern in a substantial number of social sciences among which are history, sociology, psychology, political science and philosophy.

There is a statement saying that "within a team everyone leads!" This practically means that in the end no one leads. Our typical reaction to such statements is to conclude that leadership, itself, must therefore be absent. That response is not only overly simplistic, it is also false. Leadership, to be present, must not be monolithic. It can be shared. Since it can be shared, there is no law of nature that says that it cannot be universally shared. The issue of whether it is more effective when residing in the hands of one, few, or many, has been debated since the days of ancient civilizations.

The notion that leaders are "born and not made," or that some people cannot learn how to lead, is established in modern culture and shapes peoples' actions. This, apart from being false, is also a rather dangerous idea. Sometimes when we talk about leadership we don't distinguish between leadership, authority and dominance behavior. The capacity for gaining dominance in a social situation is one of the skills that enable people to gain authority. Dominance is not a product in human societies of physical superior ability. Even in chimpanzee societies, dominance is a product of political alliances. It means being able to win the hearts of your fellows through a variety of favors and affiliate behaviors.

Different situations, different cultures, different organizations, at different moments in life, call for different characteristics and require a variety of skills to be utilized by a potential leader. A person may be terrific at exercising leadership as a volleyball team member, yet be awful in exercising leadership in a business environment. Vise versa, this can be applied in the business world. Some terrific business leaders exercise no leadership in their families or in clubs they may belong to, not just because they choose not to, but also because they do not know how to. Those other settings have a diverse set of norms, special authority structures, and offer various adaptive challenges, with which these successful business leaders are unfamiliar.

But, people can learn a great deal about how to deploy whatever skills they do possess and use them in different contexts, if they are adequately taught to recognize and advance them through frequent use. People do not resemble those archaic machines that used to have a maximum capacity level. They can, nowadays, learn a lot on how to use their skills appropriately by entering a computer simulated environment. To place it as simply as possible, leadership education through computer programs is preferred as it resembles the teaching methods used to learn a language or an instrument. One takes whichever talent he or she has and is taught, by having to respond to a set of scenarios, how to maximize logic and talent, and how to deploy them appropriately given the specifics of a situation. Somebody may be a splendid player of Bach and a horrible player of Brahms, but they both know and understand the principles of music theory.
About the Author
Jonathon Hardcastle writes articles on many topics including Science, Nursing, and Aging
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