The Sicilian Defense is one of the most common openings in the game of chess. Yet, that doesn’t mean it can be considered routine. In fact, just reading up on all the variations can be positively mind-bending for both beginners and experts alike. But through practice and repetition, players at all levels can develop accountabilities for every move and countermove on the board—the goal being to create the kind of alignment among game pieces that provides the greatest strategic advantage.
Sometimes the best defense literally is a good offense.
Players also have to make key decisions under tight timeframes. By international rules, competitors must make 40 moves within the first two hours of play; then, they are allotted an extra hour to reach move 60. After that, if the game is still in question, a “quicklplay” finish decides the contest.
Whew, that takes a lot of thinking—and decision-making skills—accountabilities as essential to success on the chess board as they are to successful leadership in the boardroom. From experience, we know the “grandmasters of business” possess the knowledge, talent and motivation to lead, but that doesn’t mean they are merely gifted with those skills.
Just as learning the finer points of chess makes the player, the same thing holds true for leadership development. By absorbing new ideas and discovering how they impact organizational success, potentially high-achieving individuals can draw on deeper levels of self-awareness and self-regulation that author Daniel Goleman described as “a cognitive discipline.”
That’s one move straight out of the book.
Others in the field, including Warren Bennis and Peter Senge, whose seminal work, The Fifth Discipline, suggested that “leaders delve inward into their own patterns of thought,” would likely agree internal reflection holds great advantages for leaders-in-training—just as it does for students of the game.
At the very least, there is little chance a leadership development initiative based on these principles ends in a stalemate. Candidates who succeed will clearly display the ability to establish direction, communicate and take decisive action without hesitation. In addition, top tier leaders drive innovation, creativity and growth, while providing a guiding influence that crosses organizational boundaries.
They also take personal responsibility in every pinch.
By becoming adept at sharing ideas and best practices, top leaders keep the rank-and-file engaged in the process. Even better, when they commit to a move, they stand by it—something that takes a fair amount of courage under pressure.
The only losing gambit is standing pat.
To learn more about making the right moves with your leaders, download our eGuide!