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Experiential Learning Activities for Leadership

experiential learning activities for leadership

Photo by Maxime Bhm

Here at ESCAPE Newport News we do a lot of leadership development work with teams. Part of this is due to the years of experience I have as a leadership consultant and an executive coach, but it’s also because one of the most perfect, experiential learning activities for leadership is escape rooms.

We can all agree that learning leadership through books and case studies is about as useful as learning surgery by talking to that guy you met at that one party who had an opinion about everything — he’s got a lot to say, but you won’t finish the conversation ready to pick up the scalpel.

This is why we focus exclusively on experiential learning activities for leadership. Action-based learning (like an escape room when it is facilitated within a powerful context and aligned with your team’s goals) is a shared experience that produces trusting relationships, fun, and new team member behaviors. Let’s look at those three results, and how they come together.

1. TRUSTING RELATIONSHIPS
There’s plenty of research that shows that when we learn something, we get happier. When we spend time with other people, we bond. When we engage in experiential learning activities for leadership (learn something) while spending time with other people (specifically the people we’re out to produce a result with), we all become happier and brain-wired (scientists say we’re dopamine-bonded) to each other. We begin to see each other as a source of future happiness.

Neurological bonding creates a resilient trust, and opens up collaboration possibilities that didn’t exist before.

Photo by Julian Gentilezza

2. TEAM-BUILDING AND FUN
The first thing we’re going to do when learning together is have a load of fun. A 2016 Forbes article on experiential leadership learning says, “The most successful, memorable team-building events are ones that don’t feel like a day at the office.” We agree fully, because leadership doesn’t happen inside a leader. Leadership happens as a relationship between leader and team, and team happens as a relationship between peers.

This is one reason so many teams are choosing escape rooms for team-building — the fun atmosphere opens our minds to learning, the puzzle solving has us learning together, and new possibilities come into being.

3. EXPERIENCES THAT INCREASE INTELLIGENCE
We’re also going to make sure that we learn leadership in ways that challenge our brains to think in new ways. It’s no surprise that the more training the team does, the more benefits their brain gets. However, training someone on their actual work task over and over does not increase their intelligence. The greatest transfer of intelligence, it turns out, is through non-related task training. We need intelligence increases so that our teams can come up with efficiency measures, new revenue streams, and all the other important activities that leaders do.

When we play an escape room for team-building purposes, we are engaging in exactly the kinds of activities shown to increase intelligence. Regardless of the length of the training, the research shows that the benefits stay reliable long after practicing ended.

Put into proper context, we believe peak experiences like escape rooms can be a source of deep personal transformation for you and your team. Whether we bring an ESCAPE-to-GO™ to your company office, or you come to us and enjoy an escape room for team-building, you get all of the above benefits and more. Let’s play, learn, and get smarter together.

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