In contemporary leadership, one generation emerges as a force to be reckoned with. Millennials (aged 27 to 42 as of 2023), often portrayed as tech-savvy and unconventional, have swiftly ascended the ranks in various industries, bringing a unique perspective to the table. An intriguing aspect of this generation’s rise to leadership is their shared affinity for a seemingly unrelated realm – video games. Studies show that a significant percentage of millennials are avid gamers, and they are seamlessly integrating the lessons and skills acquired from their digital adventures into the world of business management. This article explores the fascinating connection between millennials, gaming, and transformative leadership.

In the world of role-playing games (RPGs), adventurers embark on epic quests, defeat formidable foes, and ultimately grow in power and wisdom. As a legal expert and head of training in South Africa’s labour law landscape, I’ve had my share of complex negotiations and legal battles. But did you know that my passion for RPGs and video games has taught me valuable lessons about business management, leadership, productivity, and personal growth?

Quest for Goals and Objectives: Defining a Clear Path

In both RPGs and business management, setting clear goals and objectives is essential for success. Just as adventurers in an RPG embark on quests with specific objectives, business leaders are the ones to define their company’s mission and vision. When it comes to productivity, these goals must be broken down into actionable tasks. Much like a quest log in an RPG, a well-structured to-do list helps leaders and employees stay organised and focused on completing tasks efficiently. Tip: Employ goal-setting frameworks like SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) to make objectives clear and actionable. Encourage your team to break larger goals into manageable tasks, akin to quests on a to-do list.

Tracking Your Daily Activities: Progress and Growth

In RPGs, tracking progress is second nature. Players monitor their character’s experience points, equipment, skills, and quest completion. In business and personal growth, tracking daily activities and achievements is equally crucial. Tools like task management apps, vision boards or journals can help individuals and teams monitor their progress, identify areas for improvement, and celebrate milestones. This tracking provides a sense of accomplishment, fuels motivation, and ensures continuous growth. Tip: Utilise task management apps, physical vision boards or journals to monitor daily activities. Encourage regular reviews to celebrate achievements, reflect on progress, and identify areas for improvement. This habit fuels motivation and growth.

Building the Right Party: Cultivating a Productive Team

In RPGs, assembling the right team of characters with diverse skills and abilities is critical to overcoming challenges. Similarly, in business, effective leaders build teams with complementary strengths. A well-rounded team can tackle a variety of tasks, from marketing to finance, ensuring the company’s success. Productivity in this context means placing the right team members in roles where they can excel and contribute to the overall mission. Tip: In cultivating a productive team, you must assess your team’s strengths and weaknesses, assign tasks that align with individual skills and abilities to foster a sense of purpose and contribution, and strive for a well-rounded team with a diverse set of talents.

Games Reward You for Your Efforts: Motivation through Achievement

RPGs excel at rewarding players for their efforts. Achieving a difficult goal or defeating a powerful foe often results in in-game rewards and a sense of accomplishment. In the context of business and personal growth, recognising and rewarding achievements can significantly boost motivation and productivity. This can range from simple acknowledgements to tangible rewards or promotions, creating a positive feedback loop that encourages individuals to push their boundaries and achieve more. Tip: Implement a recognition and rewards program in your workplace. Acknowledge and appreciate employees’ hard work, whether through verbal praise, bonuses, or promotions. Recognising achievements motivates and drives productivity.

Variety and Novelty: Staying Engaged and Creative

RPGs are known for their variety and novelty, with new challenges, environments, and storylines awaiting at every turn. When it comes to business as well as personal growth, incorporating variety and novelty can prevent stagnation and enhance creativity. Leaders can encourage employees to explore new projects, adopt innovative approaches, and embrace change. Novel experiences stimulate the mind and foster personal and professional growth. Tip: Encourage a culture of innovation within your organisation. Promote brainstorming sessions, cross-functional projects, and opportunities for employees to explore new ideas and approaches. Novel experiences stimulate creativity and growth.

Consistently Being Challenged: Finding the Sweet Spot

RPGs excel at providing a consistent challenge that matches a player’s current skill level or slightly exceeds it, which makes it addictive in the sense that it keeps pushing you to achieve that “little bit more”. This balance keeps players engaged as they continuously strive to conquer increasingly difficult obstacles. Similarly, in business, it’s crucial to find that sweet spot in a challenge. In the ideal world, tasks should be challenging enough to inspire growth but not so overwhelming that they discourage progress. To an extent, leaders can tailor tasks to individual skill levels to promote continuous improvement. You can do this by breaking larger goals into manageable, actionable tasks. Tip: Where it’s possible to tailor specific tasks to individual skill levels, one can gradually increase the challenge or workload as the employees grow. Provide clear objectives, guidance, and a sense of priority to maintain the right level of challenge without initially overwhelming the employees with multiple tasks.

Social Aspect: Collaboration and Teamwork

Many RPGs incorporate a social aspect, allowing players to collaborate with others to overcome challenges. In business, fostering a collaborative environment encourages teamwork and innovation. Leaders should promote open communication, knowledge sharing, and a sense of community within their teams. Collaborative efforts enhance productivity and create a supportive network for personal growth. Tip: Foster a collaborative environment through open communication and knowledge sharing. This can be done on a platform that all employees have access to. Organise team-building activities and cross-functional projects to encourage teamwork. A supportive network enhances productivity and personal growth and provides freedom of expression, promoting a healthy workplace.

Feelings of Autonomy and Control: Empowering Individuals

In RPGs, players often have a degree of autonomy and control over their character’s actions and decisions. Similarly, in business and personal growth, individuals thrive when they have a sense of autonomy and control over their work and development. Leaders can empower their teams by providing autonomy within defined parameters, allowing individuals to take ownership of their tasks and growth plans. This autonomy fosters a sense of responsibility and ownership that drives productivity and personal development. Tip: Be careful not to micromanage your team. It’s crucial for leaders to be able to take a “step back” and allow their team the freedom to express their creativity and productivity in a way that they are efficient in. Empower your team by providing autonomy within defined boundaries. Encourage employees to take ownership of their work and growth plans. Regularly solicit their input and involve them in decision-making processes, promoting a sense of control and responsibility. Trust is essential in this regard and can be easily seen where leaders are comfortable taking that “step back” and allowing their team to operate without direct supervision or involvement.

A Heroic Journey to Success

The journey of leadership and business management is filled with challenges, victories, and continuous learning. By embracing the practical insights from the world of video games, leaders can become more effective and resilient, while individuals can boost their productivity and nurture personal growth. So, gear up, sharpen your sword of leadership, and embark on your heroic journey. Your quest awaits.

By Carl Ranger

Head of Training at Consolidated Employers Organisation (CEO SA)