Pizzie Case Study #1: Do Leadership Skills Honed in Pharmaceutical R&D Transfer to being Clan Leader in Clash of Clans?
Whether you are leading 400 highly skilled professionals or 50 school kid/granddads from a dozen different countries, the principles of leadership are universal: People want to know where they are going and why. They want the rules to be clear and enforced. They want to know how to progress. And, most of all, they want to be supported and feel like they are part of something special.
Want to know the whole story? Then read on...
In December of 2013 I “retired” from the leadership of the clinical supply function of a very large pharmaceutical company to start Brizzey LLC, a consulting company, with a couple of very talented partners.
All of a sudden I was no longer the leader of an organization of approximately 400 professionals!
I have been in the industry for 30 years and for 27 of them I have had a managerial role of some description. For most of those years I have also tried to be a leader. Not an easy thing. Sometimes (I think) I have done well and at other times (I know) I have not done so well. During this time though, I have had the good fortune to be led by, and to observe, some pretty wonderful leaders and I have developed my thoughts on what it takes to be a good leader.
But now, I lead no one. It’s just me, my computer and my two partners.
So, did I say that I have always been interested in games and military history? Well it should come as no surprise then, that in this age of iPad’s and smart phones, I am a big fan of the game “Clash of Clans” from SUPERCELL. If you have never played it, or if you have never heard of it, the concept is simple; you build a village, build defences, make an army and attack other players to gain resources (to build ever bigger and better defences and armies). The clever part is that you can join a clan with up to 49 other players and support each other by donating troops and sharing advice through a very basic messaging system. It is truly a blast! I have been playing for two years and have been a member of a clan with about ten members called TOON Army for most of that time.
Well at the end of 2013 three things happened. Not only did I leave big pharma, but SUPERCELL launched Clan Wars which allowed Clans to go head to head in wars for glory (and loot!) AND the Clan Leader of TOON Army left and put me in charge! The launch of Clan Wars spiked interest in the game and before we knew it we had 50 members in our clan ranging in age from 8 to 56 who lived in Europe, the USA, Asia and South America. Needless to say things did not go well and we lost three wars on the trot! The Clan members were not communicating, they were not aligned and they were not happy…and…it suddenly occurred to me…I was not leading!
I decided to try to apply everything that I had learned about leadership to my responsibility as Clan Leader. After all, I had the time!
I got to know the Clan (at least those who would chat with me). I tried to find out who was mature, shared my views in where the clan should be going and was interested in leading. I described a vision: “this clan is about supporting each other, helping the weaker players grow, so that the clan grows stronger and wins more wars”. I described a code of conduct: “no profanity and no abuse of any other player”. I promoted several of the older players to be “elders” with the express job of coaching the younger players. I described a “career path” with measurable criteria for how players could get to be elders and even co-leader. I reviewed clan member performance and praised them for their successes and their failures (with some free coaching added in on how to succeed next time). I “booted” several players who did not act in accordance with the vision or code of conduct. Most of all I was “present” as much as I could be and made sure that I delivered on anything I said I would do. I led by example by donating three times as many troops as I received. Did it work? We have won fourteen wars out of eighteen and eight on the trot! Clan members are texting each other through the game all the time and not just about Clash of Clans! A community has developed within the Clan! Just this weekend a seventeen year old clan member based in the US messaged that it “Was the best Clan he had been in”!
What did I learn from this experience? First, if your text messaging is limited to 125 characters your vision statement and code of conduct has to be succinct! But most importantly, whether you are leading 400 highly skilled professionals or 50 school kid/granddads from a dozen different countries, the principles of leadership are universal: People want to know where they are going and why. They want the rules to be clear and enforced. They want to know how to progress. And, most of all, they want to be supported and feel like they are part of something special.
I hope you enjoyed my “case study” and observations. If you have a few minutes, try Clash of Clans, you might enjoy it!
Rob Pizzie - June 2014