In escape rooms, our natural leadership styles arise as the clock winds down, and we try our best to rally our teammates towards success. Psychologist Kurt Lewin conducted research on leadership in 1939 so insightful that it still remains relevant to this day. The three styles he described as the following. Do you know what kind of leader you are? Let’s find out!
- authoritarian leader
- the democratic leader
- the laissez-faire leader
If you can guess, a laissez-faire leader offers little guidance and leaves decision-making up to the group. More like the anti-leader, am I right? Since this type of leadership is basically for loafers who do little to lead, we’ll focus on the authoritarian and democratic styles of leadership, who are actually putting in work, like you, dear leader.
Your Favorite Type of Boss
Authoritarian leaders can also be described as dictator-like. They clearly divide or set up a hierarchy between themselves and the team members, and they set goals and make decisions independently or with minimal input from members. Authoritarian leaders also tend to make their teams work under close supervision aka micromanaging aka every employee’s Favorite trait for their boss to have.
Your *Actual* Favorite Type of Boss
A democratic leader, on the other hand, encourages and facilitates the sharing of knowledge among members and believe everyone has something valuable to contribute. When democratic leaders set goals, they explain the reasoning behind their decisions and do not dictate. These leaders tend to celebrate achievements as they happen, highlighting the group’s successes and avoiding placing the blame on individuals for failures along the way.
Why Dictators are Awesome!
It’s important to note that while these leadership styles are very different from each other, neither is going to lead to success in escape rooms across the board. Authoritarian leadership can work well when quick decisions need to be made, without pausing to gather everyone’s opinions. And quick decisions often need to happen in escape rooms, especially during the final minutes. Sometimes teams need to make decisions quickly because any decision is better than no decision.
“Well you can’t manage me because I’m the manager!” – ?
Authoritarian leadership can also work well for a player who has expertise in the task at hand that needs to be solved. On the downside though, team members feel like their expertise and input is overlooked, leading to weaker motivation for the team’s success. There is a lack of creativity in solutions overall, which leads to the ultimate failure for the group. Whomp whomp.
But Wait, Democracy!
Democratic leadership is awesome because it generates more creative solutions for puzzles, which increases the likelihood of success, due to the higher volume of input from participants. Additionally, the input from introverts is valued and used, which often includes correct solutions (go introverts! 😉
A downside to democratic leadership is that it is often not the most efficient way to reach goals and formulate solutions. Especially in an escape room when the clock is looming around every corner, it may be better to use this type of leadership during the beginning of the game when there is still plenty of time left. America!
Be the Queen or King that You Are
Do one of these styles seem to resonate with you more than the other? If you really want to up your leadership game, it would serve you well to be flexible and adapt your style to the task at hand. During escape rooms, both leadership styles may be needed during different puzzles or timepoints. If you tend to be a democratic leader but time is running out, don’t be afraid to rein your members in and be directive. If you tend to be an authoritarian leader, your quick decision-making skills may help against the clock, but don’t forget to encourage input from all members, especially introverts, and to focus on the victories rather than the failures.
As you can see, escape rooms are a fantastic and fun way to practice different types of leadership and to facilitate successful and efficient decision-making within groups. Effective leadership navigating escape rooms lead to greater group cohesion, stronger coworker relations, and more creative input from the group. Sounds goo? Bring your team to Reason and put it all together in your next sci-fi adventure!