Dominoes is a great game to play when you’re hanging out with friends. My wife and I like to play Mexican Train with our friends because it has a nice blend of strategy, surprise, and most of all, allows for easy conversation and fellowship.
The other day a friend of mine shared an interesting analogy about dominoes that caused me to see immediate applications to successful leadership practices.
Leadership is like dominoes in that…
Matching is required — In dominoes the primary objective is to lay down a domino that matches the number of previously played bones. The same is true for successful leadership practices—you need to match the needs of your team members. Team member needs show up in a number of areas: development level on specific goals or tasks, emotional needs, communication styles, learning styles, etc. The goal for the leader is to match the needs of team members by using the right leadership style or practices. When developing people’s skills on goals or tasks, the leader has to use the right blend of directive and supportive behaviors that allow team members to develop their competence and commitment. When communicating, the leader needs to transmit the message in a way team members will understand, internalize, and encourage dedication to the team and its mission. If the employee needs emotional support, then the leader needs to find the right expressions of empathy or encouragement to get the person back on track. Whatever the need, the goal is for the leader to match.
Community is created — Dominoes is a great community-building game. The nature and pace of the game allows conversation to flow among participants, resulting in relationships being built and nurtured over the course of time. Leaders are responsible for creating community with their teams. Leaders are not lone rangers; they are mayors, pastors, coaches, teachers, and other builders of community. Leaders accomplish their work through others and that’s only possible if they help their people see and feel a connection to something bigger than themselves.
The goal is to give it all away — You win a dominoes game when you go out, when you give away all your bones. That’s how leaders win—they give it all away. Power, encouragement, energy, praise, recognition, time, trust, knowledge, help, discipline, wisdom, direction, support…whatever it is, leaders give it away to their people. Successful leadership is not about hoarding what you have, it’s about giving it to others in service of the greater good. There is a universal law that is somewhat paradoxical—the more you give, the more you receive. The act of giving to others and seeing the positive impact in their lives, results in your own tank being refilled to allow you to keep on giving.
Feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts about other leadership applications you see from dominoes or any other game of your choice.