Lessons From Dungeons & Dragons
How Being a Game Master Makes You a Better Leader
I’ve recently fallen into my new role as game master for City of Mist, which is a tabletop RPG, or role-playing game (like Dungeons & Dragons) for those of you who don’t speak nerd. As I’ve been organizing and overseeing these City of Mist game nights with my friends, it’s gotten me thinking. The skills needed to be a game master are deeply aligned with those needed to be a great leader, so let’s explore the similarities.
Here’s how being a game master helps you become a better leader:
It Teaches You to Be Organized
As a game master, you schedule times to meet and get the players together. You organize where the characters go, who they encounter, what challenges they face, and the monsters they meet. Just like in leadership, you make the schedule, put the plan together, and gather the team.
It Teaches You to Be Adaptive
Just as in life, after all your meticulous planning, the players inevitably decide to go in a different direction. Did you have a Plan B, C, D? Surprise! They often go with none of them, and the story doesn’t stop there. It needs to keep going, so you learn to adapt, keeping them entertained and challenged. It’s no different than being a leader and keeping projects on track and employees busy.
It Teaches You to Be Creative
Designing puzzles, traps, problems, and dilemmas for the players to face takes creativity. Even if you run a pre-written adventure, the characters may head off in directions you never dreamed of, challenging your innovation skills. When working in teams, you constantly face problems and challenges, so it’s important to pivot and think creatively.
It Teaches You to Lead and Serve Diverse Teams
As a game master, your players’ characters are diverse in attitudes, wants, needs, and desires. What drives one person’s satisfaction won’t work for another. As a leader, it’s your job to understand motivation. Does your wizard like puzzles? Does your fighter want all combat, all the time? Is your bard looking for intrigue? You can’t give everyone what they want all the time, but you can find a balance that keeps them engaged and enjoying the experience. Plus, if you can make a battle that’s a puzzle with intrigue, that’s just bonus points.
Having these skills not only teaches you to manage people, but also to maximize your team’s interest with the tasks at hand. That’s being a great leader – keeping your team engaged while making an awesome product.