Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Role Playing in Leadership

Yesterday, we were in our leadership discussing a case about an aggressive investment banker, "Rob Parson", who was being abbrasive but accomplishing the job by increasing the firms revenue and market share. However, the issue was his attitude and fit into the culture of his firm, Morgan Stanley.

Our professor asked two of us to role play, one to be the manager and one to be the banker. She asked the class: "Who can channel Rob Parson?" and there was a humming of my name in the class. A friend sitting next to me kept poking me to raise my hand up so I finally did. The professor looked over to me and asked me if I wanted to play the role of Rob, the investment banker, as long as I didn't use "inappropriate language" (even though that is what happened in the actual case).

My classmate, Sid, played the role of the manager and was sitting a few seats to my left. The chalk board was covered with notes from our discussion and we immediately began to draw down arguements in defending our positions:

"You don't fit into our culture, we want you to be more like us to work better with us."
"If you want me to be more like you, then you want a market share of 2%!"
"You don't treat people well and they don't want to work with you! I can't promote you!"
"The industry has expectations and we need to move faster! You need to decide if you want an investment banking division!"

By the end, our discussion got really heated and we lost ourselves in the moment as we really had at each other. The teacher halted the conversation and took over to show us what actually happened in the case: Rob walked out of the room.

Our classmates were generous with their applause, but it was an intense exercise. Sid and I shook hands over a great debating challenge where tempers rose and it was a lot of fun.

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