By: Dr. Vishal Saxena
On a bright Saturday morning, the 4th day of August 2018, Xavier University School of Medicine had an innovative faculty development workshop on the enchanting de Palm island of Aruba conducted by Dr Malpe Surekha Bhat.
One of the sessions at the workshop was the “Jump in, Jump out” leadership building- oriented game. Since all faculty were expected to participate, the spouses of the faculty (two ladies, Mrs Sujata Saxena and Mrs Brie Pawlak) were identified to help Dr Bhat. The XUSOM family comprising of around 20 individuals (including few spouses of the faculty members) participated in the group activity.
The participants were invited to get into a circle. In the first round, the instructions by the leader to the group were: “SAY WHAT I SAY, AND DO WHAT I SAY.” i.e. if the leader says ‘Jump in”, the entire group says ‘Jump in’ and jumps inwards holding hands. If the leader says “Jump right”, the entire group says “Jump right” and jumps rightwards. Jump in, jump out, jump right, jump left were the four possible instructions. This round seemed quite simple and proceeded smoothly.
In the second round, the instructions by the leader to the group were: “SAY WHAT I SAY AND DO THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT I SAY.” i.e. if the leader says ‘Jump in”, the entire group says ‘Jump in’ but jumps outwards holding hands. This round witnessed some tumultuous uproar by participants over the confusion faced in saying one thing and doing the opposite.
In the third round, the instructions by the leader to the group were: “SAY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT I SAY, AND DO WHAT I SAY.” Needless to say – the same amusement again, the same tumultuous uproar, the same confusions!
‘And now”, said the facilitator, ‘we will change the leader’. The jumping repeated in the same fashion but at the command of a different leader. The facilitator even threw open the option for one of the participating faculty, Ms. Kendra Parson, to be the leader and repeat the same set of jumps a third time.
As we stood wondering what the facilitator was now upto, “We are not done yet!” said the facilitator with a cheeky smile. ‘Remain in the circle; we are not jumping again but we are not done yet’! “Dr Andrade, since you are a Behavioural Science faculty, I will first ask you to comment on what you observed”. Dr Andrade replied ‘Well, the first round was less confusing because we were saying what the leader said and doing what the leader said’. Dr Bhat nodded in the affirmative. “Did this change when we change the leaders?” The group agreed that the first round was the easiest and the simplest every time. “You see! If we are to extend this exercise to an office situation – when you say what the leader says and do what the leader says, the team performs the best. When you say what the leader says but do the opposite, the team goes disoriented and performance goes down. In the third round what happened? There are some prankster employees in every office. They don’t intend anything bad; they just want to play pranks. They will say the opposite of what the leader says but actually do what the leader says. Even this can mess up the performance. We changed the leader twice. But the outcome was the same, not in terms of overall performance but in terms of relative performance in the three rounds. The best was still the first round with every leader. This means that the leader no doubt has a responsibility to lead the team but it is the team members which keep the performance going, it is the unity of the team which determines the outcome.”
Rightly said! Even with three different leaders, the result of the first rounds were similar, as there was minimal confusion and quiet a clarity of thought while following the leader’s instructions. There was not much of conflict observed and harmony was at peak amongst the group members as well as with the leader; wherein in the second and third round, there was a higher level of chaos, mistakes and confusion but of course triggering tons of laughter.
The whole exercise displayed the difficulty of staying focused and resisting the temptation to do what others around you are doing or confusing voices are instructing. All participants in the game had to concentrate throughout the game to play as much as possible. Otherwise, they would quickly lose.
The game set an exemplary platform as to how very effective lessons can be conveyed across the audience in a very lighter vein environment. It activated listening and communication skills while letting the group have fun and laugh at their own mistakes.
The team building, hilarious energizer game developed the quality of attention and focus in the participants; generated unparalleled enthusiasm, and comradeship in a relaxing atmosphere creating a feeling of beautiful harmony in the XUSOM family in a sheer single master stroke.
The game also taught that it takes focus, dedication and leadership to avoid negative peer pressure and to choose to do the right thing. The undercurrent message was loud and clear that when a team listens, adheres, and carries out the commands given by the good leader immaculately and to the last word, the outcomes are excellent, viz a viz a scenario wherein no matter how good the leader is, if the team does not respond appropriately to his/her commands, the final results fall like a pack of cards!