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Author Monica Wofford says board games teach us a lot about others

Playing board games can teach players leadership lessons, expert says.
by Paula Burkes Modified: March 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm •  Published: March 4, 2014

Want to learn more about your co-workers, say how they might behave when they’re behind? Challenge them to a friendly game of Scrabble — or Words with Friends.

There’s a lot of leadership lessons to be learned from playing board games or their respective mobile apps, according to Monica Wofford, an Orlando, Fla.-based leadership development expert and author of “Make Difficult People Disappear.”

Board games are often long and detailed, just like the execution of a business plan, Wofford said in a phone interview with The Oklahoman on Tuesday. Moreover, they may pit contestants head-to-head or involve multiple players or teams — just like typical businesses, she said.

Either way, “you can see how people react to losing or stress,” if they’re innovative, risk-takers, ambitious, competitive, impatient, methodical or look for shortcuts, Wofford said.

Oklahoma professionals agree.

Tulsa leadership development consultant Jean Kelley said she, after her wedding 34 years ago, learned a lot about her new family by playing Monopoly. “I learned who has to win at all costs, who not to give the role as banker, who won’t take a risk, who’s paranoid, who’s impulsive, who lies, who gives up in the face of adversity and who quits early because they know they can’t win,” she said.

Teresa Moisant, owner of Moisant Promotional Products, said she played a lot of Monopoly as a child and grew tired of a couple of older kids who were always changing the rules to benefit themselves. “I used to say to myself that someday I’d be the one making the rules, but today I vow that I’m not going to do to my employees anything I don’t want done to me,” she said.

Tim Hast, principal of Encore Life Skills LLC in Edmond, said he’s learned much about life strategy by playing games. “Solitaire teaches you how a decision to play this card over that card right now might mean the difference between getting stuck, or being able to play all the cards and complete the game,” Hast said.

“I was the last person in the world to get the Angry Birds app for my phone,” he said. “But the game served to remind me that what seems like an impossible situation is possible, if you take the time to figure out a strategy and not give up.”

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by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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Solitaire teaches you how a decision to play this card over that card right now might mean the difference between getting stuck, or being able to play all the cards and complete the game.”

Tim Hast,
Principal of Encore Life Skills LLC in Edmond


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