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Don't Stand in Fire: Leadership Lessons From WoW

When we're born, we start learning how this world works by playing. The Tarahumara running tribe in Mexico play a game as a kids that teaches them how to run as a pack, an essential part of their survival.
Often the most memorable lessons are when we fail. In the real world, (especially in business), that can be costly. So why, in something as crucial as leadership, do we not play games to learn this skill where the costs are low? With massively multiplayer games like World of Warcraft we have an opportunity to start learning leadership and make mistakes. Without destroying a thing.
In this talk, I'll share eight leadership lessons I learned by playing WoW and give examples of times, both in-game and in real life, where I applied the lessons (or where I had a pretty epic fail because I didn't).
I didn't set out to learn how to lead in World of Warcraft, but I did. It has paid off in my professional career more than any other training -- and I had one hell of a good time.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. Can you learn to lead in a game?
  2. What are some leadership lessons I learned by playing WoW and leading a guild?
  3. What are the benefits of using WoW as a learning tool?
  4. Examples of eight leadership lessons I learned in WoW, stories of how I learned them in WoW and how I applied them (or failed to apply them) in the real world.
  5. What are some good leadership ideas and skills, in general (put into the context of a game)?



Brian Hawkins, Communications Officer, Indiana University

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