Murder mystery holds the clues to effective leadership

27 July 2017

What can we learn about leadership from a murder mystery? Quite a lot according to Deakin University leadership expert Dr Andrea North-Samardzic.

Dr Andrea North-Samardzic, a lecturer with the Deakin Business School, is taking the novel approach of using a murder mystery to expose students to the vagaries of leadership in a Deakin University FutureLearn MOOC ‘What is Leadership?’

“It would be great if there were a few simple steps to follow to become a leader but the reality is that leadership is an extremely complicated concept that can take years and a lot of hard work to master,” Dr North-Samardzic said.

“Many people stumble in their leadership efforts because they are not in tune to an often overlooked reality that leadership, good or bad, is in the eye of the beholder.

“This is why there is no one best way of being a leader. Due to the way we as individuals see the world, even when we are exposed to the same stimuli and information, we have the innate capacity to view and interpret it differently.

“Someone who is seen as a great leader by one person could be experienced by another as a tyrant; a leader may think they have a great rapport with their team, yet their staff cower at the thought of having to deal with them.

“So perceptions shape the way we view and enact leadership at work, and it is here that the murder mystery comes into play.”

Playing on the workplace refrain “my boss is going to kill me” the murder mystery highlights how individual views, biases and experiences influence how the actions and behaviours of leaders are perceived.

“The murder mystery provides a perfect way to expose students to the way people can be at the same place, at the same time and still come away with different opinions about what actually happened with each person believing that their version of events is true,” Dr North-Samardzic explained.

“The lesson here for leaders is the importance of self-awareness and understanding the impact their words, actions and perceptions have on others.”

Dr North-Samardzic provides the following self-awareness tips for leaders:

  • Avoid making quick judgements about people and events. Delay decision-making if you can and gather more information.
  • Collect and consciously use more information about people and events before arriving at decisions. Make sure you take into account new sources of information to expand your understanding.
  • Develop self-awareness by not only understanding your own personal bias, but also the biases of others. Everyone has blind spots, know what yours are and be mindful of them when making decisions.

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Media release Deakin Business School

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