An escape room is an immersive adventure game where a group of participants is locked in a themed room and must work together to solve a series of puzzles, find clues, and accomplish tasks to “escape” the room within a set time limit. When used thoughtfully, escape rooms can serve as engaging and insightful corporate team building events that identify and develop leadership qualities within corporate teams. Here are five ways in which escape rooms achieve this:

1. Decision Making

Leaders often need to make informed and decisive choices. Escape rooms present a series of complex puzzles and challenges that require participants to analyze information, identify patters, and make decisions on how to proceed. The interconnected nature of these challenges encourages participants to prioritize and make decisions based on information available, honing their problem-solving and decision-making skills. Participants often encounter situations in escape rooms where they need to take calculated risks. Deciding when to try a new approach, explore an unfamiliar area, or invest time in a particular puzzle involves risk assessment. Furthermore, escape rooms may have consequences for decisions made by participants. A wrong choice or a delay in solving a puzzle may impact the overall success of the team. Experiencing the consequences of decisions reinforces the importance of making thoughtful and strategic choices. On top of this, escape rooms impose time constraints, creating a sense of urgency for the experience. Participants must make decisions quickly and efficiently to progress within the given timeframe. This element simulates real-world scenarios where time pressure is a factor, helping individuals to develop the ability to make decisions under stress.

2. Task Delegation and Coordination

Leaders must be able to identify team members’ strengths, delegate tasks accordingly, and coordinate efforts for maximum efficiency. Escape room scenarios frequently involve a mix of puzzles that may require specific skills or knowledge or that need simultaneous attention. This requires the ability to assess each team member’s capabilities, assign responsibilities accordingly, and ensure that everyone is contributing effectively. To succeed, team members must communicate their findings, progress, and challenges. This necessitates not only effective delegation but also coordination through constant information sharing. Through escape rooms, participants learn the importance of concise and timely communication to achieve common goals.

3. Adaptability to Challenges

Leaders must be adaptable and be able to guide their teams through unforeseen obstacles. Escape rooms often incorporate unexpected twists or changes in the scenario, introducing new challenges or altering existing ones. Escape rooms may also involve trial and error as participants experiment with different approaches to solve puzzles. This iterative approach allows individuals to learn from their mistakes, adjust their strategies, and adapt to the demands of the room. Embracing a trial-and-error mindset promotes resilience and a willingness to adapt based on the feedback received from the room’s challenges. The escape room setting can provide insights into team members’ adaptability and leadership under dynamic conditions.

4. Communication and Direction

Effective communication requires clear articulation of ideas and is crucial for leadership. In an escape room, participants must express their thoughts, observations, and insights to the team. The ability to convey information concisely and accurately is essential for collaboration. Success in escape rooms often rely on coordinated actions based on clear direction. Participants must take turns leading and following instructions. This requires providing guidance in a way that is easily understood by the team members. Escape rooms also emphasize the importance of active listening as the team works together to solve puzzles. Listening to teammates’ suggestions, acknowledging their contributions, and incorporating their insights into the decision-making process are crucial aspects of effective communication. In some cases, escape rooms may incorporate puzzles that require non-verbal communication. Participants may need to use gestures, symbols, or visual cues to convey information. Navigating and adapting to different communication styles is essential for effective collaboration. Escape rooms provide a context in which participants can learn to recognize and accommodate various communication preferences.

5. Reflective Learning and Debriefing

Leaders must be able to facilitate discussions, extract key insights, and guide the team towards continuous improvement. Conducting a debriefing session after completing an escape room can help participants gain insights into their own and their team’s dynamics. Participants can reflect on their roles, contributions, and the impact of their skills to the overall success of the group. Discussing the team’s performance and analyzing feedback can encourage participants to reflect on their actions and consider alternative approaches for future challenges. Reflective learning in the context of an escape room experience can help individuals understand their leadership styles and areas for development.

Leaders must guide their teams, delegate tasks, and adapt to challenges. The escape room experience provides a practical and engaging way for individuals to enhance their leadership skills and gain insights into their strengths and areas for improvement.