Unless you have turned off all electronics, have not read a newspaper, or have not stepped outside your door for weeks, everyone has heard of the new addiction called Pokémon Go, the app that lets you wander the streets, workplace, and outdoors searching for imaginary creatures to catch. Now, think back to not even a month ago. If a coworker told you that they spent hours staring at their screens walking around trying to ‘throw’ imaginary balls at an object that was not really there, you may have raised a questioning eyebrow, but by now it has become part of a normal day to see individuals actively searching for or running after Pokémon.

What Pokémon Go Taught Me about Leadership

After observing this phenomenon for several days, I found several connections to leadership.

  • To succeed, you must imagine outside of the box: Have you ever made a statement to a coworker and they responded with “there’s an app for that” without even taking a breath? To change how people think or relate to objects, you need to think broader and with greater imagination. If you have a wild idea, contemplate how you could make it work, rather than why it would not. The more outrageous the idea, the more likely you are to stumble across something new and exciting.
  • Let ideas flow freely: Think about it, you’re sitting in a board meeting and someone suggests something out of left field, like creating a game that interacts with your phone’s camera so that a creature can land in your current surroundings, on your front porch, in a field, on your best friend’s shoulder. This was something never thought of before, and could have been easily dismissed by those higher up in leadership positions, but they took the time to ponder the suggestion and determine how to actually make it come to fruition.
  • Make it engaging: Whether you are having a one-on-one conversation, creating a presentation, or preparing a proposal, make it something that gets you and those around you excited and engaged. Your genuine enthusiasm on the topic will get others interested and often intrigued by what comes next. Pokémon Go quickly gained its momentum because one person downloaded the app and showed it to friends, family, and coworkers who happily joined in and recruited others on their quest. The same dynamics apply to business. It is very hard to make it on your own, but if you have a dedicated team and you are all striving for the same goal, then the momentum continues to grow.
  • Don’t forget about the big picture: As wonderfully entertaining as this app is, it also has a tendency to get individuals so engrossed in the minutiae of the game that they forget to look out for obvious pitfalls. For example, we have all witnessed individuals walking literally down the middle of the road, their faces glued to the screen, not even realizing what danger they could be in if a car came around the corner too quickly, or we have read reports about accidents that occurred because someone was playing Pokémon while driving! We have all done something similar, though maybe not as obvious in our work, where we have concentrated so much on a small detail that we failed to see the real issue at hand. Remember to look up every now and again to see how what you are doing is affecting the overall picture, and to check if you are still going in the right direction or whether you need to change course in order to catch that elusive Pikachu.