What kind of manager do you want to be? A fearless leader with a sixth sense for learning the unknown? An empathetic friend who can read a room faster than you’ve read this sentence?
However you see yourself as a leader, poker can help you get (and stay) there.
Making Quick Decisions on Little Information
“Thrives in a fast-paced environment,” “able to rapidly shift priorities,” “can deal with a high level of ambiguity.” Try finding a job description without those phrases these days. Especially a job in a leadership position.
Climbing the corporate ladder—especially getting over the broken rung women face from entry-level positions to management—takes the skill to read a situation and make the right call. Fast. Like, yesterday-fast. That means knowing and playing the odds. Being able to read the hand you were dealt and how to play it to win.
Sound like any game you’ve heard of? ?
Playing poker regularly (especially when there’s no actual money on the line) helps you practice that essential leadership skill. In a way that other decision-making exercises can’t. To study the scenarios, find the outs, know when you’re better off folding. And doing it with conviction, so that others (your team, your boss) believe in your decision. Even when the odds seem like they’re in your favor but turn against you.
Because poker is as much about persuading people as business is.
Leading With Empathy
EQ is the new IQ. Emotional intelligence is critical to success, especially in leadership positions. Which is why the most famous and highly enrolled course at Stanford Graduate School of Business is “Touchy, Feely,” an elective that many business students say radically changed their perspective.
When you learn poker, you learn about people—how they react under stress, whether they’re antagonistic or closed off. All in a situation where emotional manipulation is part of the game.
And because diverse teams are the highest performing teams, you need to understand what motivates and challenges individuals with vastly different backgrounds. That way, you can adopt the management style that works best for your team and your organization.
Getting Comfortable with Risk
You will fail. We all do. And as a leader, knowing how and when to take risks is a key part of growing a team.
Is this the right project to let that junior associate step out of their comfort zone? Can you afford to delegate the budget and resourcing for this initiative to a direct report? How much time can you dedicate to guiding tactical work compared to high-level strategy?
Poker helps you become a great risk manager, especially when that risk relates to money. In poker, you have to attach a value to a situation (even if that value is in fake chips). That helps you quantify the risk you’re taking. From that practice, it’s much easier to know when it’s time to change your strategy, or how to pivot when your business shifts priorities.
Visionary risk management is a skill that’s allowed firms like Amazon, AirBnB, Paypal and Facebook to pivot and prosper. And it’s a skill that can help you and your teams do the same.
Corporate workshops from Poker Power help businesses of all sizes bring these skills to the table and build stronger teams. Pretty good for a little card game, right?
Written By: Sam Anschell
Poker Power is for educational purposes and does not permit gambling in our clubs. No poker experience is required.