What the Squid Game Teaches Us About Teamwork and Leading.
This past few weeks, individually in our RNR team have watched all nine episodes of the “Squid Game.” The current No. 1 show worldwide on Netflix and the platform’s most-watched series ever.
It’s a disturbing, yet intriguing dystopian Korean series about a murderous tournament of children’s games, where contestants dealing with insurmountable debts play for the chance to win $38 million.
However, the power of this film is in the story of the characters, how they navigate through each challenge and the relationships they forge throughout the games, and with that, this Series feels eerily familiar, as we live through what sometimes feels like it could be a dystopian universe, pushing us to find new ways to manage amid evolving chaos.
As we assume even you reading this have at least watched a few episodes, let’s jump into how each game played teaches us important lessons about teamwork and leading through challenging times.
RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT – where a giant schoolgirl robot doll tries to catch players moving during the game. If you get caught moving on the red light, you’re eliminated (i.e., killed).
SOLUTION: Player #218 learns quickly the key to winning the game is to move stealthy behind the person in front of you and to keep moving (the game is on a timer). He passes this knowledge on to player #456, who frozen in fear, finally gets motivated to get up and move. During a crisis, a leader offers solutions and a path forward.
LESSON: Crisis calls on you to quickly assess the situation and make decisions that will guide your team, even when in chaotic environments. This is because chaos offers opportunities to those who are prepared and forces the unprepared to crumble.
HONEYCOMB GAME – players are armed with only a sewing needle to carve out a candy shape without breaking it.
SOLUTION: Player #456 eventually figures out that licking the back of the candy helps release the shape. Seeing this, the contestants around him follow suit.
LESSON: Learn to exercise patience, but also think quickly on your feet. Show leadership, and others will follow.
TUG OF WAR GAME – Here, our favorite characters face defeat after acknowledging they might be the weaker team.
SOLUTION: Player #001 coaches the team on how to win. He says to them, “All you need is a good strategy, combined with good teamwork.”
LESSON: When building teams, having a good leader is vital. You also need to have someone strong and dependable to serve as the anchor of a ship. Then, it’s all about how you arrange your team, with each member playing an important role in helping to secure a win. Having this strategy in place was critical to their success and is an important lesson to absorb for all of us especially now that 2022 is around the corner and we are planning for a new financial year.
GAME OF MARBLES – where players negotiate which games they play, throwing skill or strength out the window and replacing them with nasty displays of manipulation and peer pressure. This is a mental battle of self-preservation that brings out the best or the worst versions of the players.
SOLUTION: While this episode has many teachable moments, the one that stands out to me is the connection between players #067 and #240. As Sae-byeok opens up about her experiences escaping from North Korea with her family, her story moves Ji-yeong, who makes the ultimate sacrifice in the games to give Sae-byeok a chance to one day reunite with her family.
LESSON: As humans, we are conditioned to connect, and that means sharing the good with the bad. It’s OK to share your challenges with your team. It makes you human, and people can relate to that. Being real with your team in the face of uncertainty makes you more trustworthy. And being as open as possible with your team will foster greater connection.
THE GLASS STEPPINGSTONE GAME – where players must cross a bridge of glass panels, not knowing which one will support their weight or which ones will shatter.
SOLUTION: When faced with danger, the players depend on the mistakes of others to help guide their next step.
LESSON: The lesson here is to observe, learn from mistakes and apply those learnings to adapt, evolve and chart a clear path forward.
FIGHT TO THE DEATH – where the remaining two players have one last opportunity to forfeit the game and walk away from the prize fund.
SOLUTION: However, player #218 sacrifices himself to allow Seong Gi-Hun (#456) to walk away as the winner of the games. Sang-Woo’s realization at the end shows us that self-awareness is critical for leadership.
LESSON: The better you understand yourself and recognize your own strengths, and most importantly weaknesses, the more effective you can be as a leader.
In summary; In life, you’ll come across different people and situations that will help you develop and grow as a person, shaping the way you see the world around you and determining the type of leader you’ll become. That leadership is tested when facing challenges. In stressful circumstances like in Squid Game, it’s completely understandable for your team members to become disorganized, lose focus, and lack motivation. It makes sense, especially if the crisis causes them to worry about their health, the well-being of their families, and their job security. Your job as an effective leader is to use empathy to create direct, transparent communication with your teams and establish clear norms and values that dictate how they spend their time. So, we hope each game taught you something about teamwork and leadership.
Origianal Articlet by Mr. Demar Anderson
Summarised by: Mrs. Nahuja Nuhu