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5 Ways Playing Chess Makes Better Leaders

It was during a Thanksgiving family reunion that my extremely smart cousin decided to teach me how to play the great game of chess.
As a 12 year old who just wanted to make it through school, chess was the game for the “smart people”. This would lead my young little brain to the conclusion that if I was playing chess, I was smart. It wasn’t till about a month ago, while getting a cup of coffee with my dad at Starbucks, that I saw two men enjoying a game of chess and saw it as the perfect game for leaders. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the take aways from this great game.


1 Leadership Takes Time

– If you’ve ever been in a real chess game you know it takes time to finish the game. The longest chess game recorded took place in 1989. It was 269 moves and took over 20 hours and 15 mins! Leadership takes time to develop. Those who are really excited about a good game of chess aren’t afraid to commit their time because they realize it’s not time spent, it’s time invested.


2 Make Moves That Matter

– The most frustrating, or rewarding, part of chess is when you take 5-10 moves to set yourself up for that one “big move”. Taking the time to get everything in place before making the move that has the most impact. As leaders we need to be making moves that matter. Don’t think about doing things that will make you busier, think about what makes you last longer. By giving a little responsibility to someone now you are building the experience they need for more responsibility 2 years from now.


3 Know Your Team Mates

Unlike football or basketball when you play the game of chess you’re all on your own! Most people treat chess just like the game of checkers. Every piece does the same thing, right? Wrong! If you want to be good at chess, know what the pieces on the board do! The rook moves from side to side as where the knight (the horse) only moves in and L shape. Leaders are surrounded by one thing all the time, people. Take the time to know about the gifts and talents that the people around you have. 


4 Utilize Every Piece

– I’ve been in chess games where pieces like the rook, bishop, or knight aren’t an option to aide in the game. If used correctly, even the pawns on the board can provide an assistance in times of needs. Leaders need to use everything at their disposal to make the moves that matter. I know that individual might not have experience or the qualifications, but if your’re a good leader, you’ll take the time to invest, watch, and train them to become the best.


5 Recap The Game

Games over, now what? Chess players constantly re-live and recap the game. What went great? What could be better? Don’t be afraid to ask the questions that bring the answers of “better.”


Chess requires you to slow down, focus on what’s important, and make the moves that really matter. A great recipe for solid leadership.