Training board game to enhance correctional leadership skills Silvia Bernardo February 4, 2022

Training board game to enhance correctional leadership skills

A newly developed game teaches technical and soft skills for staff management positions through thematic challenges and player interaction.

Occupational stress is a reality that can be an even greater burden for correctional professionals who face the particular challenges of the sector. Accounting for the proven link between leadership quality and staff psychological health, it is a problem that must be answered top down.

LEADCOR – Leadership Board Game’s main goal is to develop leadership competencies in the correctional sector, namely emotional intelligence, time management, team management, communication, conflict management, motivation, and emotion management. The game challenges the players with hypothetical situations and questions in the prison context while they compete to win.

It takes more than dice rolling

Although the players’ goal is to cross the board by rolling dice, a good grasp of leadership skills will keep them one step ahead. Inspired by the classic “Snakes and Ladders”, climbing ropes on the game board allows the player to move upwards and get ahead faster.

On the other hand, the occasional inmate escaping down the sheets from his window will set the player back. These special board spaces house the core of the training aspect, requiring the player to draw a card and answer satisfactorily to the challenge presented.

LEADCOR Board Game cards

Each of the seven skills the game seeks to strengthen has specific questions and scenarios to make the player reflect and answer promptly, generating debate between the participants.

In the face of these scenarios, players need to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses and present solutions in real-time. The answers tend to generate constructive feedback among players and trainers. Some relevant points are even brought back at the end of the game for detailed analysis from the whole group.

With this individual performance self-reflection and group feedback, players will be able to transport the acquired experience to their own leadership and development of action plans.

LEADCOR Board Game board

“Play the LEADCOR Board Game and prove that you have what it takes to lead your team to the finish line.”

Learning in an engaging environment

Serious games or educational games have a long history as tools for learning, with proven results, including in the segment of adult education. Trainees can simulate the practical use of knowledge in day-to-day challenges and situations while in an environment where it is safe to make mistakes. Furthermore, educators and fellow participants can offer immediate feedback, solidifying the experience as a cornerstone for future real-life situations.

This board game is an innovative tool developed by IPS_Innovative Prison Systems as part of the LEADCOR (Leadership development for occupational stress reduction in correctional settings) project.

Twenty-eight participants played the game at the project’s second Short-Term Staff Training Event. It did not take long to validate its usefulness, as excitement and competition filled the room after a few minutes. The enthusiasm fueled the experience to the end when the first winner was heard at one of the tables.

LEADCOR Board Game playing

This staff training meeting organised at IPS’ offices gathered trainees from Portugal, Belgium, Germany, and Romania for a week-long event from January 31st to February 4th, 2022.

This training event was an opportunity for the participants to learn more about leadership at work, specifically the relationship between leadership and stress. These sessions create valuable insights about stress, the relation between work and stress, burnout, and how leadership quality is linked with the effects of occupational stress on staff’s psychological health.

The project’s next Short-Term Staff Training Event will be organised in Brussels by the Belgian Federal Justice Public Service and is scheduled for May 2nd to May 6th, 2022.

LEADCOR project’s goal is to contribute to mitigating tensions among management and staff, between staff, among staff and their families, and between staff and inmates. This overall stress reduction in the system comes from the preparation of leadership roles to deal with their challenges efficiently and avoid frictions and disorder.

The LEADCOR consortium is led by BSAFE LAB – Law Enforcement, Justice and Public Safety Research and Technology Transfer Lab, Beira Interior University (Portugal), with partners from Portugal (IPS_Innovative Prison Systems, DGRSP – Directorate-General for Reintegration and Prison Services, and the National Prison Guard Corps Union), Germany (Bremen Senate of Justice and Constitution), Romania (Baia Mare Penitentiary and the National Prison Officers Union) and Belgium (Justice Federal Public Service).

For more information on LEADCOR, please visit the project’s website.