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Training tomorrow's leaders

Although the annual Hong Kong Management Game is well known as a simulation exercise and an exciting competition, it is also a training ground for managers and leaders of the future, the judges of the game said.

There are many qualities that make for a successful leader and one of the advantages of the game is that it allows participants to find out what these qualities are.

Game designer Russell Morris said people with long-term outlooks tend to do well. "There are a lot of things that people don't think through - they only see the here and now and don't think beyond there. So you might make a huge salary now, but be out of a job in two years."

An important quality, he added, is common sense. "We have seen that, especially with students, everyone tries their theories out, but I would ask them to think about what they would do in a situation and not what a business would do," he said. "The most important thing is plain common sense - thinking about what you are doing and not just relying on some theory."

Malina Ngai, chief operating officer of game sponsor AS Watson, points out that the real challenge for executives nowadays is neither technology nor skill, but effective people and productivity management. To a certain extent, she says, staff engagement and trust in the leadership team are determining factors in an enterprise's success.

She adds that when it comes to decision making, people need to make quick decisions and create simple, smart and pragmatic solutions that can turn strategy into action. "Scientific data and proven facts are the keys to supporting plans that help [AS Watson] to be game-changers in the retail sector," she says.

Teamwork is another important element for success - winning team KTMC said this was their biggest lesson from the game.

"An outstanding leader should possess excellent communication skills, especially in the retail sector where competition is intense," Ngai says. "Effective leadership is about taking value from alternative viewpoints to achieve more through synergy and collaboration."