A group of MBA students in the Texas A&M Mays Business School got some realistic training in crisis leadership and team-building during a “Leadership Challenge” exercise at Disaster City® on Jan. 22.
“This is useful training,” said Shannon Deer, director of the Full-Time MBA Program at Mays. “It gives the students the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and be challenged outside of an academic setting.”
The exercise is designed to teach leadership and communication skills, crisis management and teamwork.
In the aftermath of a mock tornado, the students must work together in teams to search for and rescue “victims” from a collapsed building, a train derailment and more. They also face other challenges, such as moving a large piece of concrete from a roadway, which can only be accomplished by working as a team.
“Every station has a new team leader, so the students have to learn to follow as well as lead,” said management Associate Professor Michael Wesson. “It’s a great day for them to become more aware of their strengths and areas they need to work on.”
They must also answer questions during a mock press conference about the disaster. This applies to situations where managers must deliver bad news as well as communicate under stress, said Executive Professor John Krajicek.
The simulated disaster exercise is overseen by experienced instructors with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and faculty from Mays Business School.