Tetris Leadership

Leadership Lessons from the Best-Selling Game of All Time

With more than 495 million games sold, Tetris is the most sold video game of all time. It makes sense that a highly skilled Tetris player can organize a moving truck better than the average Joe, but what can we learn about leadership from Tetris?


I’ll never forget my first Gameboy® that came with Tetris. I could (and did) spend hours putting Tetriminos snugly into place to create a multi-level deletion of rows and score more points. Truth be told, I keep a copy of Tetris on my phone and play it with some regularity still. I’m convinced that my Tetris skills are what earned me the opportunity to control the supply closet in boot camp, maximize storage space in every aspect of life, and made moving a lot easier when it came time to pack the truck.

I’ve also realized that Tetris has some valuable lessons we should consider in our leadership behavior:

1. Pieces that don’t fit right leave a gap. When you’re appointing staff positions, you may want to put someone in a particular place because of an adept skill, but you need to consider the holistic consequences of that decision.

In Tetris, for instance, you can put a piece in place out of necessity or because you’re rushed, and it might even help you knock down a row. The problem is that if it doesn’t fit properly, it creates a hole – one for which you have to work harder now to accommodate and overcome lest it causes your stack of blocks to render for you a Game Over.

Putting the right people in the right place requires you to consider their strengths and weaknesses to determine if they are the right fit for the hole you need to fill.

2. Life doesn’t slow down just because you’re behind. As you progress in a game of Tetris, you find that the pieces begin falling faster and you have less time to move them into the right place. As a result, your stack continues to grow, and you still have to juggle anticipating the next piece and putting the piece you have in the right place.

If only you could slow it down and catch up. . . Right?!

Like Tetris, the demand on you continues despite the situations you are facing. Sometimes we have to make decisions on the fly and accept the consequences. Many times, it will work in your favor, and other times it will serve as a learning opportunity to help you make better decisions later.

On the other hand, it also teaches you the importance of teamwork. Tetris is a one-player game. Leadership, on the other hand, is a team activity. Don’t take it all on yourself. Use your team to help you get caught up, stay on track, and clear down the ever-rising stack of blocks that are setting you back.

3. Leadership doesn’t stop just because you got a win. Many gameplay options exist now for Tetris, but in its original form, the game continued on without a final level. You might score a tetris, but the game keeps going.

You will have many wins as a leader. Your resilience to keep going is what will separate you from the others. Celebrate your wins, congratulate those who win with you, and move forward because the need for effective leadership never stops.

Question: What else can we learn from Tetris to improve our leadership? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


I am an author, speaker, and leader with a passion for developing people into practical leaders who put their principles into practice. I am the co-author of the acclaimed book Faith Acts with best-selling author Dillon Burroughs, the Chief Operations Officer at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, and an independent leadership consultant to up and coming leaders and start up nonprofit organizations. My greatest joy, however, is serving Christ and his Church. I am the proud husband of Shay and father of two great boys. We live in Chattanooga, TN. #NoogaStrong

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic, or downright annoying.

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