Here is our list of the best leadership activities for workplaces.
Leadership activities are training, challenges, and games great for employee development and building team spirit. Examples include leadership races, marshmallow challenges, and drawing communication. These activities aim to develop participants’ leadership skills like communication skills, creativity, and critical thinking.
These exercises are in-person versions of virtual leadership activities and examples of professional development ideas. The goal of these games is to help employees become good leaders, do leadership training, and hone leadership skills.
This list includes:
- situational leadership activities and scenarios
- leadership team building activities
- leadership training activities
- leadership development activities
Let’s get to it!
List of leadership activities
Leadership skills are excellent for increasing productivity both at work and in participants’ personal lives. From minefield to leadership pizza, below are challenges and training ideas great for teams and leaders.
1. Leadership Race
A leadership race is one of the best leadership activities to reveal group members that can lead effectively. The game involves a designated caller shouting out certain leadership traits. To play a leadership race, list out the qualities to call beforehand.
- Great communicator
- Emotionally intelligent
Next, line the players up shoulder-to-shoulder. A designated caller can shout out the qualities. If a player believes the trait relates to him, then he will take a step forward. In addition to stepping forward, the player must explain why he thinks this trait best describes him. You can appoint a panel of judges to vote on whether or not the reason is acceptable.
The player who takes the most steps forward wins the race.
2. Leadership Book Club
For an idea of effective leadership development activities, you can organize a leadership-themed book club for your team.
To plan a meeting, determine how long the activity will last. The book club can be a one-time event or an ongoing happening.
Next, you should decide the books to read and ensure all members have a copy. Some of the fun books on leadership include:
- The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
- Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
- Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden
- First, Break All The Rules by Jim Harter
- How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
In addition, make sure you give the readers enough time to study the books. Then pick a convenient time, date, and venue to have the activity. What the attendees will do revolves around asking questions and sharing their critical opinions on the author’s approach to leadership.
You can also check out this list of the best leadership books.
3. Leadership Pizza
Leadership Pizza is a popular activity where participants represent their perspectives on leadership qualities on a pictorial pizza representation. To engage in this activity:
- Ask the participants to individually make a list of what they believe to be the essential traits of leadership.
- Then have the partakers draw a pizza and visualize the leadership qualities based on the perceived importance of each trait. The representation can take the form of a 360 degrees pie chart or a percentage measurement basis.
- Once the charts are ready, call out each participant to assess their representations to the group.
- Let the group member presenting identify the leadership traits they perceive as their weak traits.
- Then challenge that group member to work on the traits within a given time.
You can reorganize the leadership pizza session after some time. The later session offers an excellent opportunity to check if group members significantly improved their weak leadership areas.
4. Magic Carpet
A magic carpet is a challenge involving teams flipping a rug over without leaving the rug’s boundaries.
To perform the task:
- Divide your group into smaller groups depending on how large the team is.
- Prepare a sheet, mat, or rug that would be enough for the number of participants in a team to stand on.
- After the teams stand on their mats, ask the groups to flip over the rug to the opposite side.
- While flipping, none of the participants must step out of the rug’s boundaries. Otherwise, the participant’s team will have to start over.
- The first team to successfully flip the carpet over wins
This challenge aims to teach teamwork, patience, and problem-solving skills essential for leadership.
5. Marshmallow Challenge
The marshmallow challenge is a game where teams compete to construct the tallest standing structure. After the construction, the teams will place a marshmallow on their designs. You will need simple materials like:
- Wooden blocks
To do this challenge, divide your team into smaller groups. Then decide the structure that the teams will construct. The design can range from skyscrapers to tall bridges or towers. To make the game more challenging, you can set a time limit for the construction.
Also, you should set the rules for the challenge and ensure that all the participants understand the rules. The team that successfully builds the tallest structure with the marshmallow sitting on top wins.
Building challenges like this marshmallow challenge are fun leadership activities that improve collaboration and creative thinking skills.
Minefield is one of the leadership team building activities that promotes trust and collaboration. The game’s goal is for a player to help a blindfolded partner reach the end of the minefield while escaping obstacles. All you need to play is a free space and items you can find around like paper, bottles, and sticks.
To play minefield:
- Divide your team into a pair of two players.
- Have just one of the players in each pair blindfolded. The player not blindfolded will act as the guide of the blindfolded player. The latter will move through obstacles based on the instruction of their partner.
- Specify the communication technique players will use to control their blindfolded partner’s movement. For instance, players may only use commands like ‘forward,’ ‘backward,’ ‘left,’ ‘right,’ and ‘stop.’
- Set up your minefield by marking a start and finish line.
- Scatter a variety of items on the floor. Make sure that the materials are safe for the players.
- Once a player breaks the rule, then the pair will start over. Players can break the rules by touching their blindfolded partner or when the blindfolded player steps over an object.
The game emphasizes the relevance of dependence and trust given to leaders when dealing with complex issues.
7. Leadership Coat of Arms
One of the ways to show and recognize different leadership values is to ask participants in leadership training to draw their coat of arms. These coats of arms will include symbols, designs, and mottos that best represent the artist’s concept of leadership.
You will need a space to work on, a pen, sheets of paper, and maybe some colors for this activity. You can set a time limit to challenge participants to work in time and think fast.
Once the time is up, ask the artists to take turns presenting their leadership coat of arms and breaking down the design’s representations. The participants do not need to have any prior drawing skills to participate. All you need include a sketch representing unique ideas rather than a visually appealing image.
8. Crossing the Crocodile River Challenge
This game is an entertaining challenge that requires a high level of balance, focus, strategic planning, and teamwork. These requirements make the game one of the best operational leadership activities.
To play this game,
- Find an open space and objects that can imitate a stepping stone like discs, paper, or small pieces of plywood.
- The number of stepping stones you will need depends on the number of players. You can provide an amount equivalent to the players’ number.
- After, mark out two lines to indicate the start and end of the river.
- The game’s goal is for players to use the stepping stones to cross the river to the end without leaving any player behind. Once a player goes out of the boundaries of a stepping stone and touches the river, the game will start over.
If you have a large group, then you can divide the group into teams. Each team competes for the first to reach the end of the river without breaking the rules.
9. Leadership Role-Model
In this activity, team members will name leaders and outstanding leadership traits they admire. It is essential to give your team enough time to research their best leaders. It should not matter whether the figure is dead or alive.
The leader’s achievement can be any positive accomplishment from leading an entire nation to freedom or saving a cat. After researching, ask the team members to take turns telling the stories of their admired heroes. The participant should also point out the traits they admire about these iconic persons.
You can have this activity during your free time at work. Alternatively, you can go to a non-office environment like the park.
10. Icebreaker Trivia
Icebreakers are famous for almost any event and make a great idea for fun leadership team building activities. First, ask your team to pile up a bunch of icebreaker questions like:
- What is your favorite color?
- Which leader is your role model and why?
- What is your favorite food?
- What do you think is the most important quality of a leader?
- What would be your superpower and why?
The team members will take turns to answer the questions and talk about their answers briefly. You can let some time pass by starting a meeting or engaging the team in other ways. After, quiz the participants on the answers to the icebreaker questions.
The first participant to answer correctly wins a point, and the participant with the most points emerges as the winner. This activity is excellent for breaking the ice, building a team, and a great way to teach leadership skills. The task stresses essential leadership skills like active listening, observation, and effective communication.
11. 30-Seconds Experience
The 30-second experience is ideal as a short activity to start your meetings or events.
The team members can figure out what story or achievements they can comfortably share with the team. Then the participants will have to share the most significant part of the experience in just 30 seconds. Other team members must be able to comprehend the main idea of the experience, including why the experience meant a lot to the narrator.
The 30-seconds experience teaches the importance of time management and being productive within a limited time. Also, this exercise teaches participants how to communicate the crucial aspects of issues.
12. One Member Three Leaders
One Member Three Leaders is one of the fun situational leadership activities and scenarios. The activity teaches leaders how best to address negative situations.
You can follow these steps to perform this fun activity:
- Call out four participants.
- Have one participant act as a team member while the other three act as leaders with different traits.
- Give a hypothetical scenario of an adverse event by the team member. For instance, where an employee loses a client, exceeds a deadline, or has a history of being rude.
- Then the three leaders will address the situation in different ways. You can give the participants a scripted way to address the problem or ask them to improvise.
- The observers will discuss each leader’s approach and identify the one that works best for the situation.
This engaging task is an excellent method to train leaders to develop strategic and critical thinking for solving problems.
13. Lost at Sea
This fun task requires team members to act as if they got trapped on an abandoned island and find ways to survive.
To play lost at sea, split your team into smaller groups. You can briefly describe how the groups experienced a shipwreck leading them to a deserted island. Then proceed to the fun part of the activity, where you ask each group to come up with six survival items. The group members must agree on the necessity of the items.
Also, for a more challenging task, include dangerous scenarios such as an attack from a wild animal, running low on food supply, or an unexpected attack by pirates inhabiting the island. After agreeing on solutions to the scenarios, the group will come together to discuss the survival items and how these items will help the group survive. Other groups can ask questions or point out loopholes when a group makes their presentation.
This activity teaches leaders to approach challenges in non-traditional ways.
Here are more problem-solving games.
Debate is one of the leadership training activities that help employees develop impressive communication skills. To have a debate, divide your team into two or more groups depending on the size of the team.
Once you pair two groups to compete against each other, assign topics to the pairs. You can select simple issues you know the groups can easily improvise an answer. Also, the problems may or may not be work-related.
Furthermore, you should give the groups several minutes to have a private discussion with their group members on possible arguments. For better communication during the debate, you may set a time limit, like two or three minutes, for each group to present and defend their argument. After the time runs out, the other group will have their moment to speak within the same time limit. The debaters will keep rotating the turns to speak until the final time runs out.
After a round, you can ask the same groups to switch sides in the second round. The switch allows leaders to learn to see things from different points of view and appreciate other people’s ideas.
Check out more communication activities.
15. Drawing Communication
Drawing communication involves a team member communicating an object only with gestures. Then another team member attempts to draw the item. This activity identifies the effective communicators in a team and tests how well team members can communicate with each other to solve a problem.
The materials you need include a pen, paper, and a space to draw. You should divide the team into groups of two members sitting opposite each other. You can assign a described object to one member of each group or have them randomly pick an object. Then set the rules for the activity, including the time limit. Also, the participant describing an item cannot mention or say words that describe it.
After the description session, the gesturing player will reveal the object. If the other team member draws the item correctly, then that team wins. On the other hand, if the team member did not sketch the object accurately, they will explain why they could not comprehend the gestures. That way, you can figure out where the communication went wrong.
16. Best Leadership Scenario
This activity is one of the best situational leadership activities and scenarios that involve examining the different leadership styles. For example:
- Authoritative leadership
- Autocratic leadership
- Democratic leadership
- Participative leadership
- Laissez-faire leadership
After clarifying ambiguities as to the nature of each leadership style, you can proceed to give hypothetical scenarios in the workplace. Then ask the participants to identify the leadership style that will work best in a scenario and the reason for their choices.
Best leadership scenarios equip leaders with decision-making and problem-solving skills essential to solve daily work issues.
17. Leadership Retreat
A leadership retreat is an opportunity for leaders to rest from leadership pressures and boost their morale.
When planning a leadership retreat, first clarify the retreat’s objectives. These objectives will affect the theme of the activity. Therefore, it is essential to pick activities to help you realize your retreat’s ultimate goal.
Also, you would want to make the time spent at the retreat valuable by creating a full schedule. Furthermore, a leadership retreat presents the perfect opportunity to redress challenges faced by leaders.
Here are more ideas for leader retreats.
18. Human Knot Game
The human knot game is a great problem-solving activity that enhances team cooperation and communication. First, ask the team members to stand and form a circle. The participants should hold one hand of another participant standing opposite them. After, instruct the players to lock their other hands with any other player. Then you have a human tangle.
The game’s goal is for participants to untangle the knot while still holding hands. If any participants stop holding hands, then the game will start over again.
Here is how to do the human knot.
19. Silver Lining
Silver lining is an activity that promotes the vital leadership skills of positivity and motivation. Team members will have to work in a group of two. It is best to put two team members who have worked on similar projects together.
Once the activity starts, a team member in a group will talk about a negative experience they had when working on a particular project. Then the other team member in the same pair will point out the positive aspects of the same project.
The activity also works well in building a team and even motivating employees.
20. Ducks in a Row
This activity allows team members to assess decision-making processes that will be useful for real-life challenges. First of all, you need to divide the team into smaller groups and hand each team a large piece of paper.
The goal is for each group to think of five techniques leaders can use to overcome challenges. The group then proceeds to write down the five agreed techniques. After, gather all the groups to review all the groups’ strategies. Then entire teams will decide which methods are the most effective.
When a real-life challenge arises, the team can use these problem-solving techniques.
21. Observation Challenge
The observation challenge is one of the best leadership development activities. The challenge trains teams and leaders to observe changes, regardless of how small. Team members will observe each other to point out the changes they notice.
To do this challenge:
- Divide the team into a pair of two.
- Then have each participant in a pair observe each other. Introducing icebreakers is a great idea to make the activity less awkward.
- After the time is up, give the participants a break to change certain things about them, like changing a piece of clothing, wearing an ornament, or using a different cologne.
- For a more precise challenge, give the participants several things to change about themselves. You can write numbers on small pieces of rolled paper and ask participants to pick a piece. The number on the paper selected is the number of things the team member will change.
- After the break, each player will point out the changes they observed in the other player.
- The player who can observe all their partner’s changes wins the challenge.
The observation challenge helps leaders improve their abilities to observe things going on around them.
Leadership activities are a great way to quip teams with essential skills to help them become better leaders. Some of the benefits of these activities include building teams, ensuring effective communication, and improving problem-solving skills. Besides, leadership activities not only help participants be productive at work. The activities also improve certain aspects of the participant’s personal life, like decision-making in challenging situations.
We also have a guide to conferences on leadership.