Updated: December 07, 2022

18 Fun Leadership Games to Build Skills

Here is our list of the best leadership games.

Leadership games are fun challenges and activities designed to help players learn essential skills and become better leaders. Examples include 60 seconds story, guess the drawing, and the blindfold game. These games aim to identify potential leaders in a team or help existing leaders develop essential traits like decision-making, trust, and communication.

These games are similar to leadership activities and can help in professional development. Also, the challenges can help participants learn essential leadership skills and become good leaders.

This list includes:

  • free online leadership games
  • leadership games for adults
  • leadership games for employees
  • workplace leadership games
  • leadership games for kids
  • leadership games for high school students
  • games to build leadership skills

Here we go!

List of leadership games

Games are fun recreational activities but can also be a great tool to train leaders and build necessary leadership skills. From the tallest tower challenge to guess the emotion, here are fun leadership games to help leaders build skills:

1. Survival Island

Survival island is one of the most fun workplace leadership games. Players will try to find ways to escape an island in the game. Participants must imagine that limited survival items, like water, food, guns, torches, and boats, are available.

The team must agree on a strategy to escape the island without leaving any player behind. Players can appoint a captain to lead the team and assign different roles to teammates. Examples include the player in charge of guns to protect the team from wild animals, night guards, and team members in charge of food and water.

While thinking of a plan, participants will most likely have points of conflict. However, this game tests players’ leadership ability to agree on a strategic survival plan. For a more fun experience, let your group play in different teams. Then you can compare all the teams’ strategies at the end and have non-participating team members vote on the best. This game builds leadership qualities like decision-making, management, and strategic thinking skills. Also, participants will be able to assess each other’s weaknesses and strengths, particularly when assigning roles.

2. Tallest Tower Challenge

The tallest tower challenge is among the most fun leadership games to play with employees. This challenge inspires creativity, strategic planning, and teamwork. To play this game, team members have to work together to build a tower out of items like:

  • Uncooked spaghetti
  • Tape
  • String
  • Marshmallows

Before the game starts, ensure that you specify the rules and give the participants the needed materials. After building the tower, the goal is to place a marshmallow on top without destroying the structure. The team that makes the highest-standing structure wins the game.

3. Escape Rooms

Escape rooms are fun games that inspire leaders in a group. Players escaping the room must work together to find clues and solve puzzles. This game is a great way to identify which of your team members have the potential to lead a team. Escape room games also help teammates develop essential leadership skills. While playing, players can exhibit their best management traits, ranging from strong communication to problem-solving skills.

Furthermore, you can use escape rooms to determine the players capable of motivating the entire team while working under pressure.

Here are DIY escape room ideas.

4. Draw Yourself

Draw yourself is one of the most fun leadership games for kids. The idea is for kids to make sketches that best represent their personalities. You can guide the players by asking them to describe themselves in the best way they can. For instance, a kid can say words like “I love dogs” or “I love playing soccer.” Then ask the children to express their likes and dislikes through drawings. Be sure to prepare paper and coloring pencils for the kids.

To further challenge participants, divide the kids into pairs. After, ask pairs to exchange their drawings. The kids will then try to figure out what their partner likes. Based on the sketch, the kids can ask their partners questions like “do you love dogs?” “is that a ball?” and “does that mean you love soccer or own a red ball?”

This game can be a little challenging for younger kids and preschoolers. However, older children will find this game helpful in building their communication and observation skills.

5. Guess the Emotion

If you aim to build empathy in kids, then you can play guess the emotion. You will need printed emotion cards and a band to play this game.

You can follow these steps to play:

  1. Assign numbers to participants in order of how the kids will play
  2. Prepare the emotion cards
  3. Turn the card downs so the kids will not see the emotions on any card
  4. The first player will pick a card without looking at the picture
  5. Assist the player in attaching the card to their forehead with a band
  6. The idea is for other kids, except the player who picked the card, to see the emotion
  7. The player will ask the kids questions that describe the sentiment on the card
  8. After, the player can attempt to guess the emotion

Be sure to instruct the player to refrain from asking questions with specific words like angry, happy, or sad. Instead, the player can ask leading questions like:

  • Will I feel this way if I lose my favorite toy?
  • Will I feel this way if I win a soccer match?
  • Will I feel this way if I get injured?

Then the children will answer “yes” or “no.” The players who guess their emotions correctly in a round win a point. When the game ends, sum up the points and announce the player with the highest score as the winner. As young leaders, this game helps kids understand different situations that can make their friends feel a particular way. In addition, the game helps children communicate their feelings better and build their emotional intelligence.

Here are ways to express empathy at work.

6. 60 Seconds Story

60 seconds story is one of the most exciting free online leadership games. You can play this game on a video conferencing platform or message group with voice note features. First, look for topics your team members can relate to easily. Then let participants take turns recounting a personal experience related to the topic.

Each participant must recount their story or experience within 60 seconds. The story must be clear enough for everyone in the group to understand. You can award points to players who can tell a complete story before time runs out in each round. The player with the most points wins. This game challenges participants to test their communication skills. The game also develops storytelling skills, which is essential for leaders to inspire followers.

7. How Are We Different

How are we different is an exciting game to develop leadership abilities in children. As the name implies, the game requires kids to identify their differences. For instance, the kids can point out differences in hair color, clothing accessories, or height. Being able to recognize individual differences and uniqueness is crucial for leaders.

To play this game, split the kids into teams. Then let the kids communicate and try to figure out simple differences. This exercise is also one of the best free leadership games you can play online. You should send the teams into breakout rooms to enhance their communication. Aside from body features, participants can also figure out differences in work and personal lives. In the end, announce the team that figures out the most differences as the winner.

8. Blindfold Game

The blindfold game is one of the most fun leadership games for adults. The game’s objective is for a blindfolded player to navigate through obstacles in a field successfully.

To play:

  1. Find a free space, whether indoors or outdoors
  2. Place items like sticks, folded paper, and chairs to represent the obstacles
  3. Divide the group into teams
  4. Ask each team to present a volunteer who will wear the blindfold and move through the obstacles
  5. The non-blindfolded teammates will act as the volunteer’s eyes and give instructions on free paths to walk through to avoid obstacles
  6. The goal is for the volunteer to reach the finish line without stepping on any obstacles

Also, note how long the volunteers from each team took to reach the finish line. The team whose volunteer took the least time wins. This challenge improves communication, teamwork, and trust, all essential in leadership.

9. Capture the Flag

Capture the flag is a fun sport where two teams compete against one another for a flag.

To play capture the flag:

  1. Divide players into teams of equal numbers
  2. Find an ample space, preferably or field or arena
  3. Divide the space into two equal sections to mark the territories of each team
  4. Give each team a flag to keep in their respective territories
  5. Then a team will try to take possession of their opponent’s flag
  6. A team that successfully brings the opponent’s flag to their own territory while also protecting their flag wins

You should set the rules of the game before playing. For instance, players can “tag” an opponent who steps on their territory. The tagged player can join the opponent team, freeze, or leave the game depending on your game rules. Capture the flag builds critical thinking skills, which is essential while leading. Players can test their leadership skills by building a defense and attack strategy. The best part is that you can play this game indoors or outdoors. For a more fun experience, you can organize the game in a paintball arena.

10. Cross the Bridge

Cross the bridge is one of the most exciting leadership games for employees. The game requires forming a scenario where players are crossing a bridge filled with crocodiles or even lava. Participants can cross the imaginary bridge by stepping on items placed on the floor. Whether you put pieces of wood or stones on the ground, be sure that participants can conveniently stand on the items.

First, divide the group into teams. Then have players in a team stand in a straight line. The first player on the line will act as the leader whose steps the other teammates will follow. The team will start over if a teammate falls into the river. Furthermore, the first team to cross the bridge without falling wins the game. This game stresses the responsibility of leaders in leading a group and the need to think critically.

11. Tug of War

Tug of war is one of the most fun leadership games for work. The game teaches participants essential leadership skills like coordination, alignment, and endurance.

To play:

  1. Divide the group into two teams with an equal number of players
  2. Each team will stand in a straight line, facing their opponents
  3. Mark a line between the two teams to define their territory
  4. All participants will hold one long rope
  5. Once the game starts, both teams will pull on the rope to their respective territory’s directions
  6. The team who pulls the opponent into the former’s territory wins the game

Tug of war is a fun game that also depicts leadership realities. Leaders engage in tugs of war with competitors and various challenges in their leadership journey. In this game, the team that aligns their effort by pulling at the same time and angle will likely win. Therefore, the game shows that with coordination and alignment from the entire team, a leader can guide the group to success.

12. Balloon Chain

Balloon chain is one of the most exciting leadership games for high school students. In the game, players will form a chain connected by balloons. Then the team must drop all the balloons inside a basket without breaking the chain.

You can follow these steps to play balloon chain:

  1. Split the group into two or more teams
  2. Ask teammates to stand in a straight line, with a little space between each player
  3. Place a balloon between each teammate
  4. A team will have to move around with the balloons firmly placed between teammates’ chests and back
  5. Players cannot touch the balloons with their until the team is ready to place balloons inside a basket
  6. The first player on the line with hold the basket
  7. Then the teams must walk to the finish line without breaking the chain and having the balloon fall out of place
  8. If the balloon falls, then the team must return to the starting line to begin all over again
  9. Once the team reaches the finish line, the leader must figure out how to drop the basket without breaking the form
  10. Starting from the last teammate on the line, players will take turns passing their balloons to the leader without disrupting the chain
  11. The leader will then throw the balloons inside the basket

The first team to drop all the balloons inside the basket wins. This game stresses how teamwork, communication, and strategic thinking are vital to lead a group. Balloon chain works best for large groups with around five or more players in each team.

13. Guess the Drawing

Guess the drawing is a game that can inspire leaders to build their observation skills. To play this game, divide the group into teams of two players. Also, prepare words or samples of sketches. The two players on a team should stand in a line while facing the same direction.

Next, the last player on the line will use their finger to write a word or draw invisible sketches on the back of the second teammate. On the other hand, the second teammate will try to replicate the invisible sketch on a piece of paper. The teammate who writes out a word or sketch wins a point for the team.

14. Charades

Charades is a popular game to play during an informal gathering with colleagues. While many folks play charades for fun, you can use this game to build your group leadership skills. Rather than having players gesture prompts from popular ideas like movies, songs, or celebrities, give participants scenarios of different situations and challenges in your office. Then each group will take turns acting out and guessing the situations. This game teaches your team how to recognize and handle difficult situations as leaders quickly.

To play this game:

  1. Divide the group into teams
  2. Ask each team to present a volunteer who will act as the actor
  3. Before the game starts, come up with a list of challenges often experienced at work, such as employee burnout, low engagement, and difficult clients
  4. The host should privately assign a challenge or situation to the actor
  5. Then, the actor tries to gesture the situation
  6. To win a point, the actor’s team must guess the situation correctly before the set time runs out
  7. The team can further provide solutions on how to manage the situation
  8. The other teams will also take turns gesturing and guessing assigned situations
  9. In the end, the team with the most points wins

Charades is among the best workplace leadership games. The best part is that you can play charades in person and online. Also, the game can improve employees’ communication and observation skills.

15. Leadership Race

A leadership race is among the best games to play with leaders in an organization. This game lets leaders reflect on their leadership abilities and become aware of weak points to address.

To do a leadership race, first, compile a list of leadership-related prompts, such as

  • I can motivate my team while working under pressure
  • I am a good storyteller
  • I know how to persuade my group to make a critical decision
  • I get compliments regularly about my communication skills

After, assign a designated caller to read out each prompt. Participants will take a step forward for every relatable prompt. The first player to reach the finish line wins the game.

16. Blindfold Animal Game

Blindfold animal game is one of the best leadership games for kids. The host will assign an animal type to each participant. Once the exercise starts, participants will make sounds imitating their assigned animals. The goal is for participants to find other kids with similar animal types.

You can cover each participant’s eyes with a blindfold to make the game challenging for older kids. Also, set a time limit for participants to find kids with the same animal type. This game helps kids develop active listening skills, which are essential for becoming a good leader. In addition, the game works best for medium to large-sized groups.

17. Water in the Bucket

Water in the bucket is a fun leadership game you and your team will enjoy playing. To play this activity, divide participants into teams. Then set up chairs in straight lines, depending on the number of players on each team. Also, prepare empty buckets for participants. Each team gets to decide on the first teammate to start the game.

Next, let participants sit down on the chairs and hand over a bucket to each player. Then blindfold all participants and fill the bucket of the first players on each team with water. The game’s objective is for the first player to pour the water inside the second player’s bucket without standing up. Next, the second player will repeat the same step to the third player. The water pouring continues until the last player’s bucket becomes filled with water. Chances are that players will spill all the water even before reaching the last player.

In the end, compare the quantity of water each team’s last player has in their buckets. This game reveals a leader’s responsibility to lead a team and must therefore be critical in any decision-making. In the game, the amount of water each player carefully and successfully pours into their teammates’ buckets determines whether or not the team will win.

18. Spot The Difference

Spot the difference is one of the best games to build leadership skills, particularly observation traits, in kids. To play the activity, show participants two versions of the same pictures. The pictures can be of different ideas, ranging from a living room to a busy road.

However, one version of these pictures should have subtle differences. For instance, printed words on both pictures can be different. Also, the pictures may have a similar object with different colors in both versions. The participants have to spot these subtle differences in the pictures. You can let participants know the number of differences to find. The first player who finds all differences wins the game. This leadership game helps kids concentrate better and develop their observation skills.


Playing leadership games is a great way to identify participants capable of leading a team. The games let players channel their unique leadership abilities, such as effective communication, strategic planning, and good observation. Also, you can use these games to train team members or leaders to become better in the leadership field. There are many leadership games to play, with each exercise focusing on different skills. Therefore, if you want to pick a leadership game, then consider the leadership qualities you would love to build. The best part of playing these games is building your team while developing leadership skills.

Next, check out the roles of team building leaders and valuable signs of leadership. You can also check these signs of bad leaders.

FAQ: Leadership games

Here are answers to questions about leadership games.

What are leadership games?

Leadership games are exercises and challenges that can help leaders develop essential skills like good communication, motivation, and time management. These games are fun to play and help leaders become more effective while carrying out their responsibilities.

What are good games to play with groups of leaders?

Good games to play with a group of leaders include escape rooms, leadership race, capture the flag, charades, tug of war, balloon chain, and tallest tower challenge.

How can games help leaders build skills?

Games help leaders build skills by identifying the areas that the leader needs to improve. A leader will most likely not have every single leadership trait. But by playing games, leaders can identify and improve their weak traits. Also, the games let leaders practice their best skills and perform more effectively in real-life situations.

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People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

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