Here is our list of the best leadership icebreakers.
Leadership icebreakers are games and activities to help employees build their leadership skills and get to know their teams better. Examples include two peas in a pod, Jenga questions, and ABC intros. The purpose of these activities is to promote communication and collaboration among leaders and their teams.
These ideas are similar to examples of icebreaker games for small groups, large group icebreakers, and five minute team building activities. These games help to reveal and build key leadership skills.
This list includes:
- leadership icebreakers for small groups
- leadership icebreakers for large groups
- virtual leadership icebreakers
- leadership icebreakers for high school students
- leadership icebreaker questions
Let’s get started!
List of leadership icebreakers
Leadership icebreakers are a great tool to get your teams to know each other better in a fun way. Here are our favorite leadership icebreakers to help leaders create strong team bonds.
1. Two peas in a pod
Two peas in a pod is among the best icebreakers to help teammates get to know each other. This game allows employees to find similarities with other team members.
You can begin the game by asking your team to chat with each other and search for five similarities between all members. Then, give a timeframe of 20 to 30 minutes for employees to walk around the room in search of similarities. The similarities should not be physical traits. Instead, players should search for deeper insights, like a shared experience of traveling to the same country or growing up in the same town.
Two peas in a pod is an ideal icebreaker to help leaders learn how to relate better to their team members.
2. One-word leadership
If you are looking for icebreakers that allow your team to get creative, then we recommend one-word leadership. To begin the activity, ask players to choose the first word that comes to mind when they hear the word “leadership.” For example, you may hear responses like passionate, authoritative, driven, or trustworthy. The objective of this game is to get more insight into how your team values leadership.
If your team has fun playing one-word leadership, you can play different game variations. For example, you can ask your team to answer other prompts, such as:
- How would you describe your leadership style?
- What is the most negative trait that a leader can have?
- What is the most positive trait that a leader can have?
- What is most important to you as a leader?
- What is the best leadership style?
While playing the game, remind team members to answer these questions using only one word. The one-word leadership icebreaker helps leaders condense their thoughts into short and quick pieces of information.
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3. Jenga questions
Jenga questions is a fun game of leadership icebreaker questions. You can begin with a standard set of Jenga. Then, take a Sharpie and write questions and prompts on each block. Each prompt should encourage players to share a story from a specific time of their life, such as a time when they:
- Had to make a difficult decision
- Felt most proud of themselves at work
- Overcame adversity
- Had to adapt to change quickly
- Faced a challenge at work
After each player pulls their block from the Jenga tower, they should read the prompt out loud and begin sharing their story. The player who knocks the tower down must grab two more blocks from the tower and share those extra stories with the group. Jenga questions is an innovative version of the popular game, motivating teams to share their best leadership stories.
4. Circle of achievements
Circle of achievements is an icebreaker focused on recognizing employees for their hard work. To play the game, open a blank document on Google Slides or Microsoft Powerpoint. Be sure to create a template in the style of an info web, with one circle in the middle, with smaller circles branching out. First, write your team’s name in the largest circle in the middle. Then, ask each member to write their most significant accomplishment of the week in the smaller circles. For example, one employee may share their win of making five sales in one week.
By the end of the game, you will have a diagram that shows your leadership team’s most impressive recent accomplishments. Circle of achievements is a great icebreaker that allows your team to share in each other’s success.
Check out more employee recognition ideas.
5. I am
If you are hosting an in-person leadership conference, then we recommend playing an icebreaker called I am. To begin this icebreaker, hand markers to all attendees. Then, ask players to use their markers to write an “I am” statement on their arms. For example, statements beginning with “I am” can include:
- I am resilient and strong
- I am talented and unique
- I am up for any challenge
- I am a confident and empowered leader
- I am able to stand back up after any challenge
It would be best to encourage participants to make their statements short and vague. Once each team member has written their declaration, invite each player to share their story. Employees should explain the significance behind why they chose their statement. This game is a great way to get to know teammates on a personal level.
Pro tip: If participants do not want to write directly on their arms, then use duct tape.
6. Networking roulette
If you are running an in-person leadership event, then we recommend networking roulette. To successfully execute this icebreaker, encourage your leadership team to bring business cards to the meeting. Then, once your guests arrive, ask each attendee to drop their business card into a jar.
Next, follow these steps:
- Have each attendee choose a card from the jar randomly
- Set a timer for 30 minutes
- Tell attendees to walk around the room
- Instruct participants to find their business card match
- Encourage networking throughout the exercise
As participants look for their business card partners, we recommend asking them to network with more team members. Networking is an essential part of leadership. This icebreaker helps leaders meet their peers while building their professional networks.
Check out more networking activities.
7. ABC intros
ABC intros is one of the best leadership icebreakers for large groups. This activity allows teammates to get to know each other better. As you begin the game, ask each team member to choose one letter of the alphabet. It would be best if you reminded players to choose their letter wisely, as they will need to stick with it for the entire game.
After each player chooses their letter, ask them to choose different words describing themselves. Participants can pick as many words as possible, but the catch is that each word has to begin with their previously chosen letter. For example, if one player chooses the letter E, their words may include exciting, energetic, and extraordinary.
This icebreaker is a fantastic way for leaders to express their innovation and creativity while getting to know their teammates’ traits and characteristics.
8. Act it out
Act it out is a leadership icebreaker in which players act out different workplace scenarios. For example, one player act as the boss, while the other player can act as an employee.
Here are a few example scenarios:
- Arrives late to work
- Misses a crucial meeting
- Messes up an important project
- Asks for a raise
- Misses a day of work
The act it out icebreaker allows players to determine how employees would react to certain scenarios as a leader. You can conclude each skit by asking the larger group how they would approach the scenario.
For more ideas, check out improv games.
9. Paper planes
One of the most fun leadership icebreakers for small groups is paper planes. To play this game, participants should write an interesting fact about themselves on a piece of paper. Then, players should fold their paper into the shape of an airplane. Once each team member creates their paper plane, they should throw the planes across the room. Attendees then meet and mingle with the person who caught their plane. This icebreaker can help leaders network with each other while learning new facts about their teammates.
10. Vision board
If you are looking for leadership icebreakers for high school students, then we recommend vision boarding. A vision board is a collage of images and words representing its creator’s wishes and goals. Vision boards often serve as inspiration and motivation.
To create a vision board, you should first gather supplies, including:
- Colored paper
Then, have all participants cut out their favorite images and quotes. Students should choose images representing their uniqueness, such as favorite foods, movies, and colors. Participants then glue the images and quotes on a large poster board. The end product is a decorative vision board that provides inspiration and positivity.
Here are more goal-setting activities.
11. That’s fantastic
That’s fantastic is one of the most popular leadership icebreakers for large groups.
Here are the rules for this game:
- Split up into groups of three or four
- Give one chair to each team
- Assign one member as the team’s CEO for each group
- Have remaining teammates bring different challenges or issues to their CEO
- Ask the CEO to sit in the chair and respond, “That’s fantastic!” to each issue
- Encourage the CEO to share the silver linings, or positives, of each issue
- Repeat the activity with different members as the team CEO
This icebreaker is an ideal way to help leaders find the positive side of any issue that comes their way.
12. Daily recap
One of the simplest leadership icebreakers for small groups is called daily recap. This activity helps leaders condense large sums of information into more digestible points. To play, participants should look back on their day and pick out the most impactful moments. Players should then share their recap with the group. For example, an employee could share that they had a breakthrough for a blog post after weeks of dealing with writer’s block.
The daily recap icebreaker is a great way to share important parts of the day with your team, such as lessons you learned.
13. Theme song
If you are looking for virtual leadership icebreakers, then we recommend playing an icebreaker called theme song. This icebreaker helps leaders get to know each other based on musical tastes. For example, you can begin the game by asking your team to imagine they are the main character in a movie. Then, you should ask, “What is your character’s theme song?” This question will make team members think about songs that describe them best. Then, players should share their theme song with the group and explain why they chose it.
The game’s objective is for players to share songs that mean a lot to them and why they feel they can relate to the song. Theme song is a great conversation starter and team bonding icebreaker.
14. Scrambled words
Scrambled words is one of the most interactive and engaging leadership icebreakers for high school students. You can follow these steps to play the game:
- Write eight random letters on a whiteboard
- Set a timer for three minutes
- Ask students to craft as many words as possible using the letters on the board
- Each word must be at least three letters
- After the timer goes off, have each team share their list of words
- Repeat for two or more rounds
This icebreaker is a great way to show students the importance of teamwork and collaboration.
15. Tell a story
Tell a story is a great leadership icebreaker that promotes teamwork, storytelling, and collaboration. The goal of this game is to create a cohesive story from beginning to end. However, each teammate should contribute one line to the story.
To begin the activity, have one team member start the story with one line. For example, the first player may say, “Once upon a time, there was a dedicated marketer who worked in New York City.” From there, each team member should use their creativity to add one line to the story. By the end of the game, you should have a complete narrative.
The goal of the tell a story icebreaker is to have team members work together to create a story from start to finish. Tell a story can also teach leaders the importance of allowing all members to speak their minds and share their innovative thoughts and ideas.
16. Hot and cold
Hot and cold is one of the most fun icebreaker games for in-person leadership meetings. You can prepare for this game by hiding a valuable item, such as a cell phone charger, somewhere in the room. Only one teammate should know the location of the object. The team leader should then encourage teammates to search for the hidden item. As players roam around the room, the leader should use the words hot and cold to let team members know if they are close or far from the object.
Hot and cold is an engaging icebreaker to help leaders develop their directing and commanding skills. In addition, this icebreaker can help leaders learn how to better express guidelines and directions to their teams.
17. Getting to know you
Getting to know you is a game filled with many insightful leadership icebreaker questions. To play, you should first compile a list of questions focused on getting to know your team’s leadership styles, such as:
- What is the best piece of leadership advice you have ever received?
- What is the best piece of leadership advice you have given to a peer?
- If you could have your dream job, what job would you choose?
- How do you overcome change as a leader?
- What is one professional accomplishment that makes you most proud?
- What is the biggest risk you have taken professionally?
You can go around the room having team members answer each question individually. This icebreaker is an ideal way to get to know the different leadership styles on your team.
Here are more get to know you questions.
18. Marshmallow tower
The Marshmallow tower is an interactive icebreaker where teams must build a tower using everyday items. You can follow these steps to play the marshmallow tower game:
- Split your group into teams of three
- Distribute marshmallows and uncooked pasta
- Set a timer for 10 to 15 minutes
- Ask teams to build towers using these supplies
- Declare the team with the tallest tower as the winner
Building tall free-standing towers out of marshmallows and uncooked pasta can quickly become complicated. This icebreaker requires creativity, innovation, and teamwork, making it the perfect activity for leaders. Marshmallow tower helps leaders build collaboration, problem-solving, and delegating skills.
Leadership icebreakers are a great way to develop leadership skills while bonding with teammates. Leaders may choose to participate in icebreakers with fellow leaders as a way to build skills and grow their networks. Leaders can also participate in icebreakers with their own teams to create a more unified team and a positive work environment.
Leadership is a complex topic. Different icebreakers and activities can help simplify the concept for employees in a fun and engaging way.