Don’t let the word “game” and “activities” in the title put you off; they’re serious business when it comes to developing leadership skills. They offer a hands-on approach to learning by giving participants the chance to practice their skills, or improve their skills, in real-world scenarios. Who knows, you might just discover a natural-born leader among your team members.
What are the benefits of a leadership activity?
Try to see leadership games and activities as an opportunity for your employees to flex their leadership muscles and develop critical skills that will benefit your company in the long run. Think of it like a group workout session, but instead of building physical strength, your team builds essential leadership skills like communication, delegation, and problem-solving.
Not only are they beneficial for your team, they’re also an excellent chance to show that you’re not the scary, stereotypical boss that has been etched into the minds of many employees for decades. By taking part in these types of games and activities, you show that you are a dedicated part of the squad.
Let us take you on a journey through 32 of the best leadership games and activities. We hope to inspire you!
1. Marshmallow Challenge
- Gather your team in a designated workspace with a flat surface.
- Distribute spaghetti, tape, and a marshmallow to each team.
- Explain the objective: Build the tallest freestanding structure using the materials, with the marshmallow on top.
- Set a time limit and encourage planning before construction.
- Emphasize collaboration, effective communication, and leveraging strengths.
- Encourage creativity and experimentation with different construction techniques.
- Measure the height of each tower once the time is up. Tallest wins!
Forget about eating marshmallows - now it's all about constructing with them! This game encourages your team to think outside the box, unleash their creativity, and work collaboratively. Balancing the weight of the marshmallow requires strategic planning and efficient teamwork. Plus, it's a chance to see if your tower can withstand the "sticky" situations that leadership often entails.
2. Leadership TED Talks
Instructions: Watch inspiring TED Talks on leadership and engage in discussions about the insights and lessons shared.
TED Talks are like nuggets of wisdom served on a silver platter. This game brings leaders face-to-face with captivating speakers who share their leadership journeys, insights, and lessons learned. It sparks thought-provoking conversations, broadens perspectives, and ignites inspiration. By exploring diverse voices and ideas, leaders gain fresh perspectives and unlock new possibilities on their own leadership path.
3. Leadership Quotes
- Share inspiring leadership quotes and allow people to individually reflect on their meaning.
- Make sure you are the one to lead a lively group discussion around the quotes and their relevance to leadership.
- Encourage people to share personal experiences related to the themes expressed in the quotes.
- Foster an inclusive environment for exploring different perspectives and insights.
- Summarize key takeaways and encourage people to apply the wisdom gained to their leadership journey.
- Provide resources for further exploration of leadership quotes and their authors.
Who says leadership can't be profound and thought-provoking? This game sparks intellectual conversations and encourages your team to explore different perspectives. By diving into the wisdom of great minds, they'll gain new insights, expand their horizons, and ignite their leadership spark.
4. The Meeting (Game)
- Choose a leader and participants for the meeting.
- Assign roles to each participant: a presenter, a skeptic, a supporter, and a neutral observer.
- The presenter will give a presentation on a topic related to the company, while the skeptic will challenge their arguments and the supporter will defend them. The neutral observer will take notes and provide feedback after the meeting.
- The leader will moderate the discussion and ensure that all participants have equal opportunities to speak.
- The goal of the meeting is to reach a consensus or agreement on the topic presented by the presenter.
- After the meeting, the neutral observer will provide feedback to the presenter and the group on their performance and the effectiveness of the discussion.
This role-playing game is the perfect opportunity show your team’s leadership skills in a fun and engaging way. With the help of their team-mates, they will learn how to moderate discussions, manage conflicting opinions, and reach a consensus. Plus, with the feedback from the neutral observer, they will receive valuable insights on how to improve their performance. So, grab that gavel, and let's get down to business!
5. Trust Fall
- Gather your team in an open space, free from obstacles.
- Explain the objective: to build trust and reliance on each other.
- Form pairs: one person as the "faller" and the other as the "catcher."
- Instruct fallers to stand tall with eyes closed and arms crossed, while catchers position themselves behind them.
- Emphasize trust and encourage fallers to let go, fall backwards, and trust their catchers.
Just like a daring leader, this game builds trust and shows that you're willing to rely on your team. By taking the plunge and falling back, you demonstrate vulnerability and foster a sense of security within your group.
6. Blindfolded Obstacle Course
- Choose a team member to be blindfolded.
- Set up an obstacle course with various obstacles such as chairs, cones, and ropes.
- The team members who are not blindfolded should stand around the obstacle course and guide the blindfolded member through it using only verbal instructions.
- The blindfolded member must rely on the instructions given by their teammates and navigate through the course.
- If the blindfolded member touches an obstacle, they must start over from the beginning.
- Switch roles so that each team member has a chance to be blindfolded.
Blindfolded leadership? Sounds like a metaphor, but it's an actual game! By relying on effective communication and trust, team members learn to guide their team members through the dark and unpredictable paths of life. This game highlights the importance of clear instructions, active listening, and building trust within a team.
If you enjoyed this team communication game, make sure to check out our blog on 33 of the best team communication games for more inspiration!
7. Egg Drop
- Divide into teams and provide each team with materials such as newspaper, tape, straws, and plastic bags.
- Provide each team with an egg that they will need to protect from breaking when dropped from a height.
- Set a time limit for teams to build their contraptions.
- Once the contraptions are built, take turns dropping each team's egg from a predetermined height.
- If the egg breaks, the team is eliminated.
- The team with the egg that survives the longest drop without breaking is the winner.
This game challenges to think critically, innovate, and find unconventional solutions. Just like protecting an egg requires careful planning and ingenuity, leading a team through difficult situations demands resourcefulness and the ability to adapt. It's a game that cracks open your problem-solving skills and brings out the leader who can handle even the most delicate situations.
Dotmocracy is a decision-making task that involves participants placing dots or stickers on options or ideas to indicate their preferences. It is also referred to as dot voting or sticker voting.
- Clearly define the decision or topic that requires input from the participants. It could be anything from choosing a new office layout to selecting a team-building activity.
- Compile a list of options or ideas related to the decision. Make sure each option is concise and clearly understandable. Write them down on a large display, whiteboard, or chart paper.
- Provide each participant with a predetermined number of dot stickers.
- Briefly explain the voting guidelines. Let participants know they can distribute their dots among the options in any way they prefer. They can place multiple dots on a single option or spread them across different options, depending on their preferences.
- Give participants time to place their dots on the options. Encourage them to think critically and consider their own perspectives.
- Once the voting phase is complete identify the options with the highest number of dots as the most favored choices.
- Engage the participants in a discussion based on the results. Encourage them to share their thoughts, perspectives, and reasons for their choices.
Dotmocracy is the game that's more than just sticking dots, It's a powerhouse for developing leadership skills in the office. Giving everyone a voice and a handful of stickers transforms quiet cubicle dwellers into confident decision-makers. Employees will also learn to assert their preferences, negotiate, and strategize; factors that are necessary for improving leadership skills.
9. Tower Building
- Divide players into teams.
- Provide each team with a set of materials such as blocks, cards, straws, cups, and tape.
- Set a time limit of 10-15 minutes for the teams to build the tallest tower.
- Ensure that each team follows the same rules and uses the same materials.
- Once the time is up, measure the height of each tower and declare the winner.
- Discuss the strategies used by each team and how they could improve in future rounds.
- Repeat the game with different materials or variations to continue challenging the players' leadership skills.
This game unleashes potential leaders' creativity, teamwork, and strategic thinking. Just like a tower, leadership requires a solid foundation, balance, and the ability to reach new heights. It challenges leaders to allocate resources efficiently, communicate effectively, and inspire their team to elevate their performance.
10. Leadership Styles Quiz
- Begin by researching and finding a leadership style quiz on the internet.
- Allow your team to read through the questions and ask them to choose the answer that best reflects their leadership approach.
- Once they have completed the quiz, review their results and take note of their leadership style.
- Engage in a group discussion about the different leadership styles and how they can be applied in various situations.
- Share insights on how to adapt leadership style to different scenarios.
- Encourage open communication and active listening during the discussion.
Who doesn't love personality quizzes? This activity helps team members to understand their unique leadership style and explore different approaches. By delving into the nuances of leadership styles, you'll gain self-awareness and learn how to adapt your style to different situations. It's like discovering your leadership superpower and unleashing it to save the day!
11. Scavenger Hunt
- Divide people into teams of 4-6 people.
- Provide each team with a list of clues and challenges related to leadership.
- Each team must work together to solve the clues and complete the challenges.
- The clues may lead to different locations or objects that the teams must find.
- Some challenges may require physical tasks, while others may require problem-solving or critical thinking.
- The first team to complete all the challenges and return to the starting point wins.
This game combines adventure, teamwork, and strategic thinking. You and your team embark on an exciting journey to uncover clues, solve riddles, and complete challenges. It fosters collaboration, communication, and quick thinking—all crucial elements of effective leadership.
12. Leadership Guest Speaker
Invite a guest speaker with leadership experience to share insights and engage in a Q&A session.
Sometimes, wisdom comes in the form of a guest speaker. This activity brings potential leaders face-to-face with experienced professionals who can share valuable insights and inspire greatness. The guest speaker's stories, advice, and lessons learned provide a fresh perspective on leadership. It's an opportunity to learn from the best, ask burning questions, and gain wisdom that can shape your team’s leadership journey.
13. Leadership Case Studies
- Gather your team.
- Choose real-life leadership case studies to present.
- Start discussions on how the leadership challenges could have been handled differently.
- Encourage critical thinking and analyze different perspectives.
- Refine your team's problem-solving skills by dissecting the scenarios presented.
3 Real-life leadership examples:
- Elon Musk and Tesla: Analyze Musk's leadership at Tesla, focusing on his visionary style, innovation in the electric vehicle industry, and overcoming challenges to motivate the team.
- Indra Nooyi and PepsiCo: Examine Nooyi's leadership at PepsiCo, emphasizing sustainability, diversity, brand diversification, and her ability to navigate a multinational corporation.
- Jacinda Ardern and COVID-19: Analyze Ardern's leadership during the pandemic, evaluating her communication, empathy, and decisive actions in effectively leading New Zealand through the crisis.
This game immerses your squad in compelling case studies that delve into complex leadership challenges. By dissecting these scenarios, your team members develop critical thinking, analyze different perspectives, and refine their problem-solving skills. It's like stepping into the shoes of renowned leaders and unraveling the mysteries of effective leadership.
14. Networking Activity
Instructions: Arrange a networking session where people practice their networking skills and build connections with others.
Networking is a vital skill for any working team, and this game provides the perfect platform to sharpen it. Engage in meaningful conversations, exchange ideas, and establish valuable connections. It cultivates communication, relationship-building, and the art of influencing—a trifecta of leadership prowess.
15. Conflict Resolution Simulation
Instructions: Assign people different roles in a simulated conflict and guide them through the resolution process.
Conflict can be as thrilling as an action movie—minus the explosions, of course. This game plunges your team members into the heart of the conflict, challenging them to navigate through choppy waters. It develops crucial skills such as empathy, active listening, negotiation, and finding win-win solutions. Team members emerge stronger, with the ability to transform conflicts into opportunities for growth.
16. Cinematic Leadership Video Analysis
Instructions: Watch movie scenes showcasing different leadership styles and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.
Movie scenes showcasing great leadership skills:
- "Braveheart" (1995), Scene: The Battle Speech - William Wallace (played by Mel Gibson) delivers a rousing speech to his army, inspiring courage, unity, and purpose. He rallies his troops, showcasing strong leadership skills.
- "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003), Scene: Aragorn's Coronation - Aragorn (played by Viggo Mortensen) accepts his destiny as the rightful king, demonstrating humility, wisdom, and selflessness. He inspires hope and unites the people against evil.
- "Remember the Titans" (2000), Scene: Team Integration - Coach Herman Boone (played by Denzel Washington) takes charge of a racially divided football team. He demands respect, breaks down barriers, and fosters unity, displaying strong leadership skills.
This activity takes your team on a cinematic journey, exploring various leadership styles through video analysis. It fosters critical thinking, observation, and the ability to identify effective leadership behaviors. By studying on-screen leaders, you'll expand your team’s leadership repertoire and discover new strategies.
17. Personal Leadership Vision
Instructions: Have people create and present their personal leadership vision statements, outlining their values and goals.
This game invites your team to introspect, reflect, and articulate their personal leadership vision. It helps define the leader they aspire to be, clarifies their values, and sets a course for their leadership journey. With a compelling vision statement, you'll inspire others, align actions with purpose, and navigate the leadership landscape with clarity.
18. Escape Rooms
Escape room games in the office are essentially leadership boot camps by promoting must-have leadership skills. They will challenge your staff to make quick decisions, delegate tasks and communicate effectively under pressure.
They’re easy to convert from the traditional ‘escape rooms’ to the office setting too!
- Create a compelling theme or storyline for the office-based escape room. It could revolve around a corporate mystery, a time-sensitive task, or a workplace-related challenge that needs to be solved.
- Identify a specific area or multiple rooms within the office that can be transformed into the escape room setting. Decorate the space(s) accordingly to match the theme and storyline, incorporating puzzles, clues, and props.
- Divide employees into teams, ensuring a mix of skills and departments. Encourage cross-functional collaboration and diversity within each group.
- Establish a time limit for each team to escape or solve the challenge. Clearly communicate the rules, including any limitations or restrictions, to ensure a fair and consistent experience for all participants.
- Design a series of puzzles, riddles, codes, or tasks that teams must solve within the designated time. Incorporate office-related elements to make the challenges relevant and engaging. Consider using technology, hidden compartments, or interactive elements to enhance the experience.
- Offer teams a limited number of clues or hints they can use when they encounter difficulty. This ensures they don't get stuck for too long and maintains the momentum of the game.
- After the game, gather all teams for a debriefing session. Encourage participants to share their experiences, lessons learned, and insights gained during the escape room challenge. Discuss teamwork strategies, problem-solving approaches, and any innovative solutions that emerged.
For more inspiring team building games or ideas. make sure to check out our 50 awesome team building games, They might just give you the inspiration for your next amazing team building day.
19. Feedback and Reflection
Instructions: Engage in feedback sessions where leaders give and receive constructive feedback on their leadership behaviors and actions.
This activity emphasizes the importance of feedback in leadership growth. Your team members learn to give and receive feedback gracefully, cultivating a culture of continuous improvement. Constructive feedback helps your team to identify blind spots, recognize their strengths, and refine their leadership style.
20. Team Bonding Activities
Instructions: Engage in activities like team lunches, outdoor adventures, or team-building games to foster connections among team members.
A cohesive team is the secret sauce of outstanding leadership. Team bonding activities create a sense of belonging, strengthen relationships, and boost team morale. They allow leaders to create a positive and inclusive team culture, where individuals feel valued and supported. Whether you're sharing a meal, conquering an obstacle course, or laughing through team games, these activities create bonds that propel your team to achieve greatness.
For more ideas and inspiration, head over to our blog that contains a whopping 37 team building activity ideas!
21. Human Knot
- Gather your team in a circle, ensuring everyone can hold hands with two others.
- Explain the objective: to untangle the human knot without letting go of hands.
- Instruct people to hold hands with two different people across the circle, avoiding those beside them.
- Challenge them to communicate, work together, and find pathways to untangle the knot while maintaining hand contact.
- Celebrate success or set a time limit for added challenge. Debrief on communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.
This game ties you up in knots, quite literally! It challenges your team to communicate effectively, think creatively, and solve problems collaboratively. Leading your team towards success requires untangling complexities, and this game helps develop those skills while providing a few laughs.
22. Values Alignment Exercise
Instructions: Have leaders identify and articulate their core values and engage in discussions on aligning their values with their leadership actions.
Values are the compass that guides leaders on their journey. This game allows your team to delve deep into their core values, identify what matters most, and align their leadership actions accordingly. It creates self-awareness, strengthens authenticity, and fosters integrity in leadership.
23. Leadership Book Club
Instructions: Read and discuss leadership books together, sharing insights and key takeaways from the readings.
A leadership book club provides an opportunity to dive into the wisdom of renowned authors, explore different leadership philosophies, and learn from the experiences of others. It sparks intellectual discussions, expands knowledge, and ignites inspiration. By delving into these books together, leaders cultivate a culture of continuous learning and feed their hunger for leadership excellence.
24. Leadership Panel Discussion
Instructions: Organize a panel discussion with leaders from various backgrounds and industries, addressing leadership topics and answering questions.
Ready to enter the leadership spotlight? A panel discussion gathers leaders with diverse experiences, expertise, and perspectives to share their wisdom. It's a platform for thought-provoking discussions, dynamic exchanges, and gaining insights from successful leaders. By participating in the panel and asking burning questions, your team can expand their horizons, challenge their assumptions, and elevate their leadership acumen.
25. Leadership Role Models
Instructions: Have leaders research and present on their chosen leadership role models, highlighting their qualities and impact.
Role models inspire and guide leaders on their journey. This game encourages leaders to explore the lives and accomplishments of influential leaders. By studying their role models, leaders gain insights into exemplary leadership traits and behaviors. It fosters inspiration, sets a benchmark for excellence, and allows leaders to learn from the best. Dive into the world of leadership icons, discover the secrets of their success, and let their legacies shape your own leadership path.
26. Mind Mapping Challenge
- Gather your team and divide into groups
- Provide people with blank paper and colored markers.
- Introduce the goal or challenge and set a time limit.
- Encourage people to share ideas and connect them using branches or lines.
- Use colors, codes, and symbols to emphasize key concepts or action steps.
- Have the group collaborate to create a comprehensive map.
- Discuss and analyze the different strategies and identify common themes or priorities.
- Present and explain individual or group mind maps.
- Summarize insights gained, decisions made, and next steps to implement ideas.
Minds, maps, and leadership magic! Mind mapping exercises stimulate creativity, strategic thinking, and clarity of vision. Your team members unleash their imagination, connecting ideas, goals, and action steps in a visual format. It helps organize thoughts, identify priorities, and communicate plans effectively.
27. Appreciation Circle
Instructions: Create a space for leaders to express appreciation for each other's contributions and strengths.
Gratitude is the secret ingredient of exceptional leadership. The appreciation circle allows your team to acknowledge and celebrate the strengths and achievements of their coworkers. It creates a positive and uplifting environment, fostering a culture of appreciation and recognition. By expressing gratitude, leaders build stronger relationships, boost team morale, and inspire their team to give their best. Gather in a circle, shower each other with praise, and watch your leadership bonds grow stronger.
28. Reverse Mentoring
Instructions: Pair people with different levels of experience in a reverse mentoring relationship. The less experienced individuals mentor the more experienced ones, sharing fresh perspectives and knowledge.
It's like flipping the leadership script and giving the underdogs a chance to teach the old dogs some new tricks. By pairing less experienced individuals with seasoned leaders, reverse mentoring unleashes a whirlwind of fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and the wisdom of youth. It's a leadership shake-up that challenges status quo and ignites mutual learning, making it a win-win for all involved. Perhaps consider involving yourself in this activity and allowing a newbie to mentor you. You never know, you could be mentored by the rising stars of tomorrow!
29. Leadership Cultural Exchange
- Divide people into small groups representing different cultures or countries.
- Encourage each group to share their cultural values, leadership practices, and challenges. Emphasize the importance of open-mindedness, respect, and active listening.
- Allow time for each group to ask questions and learn from one another.
- Encourage people to take note of key insights and learnings.
By diving into diverse cultures and sharing insights, this game unearths hidden gems of wisdom from around the world. Discover unique leadership practices, tackle cross-cultural challenges, and become a culturally savvy leader. Buckle up for a leadership journey that transcends borders and unlocks a treasure trove of intercultural leadership know-how.
30. Leadership Legacy Project
- Explain that people will be creating a fictional project that leaves a positive impact on their community or organization.
- Set a timeframe for the project and establish any rules or guidelines people need to follow.
- Encourage people to brainstorm ideas for their project, and to think about what skills and resources they have to work with.
- Once people have settled on a project idea, have them plan their approach, including tasks, timelines, and resources needed.
- people should work on executing their project, while keeping track of progress and making adjustments as needed.
- When the project is complete, have people take time to reflect on what they learned and how their leadership skills developed throughout the project.
This activity isn't just about leaving a lasting legacy, it's about building one too. By working on a project that benefits their community or organization, people learn how to lead with purpose and impact. It's a chance to test their leadership skills in the real world, get their hands dirty, and make a difference. Plus, reflecting on the journey helps them grow as leaders and creates a ripple effect of positive change. It's leadership that pays it forward!
31. Lead the way
- Divide participants into small groups of 4-6 people.
- Explain the game's purpose: Explore leadership qualities and promote collaboration.
- Set the scenario: Stranded on a deserted island, reach a designated rescue point within a time limit.
- Provide teams with whiteboards, markers, and roles (Leader, Communicator, Problem Solver, Timekeeper, Recorder).
- Present challenges related to survival, discuss strategies, and have teams present solutions.
This game is an awesome Icebreaker that encourages leadership skills to be developed. It throws participants into a stranded island scenario where they must navigate challenges and reach rescue. By assigning specific roles and promoting collaboration, it unveils individuals' leadership qualities. Teams strategize, communicate, problem-solve, and make decisions under pressure. Conflicts may arise, but they're resolved through teamwork. It's a crash course in leadership, where participants learn and grow while having a thrilling time.
If you enjoyed this particular ice-breaker, make sure to check out our blog on large group ice-breaking activities!
32. The Leadership Jigsaw Puzzle
- Divide participants into teams of 4-6 with puzzles and workspace.
- Teams solve the puzzle within a specified time, demonstrating leadership skills.
- Assign the role of ‘team leader’ and allow them to oversee progress.
- Set a time limit for completion, emphasizing collaboration and effective communication.
- Debrief and discuss team approaches, leadership qualities, challenges, and strategies.
- Reflect on individual and collective leadership skills, share insights and lessons.
This game is no ordinary puzzle-solving extravaganza. It challenges teams to collaborate, communicate, and showcase their leadership prowess. By assigning team leaders, setting time limits, and emphasizing effective problem-solving, this game hones their ability to guide and bring out the best in your team. So grab your puzzle pieces and get ready to unlock your team’s inner leadership maestro in a fun and engaging way.
So there we have it, 32 of the best games and activities that promote and grow leadership qualities.
But you may be asking yourself, “In what setting can I carry out these games and activities?”, and this would be a great question to ask!
What’s the best setting for leadership activities?
Of course, the vast majority of these games are designed for the office setting, no matter how small or big your office is! However, if you really want to experience the best from your team, we couldn’t recommend getting away from the office enough. Break the monotony of the 9-5 and watch the results pour in. Let us explain.
Take this scenario as an example: We’re in the UK, a dreary morning greets your team as they trickle into the office, late due to vile weather outside. You've planned a leadership activity to kick off the day, but the tired groans seem to indicate that they aren’t all that thrilled with your idea.
What if you change the setting, though? Picture your team basking in the Miami sun, sharing a seaside breakfast before embarking on a game of Blindfold Obstacle Course. The difference is night and day, and the results will speak for themselves.
At Surf Office, we specialize in providing team-building retreats in stunning locales worldwide. Whether it's next to the beach in Miami or in the heart of snowy Prague, we can help you transform your team's performance like never before.
Contact us now for more information.