The success or failure of an organization is dependent on its leadership to an uncommonly high extent. Leadership at the helm is an indication of the team’s future.
“The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders, and continually develops them.” – John Maxwell
But very few organizations invest in leadership development. Some believe leadership skills are inherent, while some choose to hire proven leaders, and some prefer to promote employees based on meritocracy, without checking if the leadership style of the team member is conducive for growth in the organization. Also, the idea that leadership skills are difficult to develop, puts organizations off from investing in future leaders. But the process need not be complicated – developing leadership concepts could be as simple as playing games.
That is why this article focuses on games that double up as leadership training activities.
How to make leadership fun?
Being an effective leader can be stressful. With plenty of decisions to make about the project and ensuring the smooth functioning of teams, there is hardly any time for work, let alone making it fun.
But this is why developing leadership skills matter. Finding happiness in everyday work can be stressful, but successful leaders who manage to do that tend to have happier workforces. There are leadership development activities that can help future leaders in developing relevant skills, and the games listed later in the article can help in identifying leadership traits.
What are good leadership Games?
Leadership activities that promote critical thinking, active listening, and team building can be a good way to instill leadership qualities among employees. The act of self-development is a motivator for people, and using games can be a fun and exciting way to nudge them in their path of professional & leadership development.
Benefits of Leadership Games
Make no mistake, leadership games and activities are a powerful way to improve the work performances of your employees. They are essentially leadership development activities, which enhance different leadership styles by:
- Improving Communication skills
- Making them delegate tasks confidently
- Boosting Productivity and Creativity
- Encouraging Teamwork
- Enhancing Problem Solving Skills
- Motivating Individuals
These games can be implemented during leadership training, conferences, and company events.
The Best Games for Leadership Development
1. Swamp Romp
A Swamp Romp is excellent for team building and leadership training. It is a team race through difficult swamp-like terrain. This can be fun, but make sure you warn the teams that they may get a bit dirty! A Swamp Romp will push people physically and test their emotional intelligence, as they need to rely on each other to complete the race. Swamp Romp is ideal for training conferences or weekend events.
Time: This game can be completed in about 30 minutes.
Materials: Shoes and clothes that can get dirty, and a planned route for the game.
- Plan a “swamp” route through the countryside or in a park. Make sure that it is a bit dirty and challenging.
- Create a clear map or place markers to guide the teams.
- Divide the group into two teams.
- The entire team must finish the course. Time the event. The last team member on each team that finishes will lock in the official time. Whichever team has the shortest time, wins.
Cautions: Make sure that the physical concerns of the group are met. (ie. provide ramps for individuals with wheelchairs, have a first aid kit on hand)
Charades is a popular ice-breaker type of leadership game. It teaches creativity and communication skills to your team. It is excellent for groups with at least five or more group members. This game can be done at training and conferences.
Time: Plan to spend 15-30 minutes to play Charades.
Materials: Scrap paper and a container to hold the scraps.
- Tear up the paper into small pieces with enough room to write a word on them.
- Write down a genre. Select popular well-known titles for the teams to guess.
- Separate everyone into two teams. Flip a coin to determine who goes first.
- Have a team member from the first team select a piece of paper to act out the genre and title.
- Allow ten seconds for team members to decide how to act out the title without speaking.
- Give team members 2-3 minutes to guess what it could be. Each team earns a point for correct guesses.
- Alternate turns between the teams.
- The team with the highest score wins.
3. Leading the Blind
Leading the Blind is a great game to build communication skills within your organization. It is ideal for people at a conference or during a training. This game relies on communication among teammates to navigate a course.
Time: 20-30 minutes depending on the created course.
Materials: A blindfold and a course for the participants.
- Create a course with some obstacles to avoid.
- Split the group into teams.
- Have teams select a team member to be blindfolded and a team member to lead the blindfolded person.
- Instruct the leaders to guide the blindfolded team member with only verbal communication through the course.
- The first team member to cross the finish line wins.
4. The Human Scavenger Hunt
The Human Scavenger Hunt is a fun ice-breaker game that develops interpersonal skills, self-confidence, and communication. Participants will ask each other questions and build a positive atmosphere. It brings people together through open conversation. This can be played at regular meetings, events, and conferences.
Time: 10-15 minutes
Materials: Photocopied page for each team member with 10-15 questions
- Come up with 10-15 questions relating to people in general. (For example, who had a paper route growing up?) Photocopy the questions for the entire group.
- Give out the questions. Explain they have to find people who have done each of the things.
- Allow the participants ten minutes to discover who in the group meets the requirements for each question.
- Have participants share stories about their experiences.
- Whoever finishes the questionnaire first wins.
This is a great game to improve communication and get to know the group on a more personal level. It opens the participants up for communication and connectivity. Participants may discover new and exciting things they have in common with their co-workers and peers.
5. The Leadership Race
This is a game designed to allow participants to share their past experiences of leadership. It helps to gauge where participants are in their team-building journey and their leadership philosophy. This game provides lots of opportunities for feedback.
Time: Flexible 20-30 minutes.
Materials: Start line, finish line, and pieces of paper.
- Create a lane for each team member in the group that allows for plenty of personal space.
- Write out 20 leadership activities or expressions on pieces of paper. Fold them and put them into a bag. Examples of expression can be “I’ve never had a problem being supervised.” or “I always speak positively about my team.”
- Instruct the group to take a step forward when they agree with the statements or expressions.
- Choose people who stepped forward to give examples of their leadership activities to make sure they are correct.
- Continue with questions until someone gets to the end.
- The first one to make it to the finish line wins.
6. The Human Knot
This is one of the fun leadership activities that can be done at company events. Participants will form a chain and then try to untangle themselves without breaking the chain. It encourages teamwork, builds communication. Participants use problem-solving skills to untangle themselves.
Time: 20 minutes
Materials: Just the participants
- Participants will stand together in a circle. They will be shoulder to shoulder.
- Instruct the participants to place their right hand in the hand of someone standing from them in the circle.
- Place the left hand in the hand of a different person.
- Participants must try to untangle themselves without breaking the chain.
- If they break the chain, they must start again.
7. Shark Tank
This is a fun team-building activity that is a spin-off of the popular television show, Shark Tank. This game will encourage the entrepreneurial spirit and enhance creative thinking skills. The teams will have to communicate effectively and collaborate to come up with a great business plan that theoretically gets funding. This game is ideal for conferences. If you are looking to build an entrepreneurial & team of risk-takers, this leadership game is definitely for you.
Time: 60-90 minutes
Materials: flipchart, pens, paper
- Divide the group into teams of 2-6. Have them come up with a business idea to pitch.
- Ask the groups to draft a business plan that includes data about the target market, pricing strategy, financial forecasts, and unique selling proposition.
- Select 4 people to be the “sharks”. Give them fake money to invest in the ideas.
- Encourage group members to put themselves into the investors’ shoes with detailed questions about the business models.
- The team that wins the most funding wins.
8. The Survival Game
The Survival game increases teamwork skills. Participants must work together to prioritize a list of essentials that they would need to survive on an island. The team that comes up with the list that matches the correct ranking the most wins.
It is a great game to play at an event or weekend conference.
Time: 30 minutes
Materials: Paper for a list
- Each team member is given a list of 15 items.
- Have individuals first rank the items of importance.
- The individuals will collaborate with the group members to reorganize the items and agree on the order of importance.
- Once they have made the decisions or the time runs out, the facilitator reveals the correct ranking.
- Teams must compare their rankings with the correct ranking.
- The team that matches the ranking of importance most closely wins.
9. Marshmallow Challenge
The Marshmallow Challenge builds group communication skills, innovation, and problem-solving strategies. For this challenge, teams compete to build the tallest free-standing structure out of marshmallows, raw spaghetti, tape, and string. The marshmallow must be placed on the top.
This event is great for conferences and events.
Time: 20 minutes
Materials: marshmallows, spaghetti, tape, string
- Divide group into teams of 3-5 people.
- Distribute 1 marshmallow, 15 pieces of spaghetti, tape, and string to each group.
- Tell the groups to work together to build the tallest structure and place the marshmallow on the top of the structure without having it fall over.
- The team that builds the tallest structure wins.
While these are generic games but with a little twist & mindfulness, any organization can turn them into leadership games. Developing leadership does not necessarily mean spending heavy resources in training, rather making one thing obvious through leadership activities – that leadership is associated with even day-to-day ordinary situations.