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13 Fun Leadership Activities for College Students

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

Do you think your students could use more than the “knowledge from the books”? Do you want to teach them valuable life skills? Then, you could surely use these fun leadership activities for college students! You’ll refresh this year’s curriculum and help your students develop much-needed leadership abilities.

Every student has the potential to be a good leader. As an educator, you should nurture that potential and inspire your students. Progress is something that requires effort, both from students themselves and from their professors. Leadership development is a part of personal growth but it’s essential in today’s world. When people are working in teams, they need high communication and collaborative skills, which leaders often have. A lot of activities can be added to leadership lesson plans for college students and we’re going to give you some of the best leadership game ideas.

Before we get further down the article, we’d just like to note a few things:

  • You should bring an enthusiastic spirit when engaging in these activities. Otherwise, your students might not be motivated to participate.
  • The most important thing about these activities is keeping an open mind. Ask your students for feedback, let them suggest some changes. This can only improve the learning experience.

What are the leadership skills for college students?

Leadership development underlines those activities that help you improve skills and abilities necessary in the corporate world. Some of the most positive leaders are honest, hard-working, encouraging, goal-oriented, etc. Leaders also need to be good listeners and have high communication skills.

To become better leaders, first, you need to choose the type of leader you want to be. There are so many different types of leadership, from democratic and laissez-faire styles to autocratic and authoritative leadership. Different activities put the accent on a different aspect of leadership, so think about what types of leadership qualities you want to inspire in your students.

As we said, good leaders know how to encourage people to work together towards a common goal. That’s why a lot of leadership development activities focus on team-building games that improve communication skills. Activities below can be used as a bonding experience between students, so they can learn how to work in a team efficiently.

Creative thinking

Leaders need to be suspicious about “common knowledge” and not take things for granted. They should be open-minded and imaginative, so they can find a creative solution to the problems. That’s why college students’ leadership activities should focus on developing creative thinking.

Scavenger hunt

This classic game has a lot to offer. Riddles and puzzles are great tools for improving problem-solving skills while also encouraging creativity and leadership traits. To find the treasure, students need to think outside the box and rely on each other’s knowledge.

This activity requires a lot of preparation to be the most effective. You need to scatter clues and riddles to the locations, ask persons on the different locations for help (let’s say a librarian can be the guardian of one riddle), and secure the “treasures”. Of course, rewards should be motivating, so students would be more engaged. Perhaps extending the deadline on that assignment can be a large boost.

Finding the treasure shouldn’t be easy. You need to inspire students to plan a strategy, communicate, and collaborate. To put more pressure, set a time limit in which they need to find as many items as possible. This will teach the students the importance of prioritizing tasks, delegating, decision-making, etc. You can also divide students into teams and let them choose the “leaders” of each team. Adapt the game as you like, but be sure to encourage an enthusiastic spirit in your students.

Shark tank

Inspired by the popular TV show, this activity can be used in the classroom with some adaptation. Choose the students that will be “entrepreneurs” and the ones that will be “investors”. Several teams of entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas, so they must come up with a product, brand name, logo, marketing strategy, etc. The investors then need to decide what team will get the funding for their project.

As you can guess, students will develop presentation and public speaking skills while they are pitching. They will also engage their creative thinking in order to come up with ideas. Feedback and group discussions are essential afterward. Try to point out the positive example together, so you can encourage good leadership behavior in the future.

Newspaper fashion show

This isn’t a game just for design students – everyone should try it at least once! It’s an opportunity to pull your students out of their comfort zones and into the productivity zone. Creating clothing items with just newspapers, tape, and scissors requires a lot of imagination.

Students can be divided into teams, so they can brainstorm ideas, or you can make this activity individual competition between students. Make sure to choose “models” for finished products and have a little fashion show in the end.

Classify this

What’s a better way to engage creativity than finding a connection between random objects? Display around 30 items on the desk. Choose various items, from notebooks to the water bottles, that can’t be connected in any obvious way. Divide students into teams and ask them to categorize the items. After some time ask them to present their lists and explain the logic behind their choices.

Problem-solving activities

The main purpose of these activities is to engage your students’ problem-solving skills. However, most of the activities below are performed in groups, so the students will get the extra benefit of developing communication and collaboration skills.

Water carry

Give students paper cups filled with ¾ of water and instruct them to carry the cups of water across the room without spilling them. Simple, right? However, adding challenges such as “you can only use one leg and one arm” makes things a bit more difficult.

Students will first try hopping on one leg but they’ll quickly realize that would spill the water. To reach a common goal, the students need to work as a team and come up with a solution. The best way to carry the cups is, of course, forming a chain of people that can pass the cups to each other.

Marshmallow tower

This is not just a leadership game for managers and big companies, everyone can play it! Building spaghetti towers with a marshmallow on top is an activity that requires collaboration, innovation, and problem-solving abilities. Students need to build the tallest structure out of set materials that can hold the weight of one marshmallow. Usual materials are dry spaghetti, string, and duck tape but you can add toothpicks, blocks, and other stuff you can think of.

Deserted island

Divide students into teams and let them imagine a scenario of getting lost on a deserted island. After you give them a bulleted list, ask them “How can you survive by only using 5 items on this list?” Students need to prioritize and rank those items, individually, and as a group. This will test their problem-solving abilities and also improve their communication skills.

Idea building blocks

Divide the students into teams and present a problem they need to solve. You can pose a problem related to the class subject. Ask team members to work together by writing their solution on a piece of paper that gets passed along the group.

One team member writes down an idea and others build upon that idea. The paper is passed around until every team member gives his/her input. You can choose a spokesperson who will present the solution of each team to the rest of the class. This activity will teach the students about the importance of team-work when solving problems.

Cooperation activities for college students

There are so many team-building activities you can try in your classroom. You can even ask the students if they would like to play some particular game. We’ll give you some examples of team building activities for college students and you just need to try the ones you like.

All tied up

Challenge the students to achieve a common goal when they’re tied up. Start by instructing them to form a circle and use a string to tie the neighbors together. After they’re all tied up, give them various tasks to complete. That can be anything really, from eating a snack to writing a few sentences in their notebooks. Keep in mind that more difficult tasks will require more effort and team-work.

Blind counting

A quick activity that doesn’t need preparation is blind counting. Arrange the group in a circle and have them stand with their backs facing the middle of the circle. Give them the task of counting to 30 (50,70,100). The goal is to count out loud with only one person saying one number at a time. If two persons say the same number at the same time, the group must start over.

Human knot

You know how difficult it is to untangle a knot. It gets even harder to untie a human knot! Form small groups of students (up to ten people) and instruct them to form a circle and hold the hand of two people that are not next to them. The goal is to untangle the knot without letting go of each other. If the chain is broken, start over.

This is a problem-solving activity based on communication and trust, so students need to collaborate in order to succeed. If you think the activity is “too easy” for them, try setting a time limit, blindfolding participants, or limiting words they can use.

Minefield

Do your students trust each other? It’s not easy to put faith and allow someone to lead you, so this activity is perfect for freshmen and the groups that just met. They need to build trust and learn how to collaborate towards a common goal.

The game is simple: blindfold one student, and asks the other to lead using simple words such as left, right, forward, etc. Once you blindfold one student, arrange an obstacle course with class furniture. The partner who leads will get blindfolded next time, etc.

Pub quiz

This would actually be a class version of the pub quizzes. Mimic trivia pub night with the questions from your subject materials. Choose a host and participants, set rules, and the competition can start! The question can be multiple-choice and teams can discuss the question for 30 seconds before answering. You can, of course, change the rules to fit your group’s dynamic. For example, give more time if needed. The point is to encourage teams to work together to come up with the best answers.

Frequently asked questions

What are the ways to practice leadership?

Start by thinking positively and proactively. Socialize and build strong networks. Listen and learn from other people. Work on self-growth and try to look at the bigger picture. You can also find a mentor that can help you achieve your goals.

What is a good leader?

A good leader is someone who encourages and listens to others, has a clear vision, and takes pride in his/her accomplishments. He/she is courageous, honest, humble, trustworthy, responsible, confident, knowledgeable, and empathetic.

How can you teach leadership?

As an educator, you can offer leadership opportunities to your students by putting them in charge, giving them good examples, encouraging them to participate in extracurricular activities, etc. You can also perform some of the activities mentioned in the article above, to boost their confidence and team-spirit.

Conclusion

We hope that our list of fun leadership activities for college students inspired you to shake things up in your class. Students need encouragement, so they can grow and become successful. Sometimes they need an additional boost from their professors and the best way to engage them is with leadership and team building activities? If your students need more motivation, check out our article on Motivational activities for college students.

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