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11 Interesting Leadership Development Activities for Managers

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Leadership development activities for managers became essential for improving productivity at work. Nowadays people are working in teams and leadership skills are needed for improving the team’s performance. Many tools are used for leadership development. Coaching and peer support can help someone become a better leader. There are also a lot of games and activities available to practice leadership and team-building skills. We’re going to give you some interesting ideas about this topic, so be sure to keep scrolling.

We’d like to note a few things first:

  • Whether you’re the one designing games for your employees or you’re looking for ways to bond with your team, make sure to greet changes with an open mind. These activities will have a much bigger effect if you’re enthusiastic and excited to try them out.
  • Unifying a group is essential for achieving a common goal. A lot of leadership activities are focused on building team spirit. This means that you can use some of these activities as team-building exercises too.
  • Games are all about stealth learning. People will have a good time, while also doing something useful for their personal growth.

What are the leadership skills activities?

Participating in leadership development training activities is an effective way to strengthen your leadership skills. These exercises test (and improve) your abilities while, at the same time, build team spirit and improve the skills of your team. In controlled situations you can simulate various scenarios and prepare yourself for any situation it might occur.

Leadership training activities for employees can be organized in the office or you can perform them in a venue used for team-building activities. The best solution is, of course, integrating the two events and encouraging people to have fun while they’re learning. We’ll propose some team building activities for leadership, so you can develop teamwork skills such as communication, conflict resolution, active listening, decision making, etc.

Overall, leadership activities help people become better leaders. They also give you an opportunity to recognize different types of leaders in your work surroundings. Then you can delegate tasks and responsibilities according to each type of employee. Leaders should inspire and improve productivity at work, so it’s important to have different people around.

THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS

Leadership exercises for managers can be performed in the form of thought experiments. It’s interesting and easy to conduct a thought experiment. You just need a group of enthusiastic and creative people willing to focus on the subject. Encourage them to participate in the hypothetical scenarios. By their reactions and responses, you’ll see what traits they have. Of course, reenacting scenarios will help them improve those traits and develop new skills.

Survival scenarios

Simple survival scenarios can be a great practice of problem-solving and collaboration skills. Strong leaders will stand out to provide guidance and help people work together. Keep an eye for the people who “survived” using creativity, innovative solutions, patience, empathy, communication, reliability on others, etc. These skills are just examples of leadership traits that can be found in a lot of people. The sole purpose of leadership development is to nurture those skills.

To start the game, you need to divide the participants into two teams and present them with a survival situation (a plane crash, lost in the woods, shipwreck). Give both teams a list of items that might be useful in that situation. The challenge is choosing just five items that will help them survive. After each team finishes, ask the members how they would use those items to survive and overcome difficult circumstances.

The alternative is to let them choose the items from the office. Instead of the items from the list, they can pick “ordinary” items around them and explain the reasons why. If people in groups don’t agree they could “rank” the items and make small pros/cons lists. Make sure to give the teams enough time to reflect on the situation before they present their answers. However, a very short timer will put additional pressure, so if you want to check how your employees are working under pressure, give them only 5-10 minutes for the exercise.

What if

Similar to survival scenarios you can nurture leadership skills by presenting problematic scenarios to your employees and encouraging them to explain their plan of action. These hypothetical “what would you do” scenarios need to be difficult and tricky while employees have a limited time to decide.

You could ask for written answers or oral responses, as it suits your group’s dynamics, but they need to be well elaborated. Note that this activity doesn’t have to be performed in groups. Try inviting your employees one at a time in your office to ask them about their choice in a difficult hypothetical situation.

Challenging questions inspire analytical thinking, accountability, and problem-solving skills, so think carefully about the scenarios you present. They can be related to the corporate world. For example, “You’ve lost an important client. How do you justify your actions and come up with the solution?” You could also pose a moral dilemma in correlation with work ethics. The question can be “Would you take the promotion even if you think it’s undeserved?”

CREATIVE EXERCISES

Although creativity is neglected in the corporate world, it’s essential for good leaders. Creativity often gives us the best solutions to the problems because it opens new horizons. The leadership development ideas below will enhance creative thinking.

All aboard

Leadership skills come from inspiration, innovation, and making something “out of scrap”. Form teams and give materials to build a boat big enough to stand in. After the teams finish, remove some pieces (like wood or mats used for the “floor) and challenge the team members to “stay aboard” however they can. Diminishing the cracks of the boat can be done with proper communication and problem-solving skills, so to win the teams should “give their best” which consequently improves their abilities.

Marshmallow tower

The Marshmallow Challenge is a very popular team-building activity and for a very good reason. Teams are competing in building the tallest structure out of presented materials (dry spaghetti, a string, duck tape, and one marshmallow for the top). The tower is built on group communication, collaboration, innovation, leadership dynamics, and problem-solving strategies.

You can play an alternative version when you build skyscrapers out of tape, string, newspapers, toothpicks, blocks, uncooked pasta, and other unique materials. The principle stays the same because you need to have a stable tower at the end that can hold the weight of the marshmallow.

Leaders you like

This simple training activity for managers is performed as a group discussion. One of the ways you learn to become a good leader is having a role model. You can divide the people into groups, so they discuss the admirable leaders. After some time, each team should present their choice to others and explain the reasons why they chose that particular person.

Reflection on positive leadership traits can be combined with revealing negative behaviors too. You’ll talk about how people should be motivated and what behaviors should be avoided. This will spark discussion after which you can have a brainstorming session of good/bad leadership traits.

Completing the tasks

Set the tables with different tasks. On each table, the group chooses a leader that can communicate, give suggestions, and delegate tasks but can’t participate in actual work. After one table is finished, the people move to the next which is organized in the same way. Record the needed time for completing tasks at each table and afterward compare the results.

Note that the task on each table should be equally difficult. As leaders change, people will perform faster or slower. Don’t take this exercise to validate someone’s work. Instead, praise positive actions and explain why one approach works while another doesn’t.

Leader’s race

Think about 10-20 leadership qualities (or search for them online) and make a list of statements that reflect those qualities. For example “I am comfortable making important decisions”, “I am approachable even during stressful times”, etc.

Gather the people in a straight line. Read each quality statement and tell participants who have that quality to take one step forward. People should justify why a particular statement applies to them with one example of an everyday situation. Continue reading statements until you have a winner.

BUILDING TRUST

The success of one leader depends on his/her trustworthiness. The team should know that they can count on their leader and their colleagues too. That’s why a lot of management training ideas revolve around building trust between team members.

Minefield

Could you trust your coworker to guide you through “office minefield”? Through this activity, you’ll find out! One person is blindfolded and the other has to lead him/her through several obstacles (office furniture will do just fine).

Help the blindfolded person by using navigation (left, right, forwards, etc) and warnings (slower, stop). You can, of course, limit the number of words used, so it becomes more challenging. As communication is crucial, so is trust. You need to rely on your partner in order to cross the minefield without incident.

Untangle

Untangle or “The Human Know” is an activity also based on communication and trust. Team members should stand in a circle, close their eyes, and put their hands together (not only with the person standing next to you).

After opening their eyes, people in the group need to get back into the circle without letting go. If the chain is broken, start over until you succeed.  This isn’t only a problem-solving activity because people need to work together to achieve a common goal, so proper communication becomes crucial.

Stand up

One more leadership development training activity that builds trust is this simple game. Two people sit on the floor facing one another. They should hold hands while the soles of their feet are laced together. The task is to stand up at the same time. This seems pretty easy, but when you try it a few times, you’ll notice that only the people who collaborate can achieve this task.

30 Seconds left

This is somewhat a contemplation and not an ordinary thought experiment. Give your team members time to think about the best moment of their lives. Everyone needs to narrow their experience to the “best 30 seconds” and share it with the group.

You could change this a bit by asking “What would you do if you have only 30 seconds left in this life?” This team-building activity enables your employees to understand each other better. Not only they’ll bond but choosing the most important bits of your life will enhance their creative thinking skills.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do you conduct a leadership workshop?

First, you need to choose a location and pick the participants. Prepare some activities and set the date. At the start of the workshop, you could give a Powerpoint presentation on the importance of team-building and leadership development activities. After that, engage in activities you planned out. Make sure to give the participants a chance for active feedback on these activities.

What is a good leader?

A good leader helps people achieve their potential and reach the set goals. He/she has integrity, humility, honesty, and the ability to see the bigger picture.

How can you be an effective leader?

Start with taking responsibility for the outcome of the projects. Communicate with your employees, listen to their desires, and encourage them to finish their part of the tasks. Make sure to keep enthusiasm and a positive attitude.

CONCLUSION

Once you realize the importance of team building and leadership development activities for managers, you’ll start doing them regularly. Not only will you improve productivity at work, but people will start to enjoy being in the office more. When people get to know each other better, they feel happier at work. Think about these fun things to do with coworkers outside of work, so you can create long-lasting bonds.

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