As you know by now, this month we’ve been writing blog posts on the theme of leadership. Our central theme has been that leadership skills can and should be shared among all team members. Everyone on your team has the ability to become leaders, and having a leadership culture that is diffuse and inclusive will allow individual team members to feel more motivated and grow their potential, while making your team more resilient and unified.
In our last blog post on how to promote Self-Leadership on teams, we said that one of the best ways of spreading leadership skills on teams is through team building. Team building tests teams in different ways, which lets different leadership styles shine through. Team building challenges also create closer relationships between members, thus strengthening interpersonal leadership skills.
As a continuation of that point, in this blog post we’ll be looking at a number of great leadership team building exercises that can strengthen and promote leadership across your team. These activities were specifically chosen because of their focus on leadership. But they were also chosen because they offer a chance for the whole team to get involved–either through discussing leadership values as a team or letting each team member take on the role of leader.
1. Online Team Building games (Tabitantei, Secret Agent: The First Mission)
Online team building games like the ones at Invite Japan are an excellent choice for a leadership team building activity because they can be played from anywhere. These games test teams in various skills through a number of challenges, all within a completely online environment.
As teams go through the game, they will have to make decisions together and figure out how to move forward. Navigating these online experiences brings teams together and requires leadership in order to succeed.
2. Outdoor Scavenger Hunt
Outdoor scavenger hunts take teams on exciting adventures to solve puzzles in specific areas of cities. The puzzles and challenges use elements found on buildings, facades, and monuments that test teams in different ways.
So, outdoor scavenger hunts are another great leadership team building activity. Team members have to work together, and the puzzles require different team members to take charge and lead the team to success.
At Invite Japan, workshops are supplemental activities and lectures that are designed around a specific theme related to team building (such as Psychological Safety and Team Roles, both of which are highly related to team leadership). As we mentioned before, learning together is a productive way of nurturing leadership across your team. As they learn together, new leaders will be inspired, and the interpersonal bonds that learning creates will facilitate greater unity, trust, and team motivation.
4. Suitcase Mystery (indoor dispatch game)
The Suitcase Mystery is one of our premier leadership team building games at Invite Japan. The game is like an escape game in a box. It consists of a number of consecutive puzzles and challenges that teams need to work through in order to complete the game in 60 minutes.
Because these puzzles test different skills, and the situations are so novel and out-of-this-world, team members have to work together, share information, and make split-second decisions. This game is very popular, especially for new employee training sessions, in large part because it has the power to reveal team members’ leadership skills and talents.
5. Yes Let’s!
“Yes Let’s” is a great leadership team building activity that is simple to do and doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare. In this game, team members take turns being the “leader”. The leader offers an activity for the rest of the team “to do”. It can be anything, and the weirder or more fantastical the activity the better (i.e. “Let’s go to the moon”, “Let’s play with tigers”, “Let’s be superheros,” etc.).
The other team members either say “Yes let’s!” and pretend to act out the activity. Or they can refuse and collapse dramatically onto the floor. Play for as long as there are still team members still willing to go along with the activities.
6. Leaders You Admire
“Leaders You Admire” is also a relatively simple leadership team building activity. In this activity, team members sit in groups of three or four. Individually, team members think of a leader that they admire or who inspires them (it can be someone they know personally or a historical figure/celebrity). Have them list all the reasons why they admire them as leaders. Then have team members share their leader and their lists with the rest of the group.
This activity gets team members to think about leadership in a concrete way, using actual leaders as springboards for the conversation. You can also take the activity one step further by having each group create their “ideal leader” by combining their lists together. Have them draw what that leader would look like, how they would act in certain situations, and what their values would be.
7. Leadership Styles
“Leadership Styles” is another leadership team building activity that gets teams to talk and discuss what it means to be a leader. The basis for this discussion are the four leadership styles of the situational leadership model:
Break your team into groups of 3-5. Give each group a piece of paper and have them divide it into four. Write one leadership style in each quadrant and then have groups brainstorm and write down the situations where each style is appropriate.
When the groups have finished, have a discussion with the whole team. See which situations are common between different groups, or where there may be differences in how groups approached each style.
8. Evaluate Your Yesterday
This easy leadership team building activity gets team members talking and sharing ideas about their daily schedules and how they fit into longer term plans and goals. Remember, goal-setting is a big part of leadership, and so activities that encourage goal-setting and thinking more consciously about goals are very beneficial.
Individually, have team members divide a piece of paper in two lengthwise. On one side of the page, have them write down what they did yesterday. On the other side, have them assess whether that task fits in with their long-term goals. Then have team members talk about what they wrote down in small groups.
This might be hard for some team members to share, but it is good for figuring out what goals are being implemented, both individually and throughout the team. It could also lead to productive conversations about daily work schedules and which tasks are actually important (time management being another crucial aspect of leadership).
9. One Year From Now
“One Year From Now” is another goal-setting leadership team building activity that asks team members to think about the future and break up large goals into smaller steps. The activity is also rather simple. On a piece of paper, ask team members to write down where they want to be a year from now–what kind of life, what kind of job, what kind of responsibilities, what kind of lifestyle.
Then ask them to work backwards from there. What do they imagine doing 6 months from now that will help them achieve that image? How about 3 months from now? One month? One week? One day from now? Once they’re done, have team members talk and share in small groups.
10. Improv scenario acting
Improv acting is a fun way to try various leadership skills in a low-stakes environment. First,have your team members write down a bunch of situations at work that require leadership (hiring, starting a new project, leading a meeting, etc.) on slips of paper. The situations can be as detailed as you want them to be. Collect all the situations together and mix them up.
Next, have pairs come up to the front of the room in groups of three or four. Give each group a slip of paper and have them “act out” the situation in front of the rest of the team. You can have team members who are watching give pause performances to give advice or offer suggestions. Also make sure to discuss the performances so team members have a chance to reflect and learn together.