Success in business often hinges on the leader-follower dynamic. Businesses may flourish or flop based on leaders' ability to take charge and convey what needs to be done, and followers' level of respect for leaders and ability to carry out duties. Leader and follower activities help employees improve skills, as well as strengthen their respect and understanding for both leader and follower roles.
Prior to having employees work in pairs or groups, let them tackle an individual activity to get a sense of leader-follower roles. Have employees research a present-day or historical leader. Arrange a day where employees dress as their chosen leaders and take their place in a room serving as a "wax museum." Employees take a spot and stand posed. Open the museum to employees' family and friends, as well as to other employees or customers, depending on the type of business. Inform visitors to tap the "statues" on the shoulder. Upon being tapped, employees speak about the leader they are representing.
Group activities let one employee lead and other employees take direction. In a large space, engage employees in a classic game of Follow the Leader. Choose one employee to act as the leader and have all other employees form a line. The leader takes his place at the head of the line and performs actions of his choice. Followers must mimic the leader's actions; if they do not, they exit the game. The follower left standing becomes the new leader.
For another activity, pick one employee to act as Simon and another to act as an alternate leader in Simon Says. In the middle of the game, the alternate leader takes his place besides Simon and performs actions different to what Simon says. At this point, instruct players to follow either Simon or the leader, who perform their movements simultaneously. Players who fail to mimic the designated leader's movements exit the game.
Employees give and follow directions in one-on-one situations in partner activities. Have employees draw a picture including a geometric shape. Employees then pair up, but do not show their drawings to their partner. Each pair has a poster board or sketch pad, and the members of each pair take turns being speaker and drawer. The speaker describes her picture to her partner, who then draws what he hears. If necessary, the drawer asks questions to clarify details. The pair compares their drawings to see how closely they match and then switch roles. Alternately, have the pairs sit back-to-back and make designs using a dozen pretzel sticks. In this variation, the receiver cannot ask questions for clarification. After all pairs have a turn in either exercise, have employees discuss ways they can improve their skills in giving directions and listening.
Small-group activities may give employees a better understanding of leader-follower relationships. Divide employees into four groups and discuss the following reasons that people follow leaders: agreement with ideas, blind hope that ideas work, faith in the leader, and fear of punishment or losing one's job. Assign each group one of those reasons and have groups create 30-second dialogues representing that point of view. Groups present the dialogue to listeners, who try to identify the reason portrayed.