Simple Leadership Games

by Manny Frishberg; Updated September 26, 2017
Training games help people learn to overcome their limitations.

Playing leadership games during training sessions can be an effective way to teach useful leadership skills that stick. Instructors say such activities can improve listening, cooperation, planning and problem solving skills. You get to feel the impact of your actions in a safe environment, which is far more convincing than just being told something will work in the office.


Leadership games are largely about trust and team-building

Divide your group into teams of two. One person will be blindfolded and the other will be his “guide.” The blindfolded team members are first taken into a second room and told their guides will bring them back and lead them by the hand to two objects. The job of the guide is to help her teammate find and identify two objects. The guide can only communicate through the sense of touch. Among the lessons from this game is that a leader needs to communicate her trustworthiness to the person following her if she expects to be followed willingly.

Owls and Wolves

Blindfolded group members are divided into two teams--owls and wolves--by the facilitator, who whispers the identity of each player into his ear. The teams must assemble themselves using only “hoots” or “howls” to find one another and come together in one area of the room. Each player locates her teammates and gathers with them until the entire team is assembled.

Rope Geometry

Each team is given a length of knotted rope and a shape to form it into. The object is for them to form a perfect square, triangle or pentagon while everyone is blindfolded. After each round, cut the number of teams down and add members to the remaining teams. You’ll find the larger the team, the harder it is to get the shape to come out right.

Crossing the Swamp

Teams of six or more people have to make their way across a “swamp” (marked off with chalk or masking tape). Teams go one at a time. For a 24-foot-wide swamp, give them two 8-foot planks, four milk crates and 20 feet of rope. The swamp should always be at least three times the length of one of the planks. Teams can use the equipment however they choose, but no one can “get wet.”

About the Author

Manny Frishberg made his home on the West Coast for more than 30 years. He studied writing and journalism at Portland State University. His articles have appeared in Wired, "Discover," the "Puget Sound Business Journal" and dozens of other websites and magazines and has earned four writing awards from the Society for Professional Journalism.

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