Transformational Leadership Training Exercises

by Eryn Travis ; Updated September 26, 2017
These exercises can help individuals develop transformational leadership skills.

Leadership scholar and author, James MacGregor Burns, is credited with the concept of transformational leadership, which is a method of influence based on a compilation of skills that results in both leader and followers learning, growing and bringing about change together. Shared vision, relationship, trust, character and inspiration are at the root of transformational leadership. Its opposites include commands, motivation or orders based only on positive or negative external rewards. Since no one leadership style works for all situations, learning about the style's weaknesses is just as important as learning its strengths.

Word Scramble and Checklist

The Career Professionals of Canada offers a word scramble game and a checklist exercise to learn more about the leadership style and its components. The point of the game is to find 24 adjectives that describe transformational leaders such as authentic, ethical, human and respectful. The inventory exercise requires participants to rate their specific transformational leadership skills, and then develop a plan to build or explore any areas needing attention. The checklist has four categories and includes items such as, "questions, listens and understands without judgment," and "establishes outcomes and success milestones."

Role Playing

A role playing exercise, developed by writer and consultant Tom Siebold, can help participants realize the strengths and limitations of transformational leadership. First, pick four volunteers from a larger group. The first volunteer plays the role of an employee who is constantly late for meetings. The next three volunteers play different types of leaders such as autocratic, laissez-faire or transformational. Each volunteer addresses the same situation using the characteristics of her leadership style. After role playing, the larger group should discuss how each style impacted the situation and the strengths and limitations of transformational leadership.

Transformational Leadership "Speed Dating"

While the concepts of transformational leadership are straightforward, implementing them in day-to-day activities can be a little harder to understand. A dance card or speed dating exercise can help participants learn more from other group members about how they have handled situations using transformational leadership skills. For example, each group member is assigned a dance card and is given three or four other group members to meet with during a set amount of time. Interview questions should center on concepts related to transformational leadership such as, "how do you motivate your employees," or "how do you set goals and recognize success." Setting limits on interview times and establishing a schedule of conversations allows group members to share as much information as possible while getting various viewpoints from group members.

About the Author

Eryn Travis has over 15 years of freelance-writing experience. She has written for "Aviation News Today" and was the managing producer and host for the cable TV news show of the same name. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Maryland and is finishing up a master's degree in communication studies from West Chester University.

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