Leadership workshop games can be beneficial for many reasons, but the two biggest ones are that they allow leaders to practice different management techniques to use in different situations, and they also allow upper management to test the leadership skills of existing or prospective managers. Whether you want to use games to test leadership skills, or you want to improve the skills of an existing manager, these games should be fun, engaging and thought provoking in order to get the most from your employees.
Role Model Role Playing
Give everyone a pen and an index card before asking them to think of a famous leader (modern and historical role models are both fine) whom they admire. Ask everyone to write down the name of the leader and then tell them to try to channel that role model. Once they are in the mindset of the person they admire, instruct them to write down a piece of advice about leadership that their chosen role model might give. Once everyone has written down a piece of advice, have them all turn in the cards and then shuffle them and redistribute them at random, making sure no one has his own card.
Ask each person to read the card he is holding and think about how this piece of advice could help him become a better leader. Next, have someone in the group read out loud the piece of advice on the card he is holding. Give everyone in the group a chance to see if they can guess the leader before announcing who it is and pointing out that many leaders have similar ideas and advice. Ask anyone who has a similar piece of advice on his card to read it out loud and identify who his leader was and then, as a group, discuss why the advice sounds similar.
After all the similar pieces of advice have been read, ask if anyone has conflicting advice and then try to reconcile the differences between the two leaders' pieces of advice. Once all related pieces of advice have been read, choose another participant who has not yet read his note card to read his and start the discussion over again. Repeat until everyone has read the piece of advice on his note card.
Minefield Leadership Exercises for Teams
Break your group into teams of two and then ask each group to choose a leader. Have the leader blindfold her teammate. Now, have the group lay down a "minefield" around them with traffic cones, pieces of paper, sticks or anything else you have on hand that will not present a danger if someone steps on it. The leader will then have to guide her teammate out of the minefield by only using the words "left," "right," "forward" and "back." If the teammate hits a mine, they lose, and the game is over for them.
Once the team loses or escapes the minefield, ask them to switch places and have the leader from the first try be blindfolded and have the other teammate be the leader. Let every team in your group go through this process until everyone has gone through the minefield, and everyone has been the leader. Of the many leadership exercises for teams, this one is great because it allows you to see how effective someone is at leading, see how she does under pressure and see if she gets frustrated when someone doesn't follow her directions as quickly as she would like.
Prioritizing of Values
This game challenges people to think fast, prioritize, trust their gut and really think about what they value most, all of which are important things for leaders to be able to do. Hand your employees a stack of Post-It Notes, instructing each one to take 10 notes. Then, tell the group to write down the 10 most important values that they personally hold dear, for example, "honesty," "integrity," "family," "friendship," etc.
Once everyone has written down the top 10 values, have the employees spread out the Post-Its in front of them so they are easily seen and then tell them that they have 30 seconds to pick out the three values that are the least important to them and throw them away. Then, give them 20 seconds to throw away two more, followed by another 20 seconds to discard two more.
Everyone should now have three Post-Its with the three values that are most important listed. Then, break the group into teams of five and ask them to discuss why these values are so important to them, how they each demonstrate their three top values in their daily lives and what they would like to do to further live up to these values.
The Desert Island Game
Everyone is familiar with the basic premise of the "desert island game" where you choose the top five things you'd want to have with you if you were stuck on a desert island. However, while the game normally asks about frivolous things like books, movies or albums, when you play it along with other leadership training activities for employees, you'll want to focus on what the team needs to survive.
Break your group into teams and then tell them they all need to choose five items that they would need to survive and that everyone in the group needs to agree. You can set ground rules to make the game a little harder too. For example, every item has to be small enough to fit in a small duffel bag, and the imaginary island is located in a place where no satellites or cell phone signals could reach it. Once each team has decided on their items, have them share their top-five list and why they chose those items.
The great thing about this activity is that it can show you both leaders, who will try to keep everyone on track when they lose focus and try to help eliminate conflicts between team members, and innovators, who might suggest useful items no one else would have considered but could actually help the group a lot.
Round Table Challenges
Set up four tables with different building tasks, like LEGO bricks with an instruction guide to build a specific tower or a tangram puzzle with instructions to assemble a chicken shape. The specific tasks don't matter as long as each table's tasks are around the same level of difficulty, and there is an instruction manual that describes how to finish the task and shows what the end result should look like.
Then, have each team choose a leader. Let them know that the leader cannot touch the building tools or tell the others what they are building. As for the team, they cannot read the guide or see what it is supposed to look like at the end. The leader of each team must guide her team to finish the building project only by delegating tasks and communicating with the team.
Record how long each team takes at each table, and the team with the shortest overall time is the winner.