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20 Leadership Activities for Middle School Students
June 21, 2022 // by Molly Miller
Teachers try to encourage positive characteristics and help our middle school students become leaders and not bosses. Below are plenty of activities and leadership games to help to refine the leadership skills and leadership behaviors of your students.
1. Tower Challenge
This fun activity encourages students to work cooperatively and communicate effectively. Set a 5-minute time limit and split students into teams to create the tallest tower possible. No sets of blocks are necessary. Split students into groups and give them 50 spaghetti noodles and 25 marshmallows. This is an adaptation to the Marshmallow Challenge.
Learn more: The Learning Counsel
2. Trait Envelopes
Split students into teams to break down the list of leadership qualities and then come up with a list of real-life applications. After the teams have discussed, the whole class discusses in order for all students to make connections between academics and life tasks. This simple activity can turn any class into a leadership class.
Learn more: Session Lab
3. Cup Stack
This is a fun activity wherein the teacher splits students into teams that must work together to build a stack of party cups. In order to correctly stack the cups, the students must communicate and work together to stack the cups holding only the strings that are tied to the band.
Learn more: Ms. Sepp's Counselor Corner
4. Boss vs. Leader Sort
This quick activity leads to valuable discussions and can be left up all year long. Leadership skills are important for students to recognize. Give each student a trait on a small sheet of paper. Then discuss each one and decide if it’s something a boss or leader does. Students will stick their slips under the correct heading. As a class, discuss each element. This is a great precursor to the student council discussion which requires a list of leadership qualities.
Learn more: 3rd Grade Thoughts
5. Twizzler Tie Up
This fun activity requires students to work together. Split students into teams of 2. Students have 10 Twizzlers. Set a time limit and have the students tie each of the 10 together using only one hand. What worked and what didn’t? Active listening and communication are valuable skills.
Learn more: Pinterest
6. Classroom Teams
These are similar to classroom jobs, however, the twist put on these for upper grades is that the requirements shift as do the positions. Students learn the behavior of leaders and valuable skills like delegating, supporting, and job completion.
Learn more: The Teacher Oasis
7. Lego Replicating Structure
Students are split into groups. The captain directs the build of the Lego structure. The captain may not show the team the picture or touch the structure in any way. The team that has the most complete structure wins. This fun activity is a great team bonding task that requires active listening. Have students discuss what worked and why.
Learn more: Leadership Ahoy
8. Group Directed Drawing
This activity helps students develop their communication skills while also working collaboratively. Split students into teams and give them pieces of paper. One partner will draw a simple image on the blank piece of paper and then give directions to their partner. Then at the end, the partners will compare their results.
Learn more: 20 Directed Drawing Activities That Will Make Every Kid An Artist!
An easy obstacle course that doubles as a fun game that can be done within your classroom or outside. Another highlight of this is that it will highlight an autocratic leader who needs help. One of the partners wears a blindfold and the other must guide the blindfolded student through the obstacle course while giving them clear and specific directions. Discuss what worked, what didn’t, and how they could improve.
Learn more: TOOBEEZ
10. Peer Counselor
This is a well-known strategy that promotes communication skills that is similar to student council. Ultimately, the responsibility for this type of activity would fall on a school counselor, but it’s never too early to start. Students volunteer to be peer counselors and learn valuable leadership skills, including empathy. Proper training and careful rules will help prevent a problematic scenario.
Learn more: Brookes Blog
11. Volunteer Crew
This is an excellent extracurricular activity to begin at any time you have willing participants. This group of kind-hearted students would endeavor to volunteer their time to whatever needs your committee may have. Successful leaders know the value of this type of leadership workshop.
Learn more: Saint John the Evangelist Catholic School
12. News Crews
While announcements may be seen to take time away from instruction, they are vital for fostering the school community. Students who are part of or even run the announcements, take more ownership over the messages being shared. Thought-provoking questions can be shared school-wide. Like those on the student council, this becomes another leadership class for middle school students.
Learn more: KQED
School newspapers are falling to the wayside. Middle school students love their cell phones. Schools and students can make the most of this by offering student-led podcasts that serve as leadership classes to everyone. Additionally, issues that would be in the school-sponsored newspaper can be addressed, like lessons for teens specifically.
Learn more: NPR
14. Safety Patrols
Goodbye hallway monitors. Safety patrols now consist of the kids working towards being admirable leaders. This leadership exercise can help reduce hallway misbehavior and bullying and even help the lost new student find their way. Safety Patrol students are looked to as models for expectations and are put in situational leadership roles.
Learn more: SW News Media
15. Student Council
This leadership program is a partnership that helps students become successful leaders as they are actively involved with their school community. With clear and specific criteria for their student leaders, the student council can offer a multitude of leadership situations. The student leadership can also advise faculty of their concerns.
Learn more: Severn School
16. Student Conferences
Students are in the driving seat with this type of conference. Middle school students are often quiet about school. In this time-limited activity, split students into teams of 3-4 students for a set time. They walk their parent through their work, their successes, and of course their current needs and opportunities for growth. The teacher takes a back seat and lets the student run the meeting. This type of meeting helps the student become an influential leaders in a safe setting where they are able to explore their leadership philosophy.
Learn more: Edu Topia
In this simple activity, blindfolds for students are worn and they have to organize themselves in height, tallest to shortest. Discussion is key. The teacher can serve as the judge. The first group to scare them away by saying, “boo” and being correct, wins.
Learn more: Mom Junction
18. Puzzle Conundrum
Split students into teams and each team is divided into sub-teams. The sub-teams are given the pieces to a part of the puzzle. Each sub-team must assemble their portion before the team can put the entire puzzle together. This team-building game further develops communication.
19. Rope Loops
Each member of the team begins with a looped rope around their ankles. Then slowly, without the use of their hands, the team must all get the rope to their shoulders. The building blocks of an influential leader are communication, critical thinking, and cooperation.
20. Hula Pass
This is a great outdoor activity to get your whole class to work together and communicate. They join hands and the person on the end is given a hula hoop which must be passed all the way down the class. They cannot let go of their hands or grab the hula hoop. This allows for the varied leadership styles within a class to shine. This is also a great activity for adults.
Learn more: Guide, Inc.
The Best Way To Find Unique and Great Gifts For Those you Love and Care About
12 Leadership Activities for Middle School Students
WhatToGetMy Instructional Article
Leadership activities for middle school students should be added into the classroom to teach the kids valuable skills such as communication, collaboration, decision-making, problem-solving, critical thinking, and many others. It’s never too early to teach children about leadership because a lot of activities can be adapted to fit any age group. The sooner they develop valuable skills, the better they’ll perform in the future.
Teachers and educators can incorporate plenty of activities throughout the school year that can be useful for development. Even the simplest of games can challenge children and help them improve their skills. We’re going to give you some examples of activities you can add to the classroom, so be sure to keep scrolling.
Before we get further down the article, we’d like to mention two things:
- These games are all about stealth learning. Kids will be excited, engaged and they’ll learn new things while playing and having fun.
- Most games are better when playing in large groups because they build trust between kids while boosting their confidence and improving communication.
Source Link: https://whattogetmy.com/leadership-activities-for-middle-school-students/
What are the middle school leadership activities ?
Table of Contents
A variety of activities can teach leadership skills to students. These activities are designed to help children develop skills necessary for good leaders. In today’s world, it’s crucial to work on improving critical and creative thinking, strengthening communication and collaboration skills, learning how to inspire others, etc.
A lot of extracurricular activities revolve around the development of leadership skills such as debate class, student council, sports games, school theater, etc. However, you can also add simple team-building activities during regular classes. They don’t take much time and provide valuable lessons. Encourage your students to be active and engage in activities helpful for their personal growth. When they become enthusiastic about learning, everything else in life becomes easier.
Leadership game ideas are various, from team-building games to group discussions. These activities are for everyone. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a kid or an adult because life is a journey and every day we learn something new. Adults, of course, make activities more challenging. Below we’ll give you some activities you can incorporate into your leadership lesson plans for middle school students.
Having role models
It’s very important for students to have someone they can look up to. It doesn’t matter if that’s a parent, a teacher, or a public figure. You should utilize role models to teach kids about values. Talk about admirable leaders and what are leadership qualities. Speaking about leadership, you should help children differentiate between positive and negative qualities too.
People you admire
Start by forming groups that have a task of discussing admirable people. After some time, each group should pick only one person and explain the reasons behind the choice. Reflect on the positive leadership traits that this person has. You can also comment on negative behaviors that should be avoided.
A lot of children have someone they idolize, so it’s a good idea to talk about those people. Whether kids look up to celebrities or family members, you can discuss the qualities people possess. After this activity, try having a brainstorming session about good and bad leadership traits.
Pick your quote
Before you engage in this activity find inspiring quotes about leadership and write it on the paper. Try to reflect on different approaches to leadership. When kids come, place the quotes across the classroom.
Tell children to read the quotes and stand by the one that fits their views. When everyone selects a quote, ask each kid to explain his/her choice to the class. While they’re talking, write some key ideas on the board. Make sure to leave enough time for discussion about different types of leaders afterward.
Guess the leadership qualities
This activity starts with your students making a list of leadership qualities. Choose one kid that will write on the board while others give their ideas. Middle schoolers will probably mention qualities such as empathy, strength, decision-making, etc. While they’re writing ideas on the board, you should choose the qualities essential for improving leadership skills for middle school students . Write them on small pieces of paper and put them in a bowl.
The next stage is forming teams of 3-4 students. Each team gets one of the qualities from the bowl. Challenge them to create and act out the scenario where that quality is displayed. When one group is acting, others should try to guess the displayed characteristic.
Students shouldn’t have a problem with guessing the quality because every option is displayed on the board. Demonstrating one situation can, of course, include other leadership qualities. Note each one within the same acted scenario, so you can have a small discussion after each group’s skit.
The strength of every good leader comes from collaboration and empathy. Team building activities for middle school students should be a part of kids’ education. Knowing how to work in teams and communicate with others is crucial for kids’ development. Children team building games join a class together and make a community. Students get to know each other and build trust.
The goal of the game is to cross the wire without touching it, hence the name electric fence. Have students form a chain on one side of the wire by holding hands. Students need to get the entire team from one side to another, so they need to cooperate and help each other. To see how this looks like, check out the video below.
Similarly to the previous activity, the goal of the game is to work together towards a common goal. In this case, the goal is to pass the hula-hoop as fast as possible without breaking the chain. Students will form a circle holding hands, you’ll give them a hula-hoop and the game can begin. We’re sure your student will have a blast like the ones in the next video.
Leading the blindfolded
This activity is a race between teams. Before the game begins, set a starting and finish line. Divide the students into small groups and ask them to pick a leader of each group. All players except the leader should be blindfolded and the game can begin.
This middle school team building game also revolves around building trust. You need to be confident in your “leader” and let him/her guide you to the finish line while you’re blindfolded. For a bigger challenge, instructs the students leading to use only a couple words such as left, right, straight, etc. Make sure that every student has the chance to be a leader of the group at least two times.
Form a shape
This game teaches how to communicate effectively as a leader and help the team to form different shapes using a rope. Students will grab a piece of the rope with both hands and you’ll instruct them to make a shape such as a star, diamond, etc. The group is blindfolded but they can speak during exercise, so communication becomes crucial. You should appoint one person that can take off the blindfold occasionally to check the progress. See how it can look like in the video below.
Birthday line up
If you only have 10 minutes for an engaging activity, try this simple thing. Instruct kids to line up in the order of their birthdays. Kids have to know the order of the months and compare their birthdays with each other. It can take 5-10 minutes for them to figure out the right order. You can make this activity extra challenging by telling them to only use hand signals.
A good leader needs to be creative and “think outside of the box”. That’s why it’s crucial to nurture kids’ imagination and incorporate creative activities in your youth leadership lesson plans . Encourage kids to find creative solutions to the tasks in front of them by organizing these simple activities.
In this cooperation activity for middle school students , kids compete in making the tallest (or largest, most creative, etc) structure that can hold the weight of the marshmallow on top. Divide students into groups and give them the materials for the tower. The materials are dry spaghetti, toothpicks, duck tape, and a string. Students will need to work together to create a balanced and solid tower, so this activity improves leadership dynamics, communication, and problem-solving skills.
Challenge your students to solve problems using set objects such as cans, books, pencils, chairs, etc. Present them with a scenario and let them figure out the solution. It can be anything, from survival scenarios to solving mysteries. Just make sure the scenarios are age-appropriate and not so easily solvable.
You can, of course, split the students into small groups, so they can discuss strategies with each other. That way they can work on communication skills while they’re engaging in critical and creative thinking. Praise creative and innovative solutions, reliability on classmates, and other positive traits. If students don’t agree on what items to use, suggest they make a small pros/cons list and “rank” the items. You could also set a timer for the activity if you want to put extra pressure and encourage competition.
This classic game can be used to teach kids about leadership. You’ll hide the treasure and give clues, while kids work together in solving them. Riddles and puzzles are not only fun, but they improve problem-solving, encourage creativity, and develop leadership traits. The “treasure” should be something that can encourage children to give their best. Something like ice-cream or a no-homework pass can motivate any kid!
This is a thought experiment in which you’ll pose a problematic scenario and encourage your kids to speak about what they would do in a certain situation. You can divide the students into small groups and give each group a card with an explained situation. After 10 minutes of discussion, the group’s representatives will read the scenario and their plan of action.
Set the age-appropriate difficulty of hypothetical situations. It’s about students working together to come up with creative approaches, not about debating difficult ethical dilemmas. Something simple like “What would you do if you get a grade you didn’t deserve” can spark interesting discussions.
Frequently asked questions
What are some examples of leadership activities?
A lot of activities encourage leadership such as playing sports, volunteering, engaging in student councils, etc.
What is leadership in middle school?
Effective schools give all students equal opportunities to lead. Every student has the potential to be a leader, and it’s up to the teacher to encourage leadership.
What does it take to be a true leader?
Leaders need to be creative, curious, and have an open mind . They should be emphatic, trustworthy, and have good communication skills. Positive attitude and will for self-growth are also necessary.
What makes a good leader lesson plan?
If you want to dedicate an entire class for leadership, start with identifying leadership traits and having a group discussion. Later you can engage in the activities we suggested in this article and finish with a quick survey to see what students think.
You probably can’t wait to try these leadership activities for middle school students with your class. We’ll give you one piece of advice, bring an enthusiastic spirit in the classroom and you’ll surely have fun with your students.
Also, did you talk with your class about their preparation for school? Establishing a healthy morning routine is crucial for having a successful day, so check out these things to do in the morning before school.
01 HOUR 28 MINUTES
ESTIMATED TIME DESIGNING AND UPLOADING THIS ARTICLE
07 HOURS 20 MINUTES
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My favorite part of teaching Leadership class is also the most underrated: having the chance to strengthen life skills!
When else do active listening, empathy, or thinking outside the box get to be the focus of class time? I love it! These are the types of things we hope students pick up somehow but rarely have opportunity to teach explicitly.
Leadership skills, especially at the middle or high school level, encompass many life skills—communication, compassion, teamwork, creativity, and social-emotional intelligence. It goes way beyond just leading people.
The best part is being able to plot precisely in the year a particular skill is best to focus on so they carry more meaning. Like practicing speaking skills right before an assembly. Or doing a gratitude lesson during November.
If this is your first time teaching Leadership, you aren’t able to fully predict which skills need work and when. So, give yourself grace and take lots of notes during your first year. Then, before the following school year, use them to plan out your calendar.
Below are 5 of my favorite activities to teach essential leadership skills. These come from my year-long leadership skills activity bundle , which includes 30 one-hour print-and-teach lessons.
1. Build Team Work by Hosting a Scavenger Hunt Swap
This activity is perfect for right at the start of the year!
Divide your students into groups of 3-4, giving each a shopping bag and a blank sheet of paper, and head outside. Be sure to review the defined boundaries for this activity (ex. “ on campus, except parking lot ”).
Give groups a few minutes to brainstorm ten items that are
- findable and accessible on campus
- nobody’s personal property
- fit inside the provided bags
Some examples could be a rock from the courtyard, a napkin from the cafeteria, a sticky note from the attendance office counter.
Gather up the lists, then randomly pass them back out to groups. With all members sticking together in their group, they must find the items on their list within a set amount of time.
Debrief by asking: “What was the most challenging part of moving together as a team?”
Click to get more fun teambuilding lessons .
2. Practicing Microphone Speaking Skills
Plan this one right before the first assembly.
Ahead of time, type up a bunch of questions that take just a few words or a sentence to answer. Just be sure the questions are ones every student can easily and comfortably answer. So, no sensitive or personal questions.
Cut them into slips for students to pull randomly.
Some examples of questions to ask:
- Would you ever go skydiving?
- What’s your favorite season and why?
- Is a hotdog a sandwich?
- What’s your favorite meal?
Head down to the auditorium or gym (wherever you hold assemblies!) and power up the microphone. Stand in a line or circle, pull a question, and have students, one by one, answer the questions in the microphone.
After several rounds, students should know how close to hold it and how loudly to speak and feel confident with their own voice.
Start with questions that require only one-word answers and work up to ones that require a sentence.
Debrief by asking: After several rounds, what trick seemed to work the best to speak loudly, clearly, and confidently?
Click here for more print-and-go speaking and listening lessons .
3. Strengthen Relationships among Students
This one is great to do a few weeks into the school year since it’s a more vulnerable team-building activity.
Grab a bunch of paper lunch bags and hand one to each student to decorate with well-known things that represent them—sports a part of, instruments played, clubs a member of, stuff like that.
Task students to bring something that fits inside the bag representing an aspect them that isn’t widely known. Like someone who likes to cook for their family bringing in a bottle of their favorite spice or a someone whose happy spot is the beach bringing in a seashell. Without showing anyone, students put their item into their bag.
Put the filled bags into a box and have students take one out. Have them examine the outside to see if they can guess the owner. Then, pull out the secret item and guess what it might represent. The owner can then share a bit about what the bag and item mean.
Debrief by asking: How can we create a group where we feel safe sharing our inner selves?
Click for more great lessons on building healthy relationships .
4. Practice Creative Thinking with Oops Art
Save this one for a less hectic time of year since it can be scheduled at any time. All you need are some basic art supplies like paint, scissors, glue, and construction paper.
Get a copy of the children’s book Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg and read it aloud with students or have them each read a page aloud, then pass it on to the next. Yes, even high schoolers get a kick out of storytime!
Saltzberg includes nine “oopses” in the book, like a tear or paint spill. Assign each student one to create.
Redistribute them back out, challenging students to now create a masterpiece out of the oops they got. Afterward, make a bulletin board display out of the artworks.
Debrief by asking: How can we remind ourselves to look for the beauty in or a new purpose for a “mistake”?
Click to get more creative and problem-solving lessons .
5. Encourage Goal Setting with a Bucket List
This works well at many points in the year—the start of the school year, the new year, or second semester. Or even right before summer break!
This activity shows students that leadership skills include personal leadership too!
Decide a number theme that works for when you’re doing this:
- 18 Things to Do in 180 Days
- 9 Challenges for the 90 Days of Summer
- 11 Things to Do by the End of 11 th Grade
Start by having students take a minute or two to close their eyes and envision how the perfect summer or school year would look. You may also want to make and share your own bucket list with students.
The trick to a successful bucket list is to have a range of activities. Accomplishments shouldn’t all be expensive, time-consuming, or outside of comfort zones. A few “reach” goals should be balanced with ones that are free, can be done solo or at any time, and don’t much of time.
Since lists should be personal, just ask for volunteers to share an item on their list to close the lesson.
Debrief by asking: What’s something you’re excited to do that you’d never thought of until this activity?
Click here for more ready-to-go mindfulness and personal growth lessons .
I hope these activity ideas help you incorporate more leadership skills into your classroom!
Get all these activities as ready-to-go leadership lessons in my Leadership Skills bundle , complete with teacher guides, warm-ups, handouts, and exit slips. With over 30 hour-long lessons to pick from, you will be set for the whole school year!
Feature image photo credit: Perry Grone
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20 Captivating Leadership Games for Middle School Students
Fostering leadership skills in middle school students is a pivotal step in preparing them for future challenges and responsibilities.
Engaging young minds through interactive and enjoyable activities not only makes learning fun but also instills essential qualities such as communication, teamwork, and decision-making.
Leadership games designed specifically for middle school students play a vital role in developing their leadership potential while promoting creativity and problem-solving abilities.
In this compilation, we present 20 captivating leadership games for middle school students. Whether it’s in the classroom, a youth group, or any other setting, these games will inspire young leaders to emerge, thrive, and make a positive impact on their peers and the world around them.
So, let’s dive into this assortment of activities that blend fun and learning to nurture the leaders of tomorrow.
Activity 1: “Mission Impossible”
In this thrilling leadership game, middle school students are divided into teams and assigned a series of challenging missions. Each mission is designed to test their communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills. The tasks may range from deciphering codes and solving puzzles to navigating obstacle courses blindfolded. To succeed, students must collaborate effectively, delegate responsibilities, and strategize together. This activity fosters leadership qualities as students take charge, assign roles based on individual strengths, and motivate their team to accomplish the missions. The competitive nature of “Mission Impossible” encourages students to embrace leadership roles, think critically under pressure, and build trust within their teams.
Activity 2: “Leadership Charades”
“Leadership Charades” is a fun and interactive game that enhances middle school students’ communication and decision-making skills. Students take turns acting out various leadership scenarios without using words while their peers try to guess the situation being portrayed. These scenarios can include resolving conflicts, guiding a team through a crisis, or motivating a group to achieve a common goal. This activity prompts students to think on their feet, communicate non-verbally, and make quick decisions—essential qualities for effective leadership. Through this game, students gain insight into different leadership approaches and styles, encouraging them to develop their own leadership identities.
Activity 3: “The Great Debate”
In this intellectually stimulating activity, students engage in a structured debate on various leadership-related topics. The class is divided into two teams, with each team taking turns arguing for or against a given proposition. Topics could include “Leaders are born, not made” or “Effective leaders prioritize empathy over authority.” By participating in “The Great Debate,” middle school students practice articulating their viewpoints, listening actively to opposing arguments, and constructing well-reasoned responses. They also learn to appreciate diverse perspectives and the value of respectful communication. This game not only nurtures leadership skills but also cultivates critical thinking and persuasive abilities. Related: 20 Exciting Blindfold Games for Kids
Activity 4: “Leadership Team Building Retreat”
The “Leadership Team Building Retreat” is an off-campus activity designed to strengthen the bond among middle school students and enhance their teamwork and leadership skills. During the retreat, students participate in a series of fun and challenging team-building exercises, such as trust falls, problem-solving games, and outdoor activities. The retreat provides a safe and supportive environment for students to build trust, communicate effectively, and collaborate to overcome obstacles. Through shared experiences and reflection sessions, students develop a deeper understanding of the importance of teamwork and its role in effective leadership.
Activity 5: “Leadership Panel Discussion”
In the “Leadership Panel Discussion,” middle school students organize and participate in a panel discussion with guest speakers from various leadership backgrounds. The panelists, who can be community leaders, teachers, or older students, share their personal leadership experiences, challenges, and advice. The students ask questions and engage in thoughtful conversations with the panelists. This activity fosters active listening, critical thinking, and the ability to learn from others’ experiences. The panel discussion provides students with valuable insights into diverse leadership paths and inspires them to take on leadership roles with confidence and purpose.
Activity 6: “Leadership Book Exchange”
The “Leadership Book Exchange” activity encourages middle school students to share their favorite leadership-related books with their peers. Each student selects a book they have found inspiring or informative about leadership and writes a brief review explaining why they recommend it. Students then exchange books with one another, allowing everyone to explore different perspectives on leadership. This activity promotes a love for reading, fosters a culture of sharing knowledge, and broadens students’ understanding of leadership through diverse literary works. Related: 20 Fun and Galore Pillow Games for Kids
Activity 7: “Leadership Myths and Legends”
“Leadership Myths and Legends” is an engaging activity where students explore mythical and legendary leaders from different cultures and historical periods. Through storytelling and research, students learn about figures like King Arthur, Mulan, or Joan of Arc and analyze the leadership qualities attributed to them. They discuss how these legendary leaders inspire and influence notions of leadership. This activity encourages cultural appreciation, critical analysis of storytelling, and an understanding of the timeless aspects of leadership found in myths and legends.
Activity 8: “Leadership Time Management Challenge”
In this time management challenge, middle school students must balance their academic, extracurricular, and personal responsibilities effectively. Students are given a simulated schedule that includes schoolwork, club meetings, sports practices, and personal time. They must organize their time wisely, prioritize tasks, and meet their commitments efficiently. This activity promotes time management skills, self-discipline, and the ability to handle multiple responsibilities—essential qualities for effective leaders in both school and future endeavors.
Activity 9: “Leadership Outdoor Adventure”
The “Leadership Outdoor Adventure” takes students on a thrilling outdoor excursion where they must navigate challenging terrains and work together to overcome obstacles. Activities such as hiking, rock climbing, or canoeing require students to demonstrate leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving skills in a dynamic environment. The adventure fosters resilience, adaptability, and effective communication as students learn to lead and support one another. This hands-on experience helps students develop confidence in their leadership abilities and provides valuable insights into the importance of teamwork in leadership.
Activity 10: “Leadership Debates and Mock Trials”
In this intellectually stimulating activity, middle school students participate in debates and mock trials centered around leadership-related topics and ethical dilemmas. Students are divided into teams, with each team representing different sides of a given issue. They engage in rigorous debates or mock trials, presenting evidence, and arguing their positions persuasively. This activity fosters critical thinking, public speaking, and the ability to construct well-reasoned arguments. By debating real-life leadership scenarios, students develop a deeper understanding of complex leadership challenges and the importance of ethics in decision-making.
Activity 11: “Leadership TED Talks”
In this activity, middle school students are encouraged to prepare and deliver their own “Leadership TED Talks.” Each student selects a leadership topic they are passionate about and researches, organizes and creates a compelling presentation. Students can use multimedia tools such as slideshows or videos to enhance their talks. This activity fosters public speaking skills, critical thinking, and the ability to convey ideas effectively. It also allows students to inspire their peers with their unique perspectives on leadership, making them more confident in expressing their ideas and taking on leadership roles.
Activity 12: “Leadership Mentorship Program”
In this activity, older students or community mentors are invited to become mentors for middle school students interested in developing their leadership skills. The mentors and mentees meet regularly to discuss leadership concepts, engage in team-building activities, and explore leadership-related challenges. The mentorship program provides a supportive environment for students to learn from experienced leaders, receive guidance, and set personal leadership goals. This activity not only helps students gain valuable insights but also builds a sense of community and support among participants.
Activity 13: “Leadership Innovation Challenge”
The “Leadership Innovation Challenge” encourages middle school students to think creatively and develop innovative solutions to real-world problems. Students form teams and are given a specific challenge related to a current issue. They then brainstorm and devise creative strategies to address the problem effectively. This activity promotes leadership qualities such as creativity, adaptability, and entrepreneurial thinking. Students learn to lead by example and take initiative in seeking solutions to complex problems, fostering a culture of innovation and positive change.
Activity 14: “Leadership Podcast Book Club”
In this activity, students combine the elements of podcasting and book clubs. They form small groups and select leadership-themed books or podcasts to listen to together. After reading or listening to each material, students come together for book club-style discussions, sharing insights, and analyzing the leadership concepts presented. This activity encourages active listening, critical analysis, and collaborative learning. By engaging with podcasts and books, students gain a deeper understanding of leadership and its diverse interpretations.
Activity 15: “Leadership Simulation Games”
Leadership simulation games involve interactive scenarios where middle school students take on roles in simulated situations. These scenarios could include leading a space expedition, managing a virtual business, or organizing a disaster response team. Students face various challenges and decisions that test their leadership skills, critical thinking, and adaptability. These games provide a risk-free environment for students to experiment with leadership strategies, learn from mistakes, and develop effective leadership techniques. The debriefing sessions after the simulations encourage students to analyze their choices and outcomes, enhancing their learning experience.
Activity 16: “Leadership Board Games”
“Leadership Board Games” bring an element of fun and strategy to the exploration of leadership principles. Middle school students play specially designed board games that incorporate leadership challenges and decision-making scenarios. These games may involve leading a team through a series of tasks, managing resources effectively, and navigating unexpected obstacles. By engaging in friendly competition, students develop critical thinking skills, teamwork, and strategic planning. “Leadership Board Games” provide an enjoyable way for students to apply leadership concepts in a playful setting while learning valuable lessons in leadership dynamics.
Activity 17: “Leadership TED Talk Challenge”
Inspired by TED Talks, the “Leadership TED Talk Challenge” invites middle school students to prepare and deliver short TED-style talks on leadership topics of their choice. Students practice public speaking skills and learn how to condense complex ideas into engaging and concise presentations. The talks can cover personal experiences, leadership lessons from history, or innovative ideas for positive change. This activity empowers students to express their ideas with confidence and become effective communicators, inspiring their peers with their leadership insights.
Activity 18: “Leadership in Sports”
In this activity, students explore leadership principles and teamwork through the lens of sports. They analyze the leadership styles of renowned sports figures and reflect on the leadership qualities needed to excel in team sports. Students also discuss the parallels between sportsmanship and leadership, emphasizing qualities such as discipline, resilience, and collaboration. This activity highlights how leadership in sports extends beyond the playing field and can have a positive impact on all aspects of life.
Activity 19: “Leadership Virtual Reality Experience”
The “Leadership Virtual Reality Experience” allows middle school students to step into simulated leadership scenarios using virtual reality technology. Students encounter challenging situations where they must make decisions, collaborate, and solve problems. The immersive nature of virtual reality enhances students’ engagement and empowers them to practice leadership skills in a risk-free environment. This activity promotes adaptability, decision-making, and confidence in leading under different circumstances.
Activity 20: “Leadership in Action Showcase”
The “Leadership in Action Showcase” provides middle school students with an opportunity to demonstrate their leadership skills and accomplishments to their peers, teachers, and parents. Students present projects, initiatives, or activities they have led, showcasing the impact of their leadership in various areas, such as community service, academic achievements, or sports teams. This activity boosts students’ confidence and public speaking abilities while celebrating their leadership efforts and recognizing the positive influence they have had on others.
- 23 Fun Preschool Learning Activities at Home
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Sohaib Hasan Shah
Sohaib's journey includes 10+ years of teaching and counseling experience at BCSS School in elementary and middle schools, coupled with a BBA (Hons) with a minor in Educational Psychology from Curtin University (Australia) . In his free time, he cherishes quality moments with his family, reveling in the joys and challenges of parenthood. His three daughters have not only enriched his personal life but also deepened his understanding of the importance of effective education and communication, spurring him to make a meaningful impact in the world of education.
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83 Leadership Activities, Building Games, and Exercises
Leadership activities are associated with benefits to business, including increased performance and productivity.
However, perhaps the sign of a truly successful leader is a happy, healthy workplace. Interested in what leadership activities can do for your workplace or school? Read on.
With the activities below, there may be some overlap with activities found under certain headings – for example, activities suitable for adults may also be useful for groups, or with employees.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Leadership Exercises for free . These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or others adopt positive leadership practices and help organizations thrive.
This Article Contains:
What are leadership activities, what are they used for, 8 examples of leadership activities, 4 leadership workshop ideas, 2 activities that showcase different leadership styles, 3 situational leadership activities and scenarios, 8 games and activities for kids to learn leadership skills, 6 leadership development activities for teens and youth (pdf), 3 classroom leadership activities for students in elementary and middle school, 6 leadership activities and games for high school students, 3 activities and exercises for college students (pdf), 7 leadership games and activities for adults, 5 leadership group and team activities, 8 leadership training activities for employees, 5 leadership building exercises for managers, 11 leadership exercises for team building in the workplace, a take-home message.
Increasingly, people are assuming positions of leadership in the workplace (Cserti, 2018). However, the journey to becoming a leader is lengthy (Cserti, 2018). Leadership activities are valuable on the journey to becoming an effective leader , and also develop confidence in leadership teams (Cserti, 2018; Stepshift, 2016).
Leadership activities may be conducted on or off site, and be physical or sedentary (Stepshift, 2016). Leadership activities can either be performed by a leader in their own team, or with an external facilitator (Cserti, 2018). They may take the form of specially organized themed events, such as scavenger hunts (Stepshift, 2016). Or, they may be smaller, office-based tasks built into an ordinary workday.
For example, leadership activities could consist of meeting openers or conference break activities (Stepshift, 2016).
Leadership activities can be an effective way for individuals to practice and strengthen their leadership and team-building skills (Cserti, 2018). They can also be fun!
The structure of leadership activities is essential. It is important that the participants can relate the activity to the workplace setting (Stepshift, 2016).
The working style, principles, and values of a leader is a crucial aspect in determining the behavior within an organization (Cserti, 2018). Leadership training can help leaders become role-models (Cserti, 2018). The behavior of leaders and what they consider the “norm” determines which behaviors are enforced and those which are punished (Cserti, 2018).
Given the importance of a leader’s behavior, it is also essential that they learn skills, such as:
Leaders need to develop the ability to clearly, succinctly explain to employees everything from the goals of a company to the details of specific work-tasks (Doyle, 2019). Many components are important for effective communication , including active listening, reading body language and written communication such as emails (Doyle, 2019).
Leaders need to inspire employees. They may do this by increasing worker’s self-esteem , by recognizing effort and achievement, or by giving a worker new responsibilities to further their investment in the business (Doyle, 2019).
Leaders can achieve this by identifying the skills that workers have, and as such assign tasks to each worker based on the skills they have (Doyle, 2019).
Being positive helps develop a happy , healthy work environment, even when the workplace is busy or stressful (Doyle, 2019).
By demonstrating integrity , workers will feel at ease to approach their leader with questions or concerns (Doyle, 2019). Building trust is one of the most essential leadership skills.
Good leaders are willing to try novel solutions or to approach problems in a non-traditional way (Doyle, 2019).
Leaders are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to provide team members with information about their performance, without ‘micromanaging’ their work (Doyle, 2019).
A good leader accepts mistakes or failures and instead look for solutions for improvement of a situation (Doyle, 2019). This skill also includes being reflective and being open to feedback (Doyle, 2019).
A leader should strive to follow through with everything that they agree to do (Doyle, 2019). It also involves applying appropriate feedback and keeping promises (Doyle, 2019).
Leaders need to be able to accept changes and creatively problem-solve, as well as being open to suggestions and feedback (Doyle, 2019).
While these skills are explained in a workplace context, they can easily be applied to other leadership situations such as sports or community groups.
Now that you have more clarity as to what leadership activities are, and what they are used for, let us look at a wide selection of activities. While some of the activities and games may not immediately appear to be ‘leadership activities,’ the chosen activities might develop and promote the leadership skills outlined above.
Here are eight such activities:
- Sports Sports provide the experience of being a team member and developing leadership skills (Flavin, 2018).
- Cross-cultural experience Experiences with a different culture provide new, potentially uncomfortable situations and help develop communication skills that may not be learned elsewhere (Flavin, 2018). Overseas travel, or working with a different cultural group within your community can provide an opportunity to learn new skills, or may involve barriers that must be overcome – all teaching leadership (Flavin, 2018).
- Social groups Involvement in social activities helps potential leaders develop a well-rounded, confident personality which enhances their capacity to lead a team (Flavin, 2018).
- Internships Taking an internship position demonstrates initiative in finding opportunities to learn and seeking practical work – valuable skills in leadership (Flavin, 2018).
- Volunteering As well as showing ambition, volunteering shows that you are willing to commit yourself to something that you are passionate about (Flavin, 2018).
- Student government and organizations Specifically considering students, being involved in co-curricular organizations help individuals develop leadership (Flavin, 2018). Being involved in student government or organizations can provide opportunities to demonstrate leadership and have an impact on those around you (Flavin, 2018).
- ‘Passion projects’ Showing commitment to a passion for better communities; for example, mentoring shows that you are likely to focus on the greater good for a team (Flavin, 2018).
- ‘Teamwork’ This can be anything at all, from helping out with planning a family event or participating in a volunteer day, will demonstrate and develop leadership skills (Flavin, 2018).
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Effective leaders are aware that continuing professional and personal development is the key to ongoing success (Higgins, 2018). As such, they recognize that leadership workshops are important (Higgins, 2018). What activities can be used in such a workshop?
Here are four suggestions:
Idea 1: ‘Tallest Tower’ (from Stepshift, 2016)
Participants are provided with everyday items such as toothpicks, wooden blocks, uncooked pasta and so on. The task is to build the tallest possible free-standing structure from the materials provided. This activity is designed to encourage creative problem-solving and developing collaboration skills.
Idea 2: ‘Centre Stage’ (from Higgins, 2018)
Select four team members as volunteers. One team member plays the role of an employee who has missed meetings or been late to work in recent times. Each of the other three participants demonstrates a different style of leader (to save time, nominate the particular personality trait). Ask all participants to form a circle, and put two chairs in the middle of the circle.
After each demonstration of how to deal with the employee, ask the whole group to reflect on the different leadership approaches. For example, the group could consider what worked and what did not. Finally, to conclude this activity, ask the group to consider what the ‘ideal’ leader would do in the scenario.
Idea 3: ‘Minefield’ (from Stepshift, 2016)
This activity helps build trust and improve communication skills. It involves participants working in pairs, with one team member being blindfolded. Then, using only specified communication techniques, the pair negotiate their way around or over a ‘minefield’ of obstacles.
So, for example, the participants may be told they are only able to use commands such as the words ‘left’ or ‘right,’ ‘forwards’ or ‘backwards.’ The aim is to help the blindfolded team member to navigate the ‘minefield’.
Idea 4: ‘Magic Carpet’ (from Higgins, 2018)
Provide a small tarp or rug, which has enough room for all workshop participants to stand within its boundaries. Then, inform the group that their task is to work together to flip the rug or tarp over without any participant stepping off. If (or when) a participant steps off the teams have discussed all of the paragraphs or tarp, the team must begin again.
These are: autocratic (also known as authoritarian), delegative (also called ‘free reign)’ and democratic (which is also called participative) (Clark, 2015; Johnson-Gerard, 2017).
An autocratic leader makes decisions without first consulting others, while a delegative leader allows the staff to make the decisions (Johnson-Gerard, 2017). Finally, a democratic leader consults with the staff in making workplace decisions (Johnson-Gerard, 2017).
Here is an excellent resource for exploring different leadership styles.
The workbook also provides some helpful worksheets.
The following two activities help participants think more deeply about styles of leadership. The group should be divided into small groups of 3 – 4 participants. The participants work in groups for the first activity, and then they work individually on the second activity.
Activity One (Clark, 2015)
Provide a list of approximately 10 – 12 scenarios displaying the three different leadership styles. For example, “a new supervisor has just been put in charge of the production line. He immediately starts by telling the crew what change needs to be made. When some suggestions are made, he tells them he does not have time to consider them”.
The group then works together to figure out which leadership style is used in each scenario and to talk about whether it is effective, or if a different style could work better.
Encourage participants to think about themselves in a similar situation and their reaction to the particular leadership style.
Activity Two (Clark, 2015)
Provide participants with the statement ‘consider a time when you, or another leader, used the authoritarian (autocratic), participative (democratic) or delegative (free reign) style of leadership’.
Ask participants to reflect on the statement and make a few comments, such as: was it effective? Would a different leadership style have worked better? What were the employees’ experiences? Did they learn from the leadership style? What was it they learned? Which style is easiest to use (and why)? Alternatively, nominate the style which the participant prefers (and why).
To conclude these two activities, come together as a whole group and discuss what was learned about the three styles of leadership.
Leadership building activities – Project management training – ProjectManager
Situational leadership is when a leader is flexible in their approach and uses different leadership strategies depending on the situation (Johnson-Gerard, 2017). The following three games, from Johnson-Gerard (2017) provide an opportunity to explore situational leadership:
1. ‘Jumping Ship’
The aim of this game is for participants to reflect upon different leadership styles and come up with a list of actual workplace scenarios which would need a leader to abandon a natural leadership style for one that is more effective (i.e., to ‘jump ship’).
Each group is given three large pieces of paper. Ask the teams to write one style of leadership on each (i.e., autocratic, delegative, democratic). Then, allow the groups 45 minutes to come up with real work situations for which employing the particular leadership style would be disastrous.
Ask the groups to place the sheets of paper up on the wall, and to discuss the sheets as a team. As a whole group, review the posters.
2. ‘Who Ya Gonna Call’
Each participant begins by writing a one-paragraph description of a work situation that is not going well. Collect these, and at the top of each page, number them in consecutive order. Then, divide the participants into two teams.
Give each team half of the paragraphs. Then, ask the teams to choose the style of leadership that would be the least and the most effective in solving the problem. Have the teams note their answers on a piece of paper, being sure to identify the paragraph number on the top of each page, and their choices.
Then, ask the teams to swap paragraphs and repeat the activity.
When the teams have discussed all the paragraphs, discuss the scenarios and review the choices as a group. Where the team’s choices are different, discuss as a group.
3. ‘Ducks in a Row’
This particular activity enables participants to devise a 3-to-5 step decision-making process they can use when challenging leadership situations occur.
Ask participants to form pairs. Then, ask them to come up with the steps that an effective leader goes through in order to work out how to manage a difficult situation. After about 30 minutes, ask each pair to review the steps they have come up with for the group, and to write them on a large piece of paper.
Ask every pair to review their process, and after all the pairs have done so, have a group discussion that enables a consensus to be reached about the three to five most effective steps to take in a difficult leadership situation.
Edsys (2016) provides eight suggested activities for children to learn leadership skills:
1. ‘Create a New You’
Provide children with materials such as textas, crayons, poster/construction paper, magazines, and scissors. Then, ask them to draw themselves, using things that clearly show that the picture is theirs – such as using cut-outs of their most favorite things to do, foods they like, pets, and whatever else makes them unique.
Once the children have finished their posters, they can show their completed work to the other children – helping kids to improve their confidence to lead.
2. ‘Same or Different’
The children sit in a circle. Ask the first child to point to another child in the circle who is similar to them, either in appearance, hair-style or clothing color. Then, when the child has chosen someone, ask them to note other differences and similarities they have with the child they have chosen.
3. ‘Move the Egg’
Ask children to form groups of four or five. Then, have the children select a leader for their team. Each participant is given a spoon and an egg. The leader has the task of finding an effective way to move the eggs from one point to another. For example, one option may be for children to form a line to pass each egg along.
Another leader may suggest forgetting about the spoons altogether and merely tell their group to make a run for it. The winner of the game is the group that can get their egg safely across the finish in the most creative way.
4. ‘Lead the Blindfolded’
This game requires a large indoor or outdoor area. Divide the children into two groups and give them enough blindfolds for everyone except one member to put on. The teams are placed at opposite sides of the space. The child who is not blindfolded is required to lead their team to the other side of the designated space, using clear commands.
Ensure that each member of the team has an opportunity to lead their team. The winner is the team that sees its members successfully cross the finish line.
5. ‘Charity Support’
Help children support a charity by organizing a fundraiser. Each child can have a different task. For example, one child may select the charity, another may find a suitable space to hold the fundraising activity, and another child can collect donations.
6. ‘Planning Strategies’
Teach children to divide a large task into smaller steps. Set the children a large task, such as holding a class function. Show the children a plan that enables them to achieve the task step by step. This activity can involve a number of children sharing tasks. Suggest to the children how they may be able to improve.
7. ‘Volunteer Roles’
Volunteering plays a role in leadership. Discuss with children how they would like to help someone in need. Older children may be interested in taking a role in an organization in their community. The children should be helped to select a volunteer opportunity that gives them a chance to practice leadership and work with other children.
8. ‘A Quick Quiz’
In this task, ask students to be prepared to evaluate an experience when it is over. Then, after the experience, ask the child questions. For example, inquire “Do you remember the name of the dog we saw?”, “What was it?”, “Did you touch the dog?”, “What is the owner’s name?” and so on.
This is an excellent introduction to leadership for kids in grades 4 – 6 (children aged approximately 9 – 12 years).
The following resources are appropriate for helping teens and youth to develop leadership:
1. “Leaders are, can, and think”
This looks at what a leader is, and what their role can and should be.
2. “Who do you admire and why?”
This worksheet examines leadership role models and the qualities we see in them that we want to develop in ourselves.
3. “4 Ways leaders approach tasks: Leaders Motivation”
This handout focuses on leadership attitude.
4. “Lesson Planet”
Links to 45+ reviewed resources for teen leadership which can be accessed free by registering your details.
5. The Women’s Learning Partnership
This partnership has created a comprehensive manual for promoting leadership for teens aged 13 – 17 years. The manual outlines a number of sessions which guide leadership development activities.
6. “I Care Values Activity”
This is a fun, engaging and introspective activity . It is suitable for students aged 13 and upwards, so it can be used with older students or adults too.
Examples of such activities are:
1. ‘Just Listen’ (Edsys, 2016)
Make an agreement that you and the student(s) will refrain from talking about yourselves for a whole day. Ask them, rather, to listen to others, and if they do talk to another person, it should be about the person whom they are talking to. This game helps children to learn how important it is to focus on other people rather than themselves, which forms the basis of ‘relational leadership’.
2. Silence Classroom Leadership Game (Stapleton, 2018).
To begin the activity, the teacher divides students into two teams, and the teams move to either side of the classroom. The desks may be pushed aside to create more space. The teacher instructs the students to, for example, ‘line up according to the first letter of your surname’ or ‘arrange yourselves into age order by the month your birthday is in’. The students then follow the directions without speaking a word to one another.
Students are permitted to use hand signals, or even write instructions down on paper. The teacher’s instruction to the students is that they are not allowed to talk. The winning team is the one that completes the task successfully.
3. ‘The Cup Game’ (Tony, 2018)
Divide students into pairs and select one student to be the leader. Each team should face each other standing up, with a plastic cup in the middle. The leader calls out simple directions, such as ‘touch your knee’, ‘close one eye’ and so on.
When the leader calls out “cup” the students should try and be the first to grab the cup. The player who successfully grabs the cup should pair up with another player who also got the cup. Those without a cup sit down and watch.
Once the new teams of two have formed, the cup is put in between the players and the game begins again. This process continues until only one person is left standing – and the resulting winner becomes the new leader… and play can begin all over again.
By high school, students are more sophisticated. Here are some interesting activities for high school students to develop leadership.
1. Brainstorming for change (Stapleton, 2018)
The teacher puts students into groups of 4 or 5. The goal is for students to come up with possible solutions to social, political or economic problems. Working together, students brainstorm both small- and large-scale solutions to a given problem topic.
Once the groups have finalized their list of detailed solutions, the teacher facilitates a discussion with the whole class, and together they examine which of the identified solutions could be a viable option and why.
2. Leadership characteristics (Stapleton, 2018)
The teacher puts students into pairs or groups of three. Then, each group member shares a story about someone whom they consider to be an influential leader. After each story has been shared, students discuss the characteristics that they think made the person in the story an effective leader.
Once each student has shared a story, students compile a list of all the characteristics of an influential leader they identified. Post these characteristics on the walls around the classroom.
3. Blindfold leader game (Stapleton, 2018)
The teacher arranges the students into a single line, and comes up with a starting point and finishing point. Then, the teacher places a blindfold on every student except for the student who is at the front of the line.
The teacher tells each student to put their left hand on the left shoulder of the person in front of them. Next, the teacher says “go”. The aim is for the leader (who is not blindfolded) to walk towards the finishing point, providing instructions to students behind, who are blindfolded.
An extra challenging game sees the teacher putting obstacles in the path – the leader must direct followers on how to avoid the obstacles and successfully reach the finish line. When this goal is achieved, a different student takes a turn of being the leader.
4. Buckets and balls (Cohen, 2017)
This game aims to move all the balls from one box to another. The catch is, team members cannot use their hands or arms. In equal-sized teams, players choose one ‘handler’ per team. This is the only person who can touch the balls with their hands.
The handler must remain behind the start line throughout the game. Team members attempt to get balls from their bucket at the finish line, and get them to the team’s handler without the ball touching their hands or arms.
The handler places the balls into the empty bucket at the start line. If a team member touches the ball, they are disqualified and can no longer participate. Give teams a 5-minute time limit. All teams play at the same time, and the team that has the most balls in the handler’s bucket at the end of the game wins.
5. Team jigsaw (Cohen, 2017)
Two teams have to complete a jigsaw puzzle within a 20 – 30-minute time limit. Give each team a box containing a puzzle. At first, A body will assume that their task is to complete the puzzle. As they work on it, however, teams will realize that the puzzle is missing some of its pieces and has some additional pieces that do not fit their puzzle.
Teams then have the task to communicate with one another, and they will eventually realize that they need to work together to complete the puzzle. Teams are only allowed to exchange pieces of the puzzle one at a time.
6. ‘Sneak-a-peak’ (Cohen, 2017)
Divide participants into two teams. Build a structure out of Lego. Make it complicated, but able to be replicated. Ensure that there is sufficient Lego left to build two similar copies of the structure.
Make sure that this structure is kept out of eyesight.
A player from each team is allowed to see the structure for 10 seconds. Then, the players will return to their respective teams and have 25 seconds in which to give his/her team instruction as to how to build the structure. Then, the teams have 1 minute to build the structure.
When that minute is up, another team member takes a look at the structure for 10 seconds and has a further 25 seconds to deliver their instructions to their team.
This process continues until all the team members have had a chance to examine the structure and provide instructions. The team that successfully built the structure is the winner.
- “ The Leadership Training Activity Book ” by Lois. B. Hart and Charlotte S. Waisman (2005) contains 50 handouts for leadership activities that would be suitable for college students. Find it on Amazon .
- This resource provides helpful leadership tip sheets that are suitable for college students. Examples of tip sheets are “ten keys to effective listening” and “basic confrontation guidelines”.
- Another valuable resource that can be used to develop team-building – an aspect of leadership.
A wide range of leadership activities are suitable for adults:
1. The Marshmallow Challenge
In this activity , teams use spaghetti sticks, tape and string to construct the tallest free-standing structure. They are given one marshmallow, which must be placed at the top of the structure. Devised by Tom Wujec.
2. ‘Stand up’ (Landau, 2018)
This game is convenient in that it requires no materials. It involves two people. They sit on the floor, facing one another. They hold hands, and the soles of their feet are placed together. Then, the task is for both people to stand up at the same time. This game builds trust and teamwork, and also develops skills in problem solving and collaboration.
3. Zoom (Stepshift, 2016)
A set of randomly provided sequential pictures are given to the participants. The task requires participants to put the pictures in the correct order to recreate the story, without knowing which pictures the other participants have. This activity can be an effective way to improve communication, patience, and tolerance.
4. ‘You’re a Poet’ (Landau, 2018)
To harness creativity and reflect on leadership concepts, one activity for adults is to write a poem. This activity can be done individually or in small groups. The aim is to consider leadership in creative ways to find new perspectives.
5. ‘Leadership Pizza’ (Cserti, 2018)
This activity can help adults develop leadership. It does so by providing a self-assessment tool. People begin by identifying the skills, attitudes, and attributes that they consider being important for successful leadership. The individual then rates their own development in the defined areas. The framework can also provide a helpful tool in assisting adults in identifying their leadership development goals in a coaching session.
6. Leadership advice from your role model (Cserti, 2018)
Each participant considers a role model who they admire. They then think about a young person they know. If the young person was to ask the role model for leadership advice, what kind of advice would the role model give?
In groups, discuss and share the sort of advice identified and talk about contradicting points and how they can be reconciled. This sharing discussion may be a practical introduction to the idea of situational leadership.
7. ‘Crocodile River’ (Cserti, 2018)
This outdoor activity challenges a group to physically provide support to the group members’ behavior move from one end of a designated space to the other.
Participants are told to pretend that the whole team must cross a wide river which contains dangerous crocodiles. Magic stones (which are represented by wooden planks) provide the only supports to be used to cross the river (which has ‘banks’ that are marked out by two ropes).
These ‘stones’ only float on the water if there is constant body contact. These ‘stones’ (i.e., the wooden planks) are placed next to the ‘river bank’ – there should be one less plank than the total number of participants. As part of the game, if a participant’s hand or foot touches the ‘water’, it will be bitten off (if this happens during the challenge, the participant must hold the hand behind their back).
The facilitator then pretends to be the ‘crocodile’, keeping a close eye on the group as they attempt to cross the river. When one of the stones (the planks) is not in body contact, it is removed. When participants mistakenly touch the ground with their hands or feet, tell them that the limb has therefore been bitten off and the player must continue without using it.
This activity continues until the group succeeds in getting all group members to the other side of the ‘river’. If anyone falls in, the group is deemed to have failed, and they must begin the river crossing attempt again.
1. ‘Feedback: Start, Stop, Continue’ (Cserti, 2018)
Openness creates trust, which then promotes further openness. This activity is designed to be used by a group that has spent sufficient time together in order to have a range of shared experiences they can draw from when they are providing feedback.
Each participant takes a post-it and writes the name of the person who they are addressing on it. Then, they write on the post-it:
“To…. Something I would like you to START doing is…. something I would like you to STOP doing is…. something I would like you to CONTINUE doing is……Signed: ___________”
In groups of around 4 to 6 people, participants complete these sentences on one post-it for the other participants in their group.
If they cannot think of relevant feedback for one of the prompts (i.e., start, stop, continue), they do not need to include it. Once the group has finished writing, they provide the feedback verbally, one at a time, and afterward hand the post-it to the relevant person.
2. Round Tables (Stepshift, 2016)
Four tables are set up with different tasks. Each task has separate steps that participants can be responsible for carrying out. The group select a team member, who is only allowed to communicate and delegate tasks but not take a part in the task. Each table is timed to record how long the task takes to be completed. Round Tables improves leadership and delegation skills.
3. ‘Pass the hoop’ (Landau, 2018)
This game requires participants to stand in a circle and hold hands. One person in the group has a hula hoop around their arm. The game aims to pass the hula hoop the whole way around the circle.
As well as promoting teamwork and problem-solving, this game develops communication skills. Being able to communicate effectively is a crucial skill for any successful leader to have.
4. ‘Improv night’ (Landau, 2018)
One key responsibility of the leader of a team is to encourage team bonding. One way to facilitate bonding is improvisation. ‘Improv’ develops skills in communication – helping teams to listen and pay attention. It also builds self-awareness, self-confidence, and creativity.
Arrange the group into ‘audience’ and ‘performers’. Then, members of the audience take turns in calling out the specified location, profession, and scenario (e.g., coffeehouse, cop, and purchasing a donut). Chosen suggestions are fun and should promote creativity.
5. ‘Shape-Shifting’ (Landau, 2018)
This game requires a rope that is tied at both ends to form a loop. The loop needs to be big enough for all group members to hold onto with both hands as they stand in a circle. The group is instructed to make a chosen shape (e.g., circle, square, triangle). The group attempts to create the shape on the floor.
Progressively, ask the group to make more complex shapes – e.g., a dog, or a tree. To add another layer of difficulty, instruct the team to communicate without talking – i.e., to rely on hand gestures. Afterward, have the group reflect on their experience and discuss the importance of communication.
Leadership is an integral feature of any workplace. Here are some activities to promote leadership in employees:
1. Your favorite manager (Cserti, 2018)
To begin this activity, employees individually take the role of three different people and brainstorm the particular behaviors that each person’s most favorite and least favorite managers demonstrate, from the chosen person’s perspective. After the employees have had the chance to reflect, the participants compare their list of behaviors – in pairs, and then subsequently, in groups.
The teams then prepare a list of ‘dos and don’ts’ for developing better employee perceptions of the leader’s style.
2. Explore your values (Cserti, 2018)
The values of a leader are reflected in their organization. In this activity, each participant writes ten things that they value most in their lives, each one on a post-it. Then, ask the employees to spread the Post-its in a way in which they can see them all clearly. Then, explain to them that they will have 30 seconds to select the three Post-its that are of least importance to them.
It is essential to time strictly, so that the participants rely on their gut feelings.
Repeat the process, this time allowing participants to have 20 seconds to discard two more values. Finally, give the participants a further 20 seconds to throw another two away. Participants should have three Post-its in front of them, showing their top three important values.
Following the activity, have participants reflect individually for about 15 minutes about what was found, and then to discuss reflection questions in pairs or groups of three.
Because this activity is done quickly, participants are encouraged to follow their own intuition – rather than over-thinking and finding what they perceive to be the ‘right’ values.
3. ‘Leadership Coat of Arms’ (Cserti, 2018; Landau, 2018).
Each leader has their own values and the things that they consider valuable and important. These values guide the behavior of the leader and make up a person’s unique leadership philosophy.
This activity sees participants drawing their own ‘leadership coat of arms’ embodying their leadership philosophy.
Individuals have 10 – 15 minutes to draw their coat of arms. They can divide the coat of arms (or ‘crest’) into four sections. To fill each section, consider the categories of leadership skills, values that help influence others, recent achievements/accomplishments and what you like most about your current work.
They should be encouraged not to be overly concerned with how visually appealing their picture is but rather that it expressed what they personally believe to be important aspects of a leader.
Once the drawings are complete, the participants can show their drawings to the others in the group and explain their unique coat of arms. It is also helpful to reflect on the activity – consider which section was easiest to complete and whether your crest reflects your company’s values.
4. Communication: Coach the Builder (Goyette, 2016)
Divide employees into groups of four to seven people. Each group should be given two sets of blocks (such as Lego). Each set should have a minimum of 10 blocks.
Beforehand, you should construct a sample object (e.g., a house) from one of the sets of blocks. In each group, select a leader, a delegator, a builder and a note-taker. The note-taker watches and records the group’s behavior during the task. They take note of what appeared to be done well and how employees could improve.
The leader is given the item that you built – however, they are the only group member to see the object. Set a timer for ten minutes. To begin with, the leader describes to the delegator how the builder should build a replica of the item. However, the delegator does not see the object, and at this stage of the activity, the builder should not hear the instructions.
The delegator can speak with the leader as often as necessary during the 10 minutes. The builder attempts to build the same item that the leader can see. However, they are only relying on the delegator’s instructions. At this stage, the delegator should not see the object that the builder is constructing.
When the time is up, reveal both objects to all participants and see how closely they match. Finally, to wrap up the activity, employees can discuss what was either frustrating or easy about the process and discuss how they may do things differently in order to achieve better results.
5. Accountability (Goyette, 2016)
Begin a meeting by saying to the group – “the seating arrangement is totally wrong for today’s meeting. You have 60 seconds to improve it”. If the employees ask further questions, only repeat the instructions. While some employees may continue asking questions, others may start moving the furniture around straight away. Observe the team and what they do without giving any further information, feedback, or instructions.
After 1 minute, let the employees know to stop. Then, ask them whether the objective was achieved, and how. Discuss with employees how and why a lack of clarity makes it challenging to complete a task.
Then, discuss who asked for clarification and how they felt when the leader refused to give further details. Use this opportunity to highlight to employees how if they fail to ask questions, and when the person in charge of a project doesn’t provide the necessary clarification, the whole team is at risk of making mistakes or even not completing a task.
Finally, ask how the time pressure affected behavior. Discuss how employees may be more likely to respond to pressure, or stress, by taking action without first confirming a plan and the significant problems this approach can lead to.
6. The “what if” game (Deputy, 2018)
Present different hypothetical problematic scenarios to employees. Either individually or by providing a document that requires written answers, present situations such as “you didn’t follow the rules, and subsequently lost an important client. You have lost a lot of money for the company. How do you justify this? What is your solution?”.
The questions only need to be rough, and employees should only receive a short time with which to think of their responses. If there is a particularly challenging question, provide a time limit of five minutes.
7. ‘Silver Lining’ (Cohen, 2017)
Employees form teams of at least two people who have shared a work experience – e.g., working on a project together. One person shares an experience from working together that was negative for them.
Then, the second person reflects on the same experience but instead reflects on the positive aspects of the experience (i.e., the ‘ silver lining ’). Then this same person shares their own negative experience, and this time it is up to the other person to focus on the positive aspects of it.
Often, when people reflect on an experience, they do so with a particular perspective . By looking at the positive aspects of a ‘negative’ experience, this helps individuals shift perspectives. Furthermore, by sharing experiences, employees develop deeper relationships, and team bonding is promoted.
8. My favorite brand (Training Course Material, n.d.).
Ask employees to bring three or four printed logos/brands that they use regularly or admire most. Then, form groups of 3 – 4 people. Teams have a period of ten minutes to share and discuss their chosen logos.
Their task is to agree upon the team’s top 2 logos or brands which is their team’s choice. The team also selects a team spokesperson who will report to the bigger group about why the team chose the specific brands/logos.
Participants are encouraged to share personal experiences or stories that they had with their chosen brand. After the ten minutes elapses, each spokesperson presents the logos that the team began with as well as their two top chosen logos/brands. It is their role to explain to the group why the team voted on their top brand/logo.
1. Manager or leader? (Training Course Material, n.d.)
Small groups of managers work together to create two tables, one titled ‘leader’ and one titled ‘manager’. In each table, the group writes statements describing either management behavior or leadership behavior.
For example, the ‘manager’ table may contain statements such as “schedules work to be done” or “delegates tasks”. On the other hand, statements in the ‘leader’ table could be “motivating staff” and “creating culture”.
The purpose of this activity is to demonstrate to managers the difference between management versus leadership, and show that while ‘every leader can be a manager, not every manager can be a leader’. However, by brainstorming leadership behaviors, managers begin the process of becoming a successful leader.
2. The race of the leaders (Deputy, 2018)
This activity encourages leadership behaviors. To begin with, write a list of leadership qualities – approximately 10 – 20 statements – on a piece of paper. Describe the qualities – e.g., ‘I determine everything that happens to me’, and ‘I will not blame others for my problems’.
Read these statements out loud, and participants take a step forward if they believe a statement describes them. They must be prepared to give reasons as to why they think they possess each quality. Continue reading the statements until there is a definite ‘winner’.
3. The best team member (Training Course Material, n.d.).
Divide the group into teams of about 4 – 5 participants. Give each team a large, blank piece of paper and markers. Each group has the task to come up with as many characteristics of their ‘ideal’ team member as they can. Teams should consider what this ‘best team member ever’ would be like.
After ten minutes, the groups should examine the characteristics that they have written and work out the portion which are ‘technical’ skills and those which are ‘interpersonal’. The aim is to work out whether most of the traits can be classified as technical or interpersonal skills.
Teams usually come to realize that interpersonal skills in employees are especially critical and that these have a tremendous impact on the quality and quantity of workplace performance.
This activity can be adapted according to the setting. For example, if the focus is on leadership development, teams could discuss their ideal leader/supervisor.
4. The importance of feedback (Training Course Material, n.d.).
Divide the group into three teams. Provide each team with poster paper and markers or pens.
Team A is required to consider as many reasons as they can that would make them apprehensive to provide feedback to another person.
Team B is asked to consider what feedback can help them so, i.e., what feedback will help them accomplish.
Team C comes up with as many things as they can that would make a feedback session effective.
Each team has 15 minutes to brainstorm their ideas, then, each team can present their ideas.
Point out to Team A that the hurdles they suggested are self-imposed ideas that will lead to the manager fearing the worst. Instead, managers should be encouraged to share feedback on a more regular basis to gain the necessary experience in having such conversations. Furthermore, by having an awareness of the most effective way to prepare and deliver feedback can help a manager conquer the issues holding them back.
Point out to Team B that providing constructive feedback as needed is imperative for developing a productive work environment. A feedback discussion that is well-planned and thought out delivers an opportunity to share what you have noticed about another person’s job performance and bring about productive change.
Finally, after Team C has shared their ideas, point out that effective feedback is specific, honest, and backed up with evidence. The feedback will help others to come up with goals, make and reinforce positive changes, promote self-confidence and encourage action in the workplace.
Thank all the teams for their participation and input.
5. ‘Shark Tank’ (Deputy, 2018).
This activity is derived from a famous TV show that gives people a chance to show their entrepreneurial skills. Managers may work individually or in groups. The aim of this activity is for employees to come up with a business plan that outlines the steps of how to build a successful company from ‘startup’.
Once the managers have a plan, they can create a ‘pitch’, which should contain the brand’s name, its’ tagline (or slogan), a detailed business plan, a detailed marketing plan, financial predictions (sales, profits and market) and potential problems (competition, lack of resources).
In a role play, appoint a few chosen managers to be the ‘sharks’ (the ones who consider the projects’ merit and offer imaginary ‘investments’). The winning group, or individual, is the one who raised the most money from the ‘shark’.
1. The Human Icebreaker (Stepshift, 2016).
This is a simple activity that can alleviate tension and promote discussion and contribution. Participants devise a list of questions that relate to people generally – for example, “who is left-handed?”. Participants then discover which team members meet the question’s criteria. After 10 minutes, the participant who has the most answers wins. This activity promotes communication and helps team members build inter-personal skills.
2. ‘Office trivia’ (Cohen, 2017)
This quick activity can help as an ice-breaker and provides a flexible option for team building. Create a list of trivia questions that are related to the workplace. For example, “how many people named ‘John’ work in the accounting department?” or, “how many people work in the IT department?”. Read the questions out loud to the whole group. The employee with the most correct answers at the end is the winner.
3. Plane crash (Stepshift, 2016)
The participants imagine that they are on a plane which has crashed on a deserted island. They are allowed to select a specified number of items from around the workplace that would help the group to survive. Each chosen item is ranked in importance. The whole group must agree on their decision. This activity helps with creative problem solving and collaboration.
4. ‘Magazine story’ (Cohen, 2017)
Each team works together to come up with an imaginary cover story of a magazine, about a successful project or business achievement. The team designs the images, headlines, and come up with quotes.
5. The Human Knot (Stepshift, 2016)
Relying on cooperation, this is a good problem-solving and communication activity. Participants stand shoulder to shoulder in a circle. Then, they put their right hand in the hand of a person who stands across from them. They then put their left hand in the hand of another different person (but not someone standing directly next to them).
Participants are required to untangle the human knot without breaking the chain. If the chain is broken, the participants must start over.
6. Make your own movie (Cohen, 2017)
This is a fun activity that is suitable for both indoors and outdoors. Although it requires the necessary equipment (i.e., camera, tripod, and microphone), teams enjoy it. Employees should work in large groups (more than eight people) and divide responsibilities. Teams work together to come up with scripts for a 5 – 7-minute movie.
7. Radio Play (Cohen, 2017)
This activity can provide an alternative to making a movie. Employees work together, spending about one-hour planning and writing a play and taking a further 15 – 20 minutes to ‘perform’ it, keeping in mind that it is designed for radio.
Each participant places their chair, in no particular order, around the room. The room should be cleared of tables and other furniture. Each person should sit on their chair, pointing in a different direction. Then, request one manager to volunteer and come to the front of the room. Their task is to walk slowly back to their empty chair and sit down.
If their chair is occupied, they can move to the next empty chair available and sit on it. However, everyone else has the task of stopping the volunteer from sitting down.
Only one person at a time can stand and move. No one can make two consecutive moves. A person cannot sit on the chair that they have just left. Once the activity begins, the room is required to be silent. No one is allowed to touch the volunteer.
Give the managers 2 minutes to come up with their strategy. After every round, the participants should discuss what happened and select a new volunteer for the next round. The team is given 2 minutes preparation time each round. It is important that the volunteer’s movement is kept at a slow walk.
At the conclusion of the activity, it is beneficial for the team to discuss the activity. They may reflect upon whether they need a leader, what made planning difficult, whether everyone agreed on the plan, and what would make the task easier.
9. Back to back drawing (Cohen, 2017)
Provide vector shapes on separate pieces of paper (they can be shapes of signs, objects or merely abstract shapes). Participants sit in pairs, back-to-back. Employee A is given a sheet of paper and a pen, and employee B is provided with one of the printed shapes.
The aim of the activity is for employee A to draw the shape relying only on verbal instructions from employee B. Person B cannot only tell the other person what the shape is – he/she is only able to provide directions about how to draw it, or to describe its uses. Each team has two 2 minutes to draw the shape.
10. ‘All Aboard’ (Stepshift, 2016).
Teams use various materials, for example, pieces of wood or mats, to build a pretend ‘boat’. All the participants must stand on the ‘boat’ at once. Then, pieces of the ‘boat’ should be removed. The team should still strive to stand in the diminished space on the ‘boat’. All Aboard can promote communication, problem-solving and critical thinking.
11. Body of words (Cohen, 2017)
Participants are divided into teams of between four and eight people, and each team elects one leader. To prepare the activity, record words that have one less letter than the number of people in the team (i.e., if there are five people in the team, a suitable word could be ‘book’ which has four letters). Randomly select a word, and then the teams have the task of making the word using only their bodies.
Each team member moves and bends their body to form a letter. The team leader can direct their team.
What stands out to me from this article is the complexity of leadership. This article demonstrates that even if one is not a ‘natural’ leader, there are plenty of activities that can promote leadership skills. Even children can develop leadership, and what’s more, have fun with activities at the same time.
What do you think espouses leadership? Do you think that there are people who might tend to be leaders more than others? Perhaps you have a story about a leadership activity you have participated in or delivered – I would dearly like to hear about your experiences.
Thank you for reading.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Leadership Exercises for free .
- ‘tony’ (2018). Leadership games and activities for middle school students . Retrieved from https://www.kidsactivties.net/leadership-games-activities-for-middle-school-students/
- Clark, Donald (2015). Leadership Styles Activity . Retrieved from www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/styles.html
- Cohen, Esther (2017). 31 Team building activities your team will actually love . Retrieved from https://www.workamajig.com/blog/team-building-activities
- Cserti, Robert (2018). 12 Effective leadership activities and games . Retrieved from https://www.sessionlab.com/blog/leadership-activities/
- Deputy (2018). 6 Impactful leadership activities to try at work . Retrieved from https://www.deputy.com/blog/6-impactful-leadership-activities-to-try-at-work
- Doyle, A. (2019). Top 10 leadership skills employers look for . Retrieved from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/top-leadership-skills-2063782
- Edsys (2016). 1 0 Activities for teachers to grow leadership skills in children . Retrieved from https://www.edsys.in/10-activities-for-teachers-to-grow-leadership-skills-in-children/
- Flavin, B. (2018). 8 Leadership Experiences You Didn’t Know You Already Have . Retrieved from https://www.rasmussen.edu/student-experience/college-life/leadership-experience-you-didnt-know-you-already-have/
- Goyette, P.(2016). 3 Leadership activities that improve employee performance at all levels . Retrieved from https://www.eaglesflight.com/blog/3-leadership-activities-that-improve-employee-performance-at-all-levels
- Higgins, R. (2018). 5 Fun and Inspirational Leadership Workshop Ideas . Retrieved from https://www.eventbrite.com.au/blog/leadership-workshop-ideas-ds00
- Johnson-Gerard, M. (2017). Situational Leadership Games . Retrieved from https://bizfluent.com/list-6762581-situational-leadership-games.html
- Landau, P. (2018). The 9 best leadership games for skill development . Retrieved from https://www.projectmanager.com/blog/the-9-best-leadership-games
- Stapleton, S. (2018). Leadership activities for High School classrooms . Retrieved from https://classroom.synonym.com/leadership-activities-high-school-classrooms-7855904.html
- Stepshift (2016). Leadership Training Activities . Retrieved from https://www.stepshift.co.nz/blog/developing-team-performance-with-senior-leadership-teams/strategic-planning-with-an-independent-facilitator/leadership-training-activities.html
- The Pennsylvania State University (2012). I can be a leader! Leadership fun for children . Retrieved from https://extension.psu.edu/programs/betterkidcare/knowledge-areas/environment-curriculum/activities/all-activities/i-can-be-a-leader-leadership-fun-for-children
- Training Course Material (n.d.). Leadership and management activities . Retrieved from https://www.trainingcoursematerial.com/free-games-activities/leadership-and-management-activities
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This great. Thank you
Great ideas, thank you!
Thank you so much for providing such a useful list of activities to demonstrate and for such a varied target population. Innovative and attention-seeking exercises yet practical.
Thank you for posting this informative blog. keep sharing.
Too interesting for me to try all.
Great article! Having group activities Melbourne helps the team to enhance working together. I love how it brings people together and motivates employees to learn from each other.
Great activities. Thank you.
This is an excellent article for every manager and leader tn build successful leadership. Thank you.
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Leadership Lesson Plans for Students ages 12-18
Leadership lesson plans for teens designed by our expert youth leadership facilitators to help middle school and high school students understand their leadership potential, identify their passions and values, learn communication and teamwork skills, and make a difference in their community.
Kickstart your group’s leadership journey with our unique lesson guides and teaching materials
Each lesson plan involves multiple group activities, individual reflections, and group reflections, and the accompanying leadership lesson guides and resources include everything you need as a facilitator. You can deliver an engaging leadership program in your own school in less than 1.5 hours, or all three lessons as a one-day leadership workshop! All lesson plans and accompanying presentations are in English, but the accompanying lesson guides are designed to also be beneficial for facilitators delivering the program without access to a screen or projector, or delivering it in another language.
By increasing youth’s capacity to understand their strengths as a leader, follow their unique passions and values to make a difference, and be good collaborators and communicators, you are contributing to our vision of “a global community of powerful youth, passionate about service, and equipped with the tools to create profoundly positive global change.”
Learn more about our three unique leadership lesson plans
- Lesson I: Leadership 101
- Lesson II: Passions to Actions
- Lesson III: Communication & Collaboration
The Leadership 101 leadership lesson plan for high school students (youth ages 14-18) provides an introduction to core leadership theory through unique individual and group activities. Leadership is a journey… kickstart your group’s journey today!
The main questions the lesson plan will help youth answer are:
- Why do leadership skills matter?
- What are the qualities of a leader?
- What kind of leader am I?
Click here to receive the leadership lesson plans, teaching materials, and facilitator resources!
The Passions to Action lesson plan for youth ages 12-18 (middle school/high school) provides your group with an opportunity to identify their passions and values, and understand how to transform them into positive action and change in their community. Youth who are able to connect their passions and values with community action are powerful agents of positive change – we have seen this time and time again with the hundreds of participants of our Global Leadership Academies !
The main questions the passions and values lesson will help youth answer are:
- What are my passions and values?
- What issues spark action within me?
- How can I transform my passions and values into action?
The Communication & Collaboration lesson plan for teens ages 12-18 offers youth the chance to test their teamwork, collaboration, and communication skills in format designed for maximum learning and reflection! Working well in a team and being a good communicator are crucial skills for every leader, and this lesson plan targets soft skill development in these areas of leadership.
The main questions the communication and teamwork lesson will help youth answer are:
- What does effective teamwork and collaboration look like?
- What is my role in a team? What do I do well? What can I do better?
- Why are communication skills important?
If you have any questions about the program or how to facilitate these leadership lesson plans for your group, please feel free to contact us here . If you are looking instead for a custom 3-to-5 day leadership workshop in your school led by an experienced youth leadership facilitator, learn more about our custom leadership workshops here.
Using the power of experience-based learning, Powerful Youth is an award-winning social enterprise dedicated to providing the best leadership training for youth world wide, helping them uncover purpose, fueled by their passions, to create positive and lasting change in themselves and their communities.
Want to learn more about our leadership programs in Canada and the UK for international youth ages 12-18?
Leadership Games and Activities for Middle School Students
Leadership Activities for Middle School Students
When it comes to leadership activities for middle school students it’s never too early to teach your children to become leaders.
The earlier they develop leadership skills the easier it will be for them later in life. By the time your kids enter middle school, they should have the concept of simple leadership skills and by the time they enter high school, they should be ready to be the class president.
There are plenty of leadership activities can be incorporated into the classroom and at home too.
Kids need to know leaders work hard and that they are never afraid to face a new challenge.
Leadership games and activities for kids are not only fun, but kids like to feel important, and believe it or not, they like having responsibilities such as chores at home or organizing group events.
Table of Contents
Leadership Lessons for Teens
- Youth Leadership Lesson Plans
- Leadership Exercises for Students
- Leadership Games for Middle School Students
- Activities to Teach Leadership Skills
As adults, teaching leadership lessons to teens can seem more complicated than when teaching leadership lessons to other adults.
You might be wondering how that can be since leadership is leadership no matter how old someone is.
All the skills seem to be the same as well as the techniques and the principles, but there are several reasons why it would seem a bit more difficult with leadership lessons for teens.
Unlike adults who choose to be in a leadership class, most teens have other priorities like competitions and playing with friends .
It can be hard to get the full attention of a teen when it comes to learning, especially when teaching them to become leaders.
It isn’t impossible though, you can teach a teen to become a leader, there are just some things you will need to know when it comes to the leadership lessons you choose for teens.
- Teens sometimes take constructive criticism personally. For this reason, it’s important to remember that they are young, and you might need to rethink how you say things to them. A teen doesn’t always interpret or comprehend the same way an adult would so choose your words wisely so that you don’t discourage them early in the lesson.
- Teens want and need to be taken seriously. If you have it in your mind that a young person isn’t smart enough to make a decision or to participate in an adult conversation, you might want to think again. Teens are smarter than adults care to recognize and they need to be taken seriously. Although it might take their minds longer to process than an adult’s mind, they can really have some great ideas and that is what will mold them into outstanding leaders when given a chance.
- Don’t exclude the precarious teens. Believe it or not the precarious can sometimes be the best leaders. A lot of times those children are problematic because they feel insecure and they might even be bored. Give them a few responsibilities to keep them busy and to feel important and before you know it the problematic teen you once knew will be the one who everyone will be looking up to.
If you keep these three important things in mind, then you shouldn’t have too many problems when it comes to following through with your leadership lessons for teens.
Youth Leadership Lesson Plans
Now that you’ve realized the difference between leadership lessons for teens and leadership lessons for adults, you’re ready to start working on those youth leadership lesson plans.
Before you roll up your sleeves and dive in, there are some things you will need to think about:
- Your audience. If you’re working with teens, know their ages and grade level; in this case, we are focusing on middle school students. Be sure the goals you’re after are age-appropriate and the same goes for the exercises, games, and activities you choose for your lessons.
- What are your objectives? Don’t forget that you are targeting middle school students so don’t set the goals higher than they can reach and never open the door for disappointment.
- Which method of teaching will best suit your audience? Teens tend to learn best using hands-on activities , group exercises, and role-playing games. Remember to be patient with them as they might take longer to complete a task or resolve a problem.
- How much time will you need? Consider the time frame you will be working with. If you only have a sixty-minute window then you will want to choose a simple exercise, but if you have an entire weekend, then you can include several different exercises and games. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t overwhelm kids with too much at once or they might get burned out causing them to lose interest.
- How much space will you need? Your location will be important depending on the activities you choose. If you have a small space to work with, choose activities that won’t require a lot of movement, but on the contrary, if you have a large space or you’re planning a day outdoors, consider playing some games that require exercise.
- Plan ahead. Once you know which games or activities you want the group to participate in, be sure and get all the supplies and equipment you will need before the event. Familiarize yourself with the rules to any games you will play and understand the outcome of the exercises and activities you will be teaching. Remember that you are teaching a leadership class, therefore you must teach by example. Being organized is an important part of being a leader.
Leadership Exercises for Students
One way to get started with your leadership exercises is to include a few icebreakers .
This is not only a great way for the students to get to know each other, but it will also help them with communication skills and it will build confidence in those who are shy.
No matter what you are planning, try and incorporate an icebreaker into the mix, usually, the beginning of the exercise is a good place to put them.
Match the Quote
With this exercise, you will need to place several leadership quotes around the room.
You can do this by writing them on colorful cards and posting them sporadically around the room. Ask the students to walk around and read them.
When they find the one that matches the way they think leadership should be, tell them to stand next to it.
More than one student can stand in front of the same quote. When everyone has found their favorite, go around the room and ask each student to interpret the meaning of the quote.
This is an excellent icebreaker and a great way for the students to get to know each other.
Leaders to Admire
Before you begin this exercise, separate the students into small groups. Ask the students to think of someone they all know who shows positive leadership skills.
Set a time limit and ask each group to discuss amongst themselves all the qualities that make that person a good leader.
Ask one person in each group to take notes and when the time is up a student from each group will take turns standing and sharing with the other groups what they believe are the best qualities of the chosen leader.
If time permits, you can ask the groups to get together once again and discuss the things that could make that person a bad leader. This exercise is a great way for students to learn and understand the meaning of leadership .
Build the Castle
You will need two different colors of clay for this exercise and two whistles. Divide the group into two groups sitting at tables.
Assign one leader for each group and give the leaders each a whistle. When time begins the leaders will blow the whistle and the first person of each team will then begin to quickly form a castle with the clay.
When the leader of the team blows the whistle again, the person with the clay must pass it to the next team member and that person will continue to build the castle with the clay.
Play will continue until the castle is completely built or the last person on the team completes the castle, whichever comes first.
The first team with the completed castle wins. This exercise is to practice teambuilding, communication, and leadership.
Leadership Games for Middle School Students
There is no better way to learn than by playing a fun game. If you make the games exciting the kids will forget they are learning, and chances are they will beg you for more.
Group games are also a great way to break the ice and to build confidence, trust, and communication.
Leading the Blindfolded
Before this game begins, designate a starting line and a finish line. Divide the students into small groups and ask them to appoint a leader for each group.
All the players except the leaders should have a blindfold. It will be the responsibility of the leaders to clearly instruct their team to the finish line.
The leader can only use one word at a time such as right, left, straight, etc. The leader should never touch the players. The first team to cross the finish line wins.
If you have enough time, try and give each person a chance to be the leader. This game will teach strong communication and trust between the leaders and the followers.
The Jigsaw Puzzle
Before you begin this game, divide a jigsaw puzzle into two sections and put the pieces into two separate bags. Divide the students into two teams and give each team a bag, but don’t tell them they have the same puzzle with different sections.
Set a time limit, 30 to 45-minutes should be enough time. When the time starts each team must work to put their puzzles together as quickly as possible.
They will eventually figure out that they all have the same puzzle and that they will all need to come together as one to complete the task.
This will teach the students how to communicate and work together. Before it’s over, there will sure to be a few students who will take charge and become leaders.
The Cup Game
You will need one plastic cup for each team of two. Choose one person to be the leader and pair all the other students into teams of two.
Each team should face each other with the cup on the floor between them. The leader should call out simple commands such as stand on one foot, touch your elbow, close one eye, but when the leader says cup, they should grab the cup.
The player who gets the cup should move onto a new player who also got the cup and all those who were left without the cup should sit down. When the teams are formed the cup should be placed on the floor in front of them and play begins again.
Play continues until one player is left standing. The winner then becomes the new leader and the previous leader should partner up and begin to play!
The Tower Challenge
A fun game that will make kids work together and think on their feet.
Divide the class into groups of 3-4 per group. The goal is to build the tallest and stable tower possible using the elements you provide:
- 25 spaghetti noodles
- 25 marshmallows
There is no limit to what they can do, but they must use the noodles and marshmallows.
Activities to Teach Leadership Skills
There are a variety of activities to teach leadership skills to middle school students, many of which they may already be involved with.
Encourage your students to be active and participate in as many extracurricular activities as they can handle.
Not only are these great ways to develop strong leadership skills, but the more they are involved with in school, the better it will look on their college applications. The following are just some of the activities to consider:
- Get involved with sports and become a team captain.
- Get involved with band or chorus
- Join a debate team
- Join the student council
- Become a classroom leader. Help plan the weekly chore chart and enforce it; lead some class projects and help with demonstrations.
- Get involved in the theater program. Sign up to be a stagehand, a stage manager, or take charge of the programs. Help with the schedules and delegating others to help with the production.
- Organize a fundraiser ; schedule a start and finish time. Set an initial goal and delegate others to help with the organization.
- Suggest and organize field trips.
These are just a few of the many things the kids can do in the school. Many times, they can be in charge of assigning other students to help with organizing the activities.
You should also consider other community service programs for the students to practice and develop their leadership skills.
Now that you have some ideas and leadership activities for middle school students you should be able to teach your students to become prominent leaders in your school and community.
A great way to help your student build the self confidence to become a leader is through positive affirmations .
A fun leadership activity is to play the Boss or Leader game.
The game is done by creating cards with phrases on each that either say something a boss would do, or a leader. And the kids needs to decide which is which and debate on why they guessed the way they did.
Here are some examples of cards you can use:
NOTE – Obviously, don’t write the headline ” boss ” or ” leader ” on the card itself as to give the kids a chance to guess on their own based on the written phrase.
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Mindset for Middle School: First Year
Mindset Matters for Middle School leadership curriculum consists of eight core leadership modules. The instructional flow develops a leadership mindset by using one topic to fuel inquiry into the next, creating a collective curriculum linking together each facet of character education.
Watch the Mindset for Middle School Kickoff Video
Mindset for Middle School leadership curriculum is a unique leadership development program that schools and youth organizations use to help kids learn to lead, excel academically, and prepare them for life beyond middle school. We achieve this by delivering curriculum that is simple to teach, cool to learn, and offers EVERY kid the choice to practice leadership. The program offers flexible instruction, a captivating video series, and a powerful connection to student’s lives.
We’re already seeing shifts in behavior from children who were never leaders. In the hallways we hear discussions about these tenets from our students. We started the program hoping to see a culture shift at our school, and we believe this program sparked one!
Middle School Teacher
Our son wasn’t someone who talked about goals or what he wanted to be when he grows up. We noticed a change once he started the Mindset Program. He now discusses leadership with us and plans to serve his country.
Middle School Parent
Every parent talks about safety with their children, but the credibility of this programs’ innovators and the unique content ensures peace of mind in a way that our informal conversations together could not. Glad to have Mindset Matters at our school.
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In the Responsibility unit, the last role playing of the Blame Game with the scenarios went really well. The 8th graders presented great situations with responsible and irresponsible responses – they really got into that and did a good job!
Bev, Mounds Park Academy Health Teacher
Mindset Matters is a program that simply and completely explains the connection between our youth and the leadership principles that have guided our country since it’s inception. When you go through the curriculum it is impossible to not be changed for the better. Kids will “get it” when you begin to relate their everyday experiences to the mirror that is Mindset Matters.
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Student Leadership Activities & Lessons
Are you looking for fun, engaging, and educational student leadership activities? TEEN TRUTH is here to help!
Over the years, our team has developed valuable student leadership materials and programs for our Student Leadership Summit . We are happy to share some of these activities with schools for free! You can also check out 3 FREE Student Leadership Worksheets and our Guide to Creating Student Leaders . Continue reading to check out some of our student leadership activities!
How to Motivate Your Student Leaders
We think it is important that our leaders understand the stages of MOTIVATION. If you want to motivate your leaders, you must first understand these three words: COMPLIANT. OBLIGATED. OPPORTUNITY.
Leaders that are Compliant: these types of leaders will NOT last. Essentially these student leaders are just responding to the demands, rules, or will of the adviser.
Leaders that lead out of Obligation: these types of leaders are taking a step in the right direction because they feel some responsibility, but still, in the end, their mindset is more of a HAVE TO versus a GET TO.
Leaders that see the Opportunity: these types of leaders need little or zero external support. They see their leadership role as an opportunity to serve, to give back, to make a difference, to create school spirit. These types of leaders are self-motivated to go above and beyond.
3 Ways to get your leaders to SEE the OPPORTUNITY:
Leadership Starts with You, but it’s Not About You: help student leaders see the bigger picture in why they do what they do.
Bigger than Self Cause: help student leaders understand that leadership needs to be about something bigger than themselves.
Plug into your Passion: help student leaders find something that they are passionate about and then encourage them to use that passion to serve (lead) others.
We know that in order to build great programs we need leaders who lead from OPPORTUNITY, not obligation or compliance.
Free Student Leadership Activity & Lesson Plan
When there’s a job that must be done, where should a leader start? There are a handful of answers to this question, but not all of them are equally effective. We’ve designed this lesson plan so that your student leaders would have the opportunity to learn and truly understand one of the most important concepts behind great leadership: a unified outlook on the mission, the vision, and the values of the group.
If you’re looking for a lesson plan that will teach your student leaders how to rally together and create a focused, collaborated effort, then this is ideal for you. So, without further delay, here are the objectives and the link to the free lesson plan !
1. To have student leaders understand the importance of “pulling on the same side of the rope” with examples from real life.
2. To have student leaders know the importance of mission, vision, and values.
3. To have students leaders know the difference between a company with No Mission vs. Knowing the Mission vs. Being on a Mission.
Download Lesson: Mission Vision Values Lesson
Use This Simple Activity to Ignite Your Student Leaders
Have you or your leaders ever heard someone say:
- “We’ve always done it this way!
- Or, “It worked last year, so let’s just do it again this year.”
- Or even, “Why change anything? That’s just more work.”
These statements are completely DE-motivating to new and returning leaders in your program. They diminish any hope of creativity and freshness!
On the other hand, student leaders naturally want to CREATE, to make their own mark, to explore new roads to school spirit and service.
Here’s Our Leader Creativity Activity
That’s why we created this simple activity. It’s designed to help launch a discussion on how current student leaders can BUY into what your program is trying to accomplish.
My Favorite Decision-Making Tool for Leaders
In my last grad school class with Dr. Garcia, he handed me a sheet with a large oval in the middle. Around the outside of the oval were several small circles. He said, “JC, I like what you’re doing with TEEN TRUTH, but you’ll have some big decisions coming up. This little tool should help. Imagine that big oval is your giant meeting table, and the people on the outside of this table are your board of directors. They’ll help guide your decision process whenever you have questions or troubles.”
I understood the value of the exercise immediately, and filled that puppy out that same night. My board of directors included all of the heroes from my life: my parents, my old football coach, Martin Luther King, Dr. Garcia, and of course Batman.
That sheet has never steered me wrong, so I was delighted when TEEN TRUTH’s activity director, Stephen Admundson, submitted the exact same assignment for your student leaders!
CLICK HERE to download Dr. Garcia’s board of directors leadership activity.
My board of directors sits here at my desk for me to view anytime I need. The question is will you take the time to write down your board of directors? Or will you just pass this assignment on to your students?
My hope for you is that Dr. Garcia’s leadership activity can guide you and your students, just like it has for me.
A Quick But Effective Leadership Exercise
For this simple but effective leadership exercise, everyone needs a pen and a paper. Place a blank sheet of paper in front of you, in the landscape direction. And use the following script: We are all going on a vacation. Close your eyes. Keep them closed and I will tell you when it is okay to open them. We are going on a vacation to a tropical island, so draw an island in the middle of your paper.
- To the left of the island, draw a ship
- You are surrounded by water, so put some fish in the sea
- This is a tropical island, so put a palm tree on the island
- It is a nice day, so put some birds in the air
- That ship didn’t get there by itself, so put a sailor on the ship
- The sailor might get hungry, so put some coconuts on the palm tree
- Sailors like to see where they are going, so put portholes on the ship
- Sailors like to see entertainment, so draw a hula dancer on the island
- It is a sunny day, so put a sun in the sky
Okay everyone open your eyes and see how you did…200 points possible. Person with the most points wins!
- 10 points if your island is in the middle
- 10 points if your ship is to the left of the island, but not touching it
- 15 points if you have more than one fish
- 20 points if the base of the palm tree is on the island
- 15 points if more than two of the birds are in the air
- 20 points if the sailor is on the ship, not swimming
- 15 points if any coconut is on the tree
- 25 points if any porthole is on the ship
- 25 points if the hula dancer is dancing on the island
- 20 points is the sun is to the left
- 15 points if the sun is to the right
- 10 points if the sun is in the middle
LEADERSHIP LESSON EXPLANATION USING THE ACTIVITY EXPLAINED ABOVE:
- Don’t rush the PROCESS, rather enjoy it. Don’t be in a rush to get to the PRODUCT.
- Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance
- Trust the vision even though you can’t see the end product.
- Guidance is key. Model what you want others to do.
- Go Beyond. Go the 2nd Mile. Exceed Expectations. (More fish)
- Successful leaders have VISION.
- Take calculated risk. Don’t be afraid to “fail”.
- No idea (drawing) is a bad idea (drawing).
- Anticipate the little things and do them without being asked or told.
The Leadership Pyramid Progression Chart
As you meet with your student leaders to reflect on the past year, you may find this simple pyramid extremely helpful. The purpose of this tool is to guide your students to the next step of their leadership career. From the sort of leader who can handle only a few independent tasks all the to a leader who can make decisions autonomously with confidence, this chart will help point them to the next level.
Draw the pyramid on your board, and have students reflect on what each level means to them. Once you’ve highlighted the key components of each step, ask your students where they think they are and have them set goals for the future.
Four Levels of Leadership: https://fourseasonsofschoolculture.com/four-levels-of-leadership/
Each step in this process is an important developmental stage, and it’s a good idea to encourage your students to be honest with themselves and to recognize that, regardless of where they are starting, simply by taking the time to analyze their current leadership skills, they are utilizing an important ability which will improve them as leaders and as students.
Building Better School Leaders One Activity At A Time
If you end up using any of these student leadership activities, we’d love to hear how it goes!
For even more leadership resources check out:
- TEEN TRUTH’s Leadership Summit
- Free downloadable student leadership worksheets
- How to build student leaders guide
- How to help leaders grow during the pandemic
- Student leadership themes
- Safety and Security for Schools
- How to Increase Student Achievement
- Types Of Professional Development For Teachers
- Stay Steadfast This Semester
- Cyber Bullying
- Awards & Press
- News & Promotions
- Voices & Insight
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- Leadership , Students
Leadership Activities For Students: High School, Middle School & Kids
- December 25, 2022
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Table of Contents
We want our kids to be courageous and empathetic. We want them to be self-aware, respectful, upright, and grateful. We want them to develop critical thinking when managing personal matters or when working on a team project. We want them to be able to spot strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and to figure out solutions to overcome difficult situations.
In other words, we want a generation of leaders. All the characteristics that we’ve just listed are part of a good leader. And all these characteristics should be taught in school. Kids, teens, and high school students can learn and improve their leadership skills, and that will secure significant benefits for them, at all life levels.
Stick with us to discover some of the best leadership activities for students! It involves tips and tricks on classroom management and organization, but also fun group games that help enhance their leadership skills.
Leadership Lessons For High School Students
The focus of a student government should be on the collaboration of students within the school to promote team spirit and engagement. This is a fundamental practice and a key component in establishing an inclusive school culture that values the entire student body.
Consider establishing a student government that works alongside adult sponsors in various activities and after-school programs. Leaders could be in charge of icebreakers for youth , team-building activities for high school students , and other student special interests.
Independent Learning Opportunities
Yes, leaders’ behavior can sometimes start from within! Another leadership lesson for high school could tackle independent project-based learning opportunities. These are a chance to develop valuable skills in internal leadership and integrity. This leadership activity for high school students is an example that people can find the internal motivation to complete an assignment and to do a pretty good job as well. These independent projects can be formative or summative. Either way, they’re an excellent way to develop leadership skills.
If I regret lacking one thing in high school, this is it. Indeed, tutoring programs are a great way of enhancing one’s leadership skills, but there’s so much more. Some students might discover that they could be amazing teachers, while some might learn that French grammar is not that horrible after all. This could also be a great ‘get to know each other’ activity that turns into a long-lasting friendship and a powerful bond. Allowing high school students to tutor other high school or middle school students is a big opportunity to add valuable tools to their leadership abilities. Plus, this is an excellent shot to boost a college application with leadership experience. Tutoring encourages leaders to establish their leadership styles on top of a leadership philosophy that suits their personalities the best.
Teen Advocacy Campaigns
- Homecoming prom?
- Mental health awareness month?
- Pride parade?
- Teacher appreciation week?
Campaign opportunities abound during high school years. Look out for different observed holidays and awareness dates and turn them into great leadership activities for high school students! They will definitely go for it, as long as it’s something that sparks their interest. You could even let them come up with suggestions. This will tackle their teamwork and competitive spirit, and it will also open up new learning possibilities, since the causes they will be advocating for might require some research beforehand.
Knowledge is power. Have students keep other students informed. Yes, announcements may appear to take time away from the actual learning lesson, but they are critical for fostering a sense of community in the school. Students who participate in, or even run, the announcements have a greater sense of ownership over the messages that are shared. Thought-provoking questions can be distributed throughout the school, hence this becomes another great leadership activity for high school students.
Leadership Activities For Middle School Students
Small Group Feedback
Feedback is essential. It doesn’t matter if children are looking forward to becoming doctors, lawyers, or farmers; feedback is an important aspect of our personal and professional lives. Small group feedback is a proper leadership activity for middle school students. The sooner people learn how to tackle this matter, the better.
Creating a classroom that is centered on providing positive and consistent feedback allows students to practice giving and receiving feedback in a safe and constructive environment.
All you have to do is allow students to take a piece of paper and provide feedback to their classmates during class projects. Giving constructive feedback is a simple activity that promotes leadership qualities. Furthermore, successful leaders consider feedback and weigh viable options to improve their work!
After School Programs
After-school programs could include book clubs , creative writing gatherings, board game clubs, gay-straight alliances, Portuguese clubs, and much more. Encourage students who have a particular interest in a topic or hobby to run activities for students in an after school program who may also have an interest in that topic. This leadership activity for middle school students is as simple as an announcement over the intercom and a paper sign-up sheet for those who are interested.
Planning a scavenger hunt is a great way to mix up instruction and give middle school students the chance to develop leadership skills! However, this is an excellent choice for all ages and content, since it can be organized as an indoor game , or as a camping activity .
- Divide your students into heterogeneous small groups and send them outside with a shopping bag and a blank sheet of paper.
- Make sure to go over the activity’s defined boundaries with the students.
- Give them 5 minutes to come up with a list of 10 items that are easily found (nobody’s personal property, to fit inside the provided bags, and to be accessible within the established boundaries).
- Once the lists have been created, collect them and randomly distribute them to groups.
- They must complete a scavenger hunt to find these items.
- Declare how much time students have to find and return all of their belongings.
The most important point to emphasize is that the entire group must remain together throughout! When all of the teams have returned, ask them to share any interesting stories about how they obtained their items.
No more corridor monitors. Safety patrols are now made up of children striving to be admirable leaders. This leadership activity for middle school students can help reduce misbehavior and bullying in the hallways, as well as assist lost new students in finding their way. Safety Patrol students serve as role models for expectations and are assigned to situational leadership roles.
Leadership Activities For Kids
Leaders In Charge Of Materials
This is a good leadership activity for kids because it challenges their sharpness and responsibility. If you have a lot of handouts or materials for an activity, assign a student or two to distribute them to everyone. This is also a great trick for your students who are always on the go! Allowing them a brief moment to stand and move around the room before the next section of the lesson clears their minds and provides an opportunity for leadership.
The Tower Challenge
This is a fun ‘minute to win’ game for kids that also addresses leadership skills. Encourage students to work in teams and communicate efficiently. Set a time limit of 60 seconds. Next, divide the students into groups and give each 50 spaghetti noodles and 25 marshmallows. The team that builds the tallest tower wins.
Indoor team building games for kids are the real deal when it comes to leadership activities for them. ‘Minefield’ is an obstacle course that requires an autocratic leader who needs assistance. One of the partners is blindfolded, and the other is responsible for guiding the blindfolded student through the obstacle course while providing clear and specific directions. Discuss what worked, what didn’t, and how they could do better in the future. ‘Ships And Sailors’ is another team building activity that would also work out tremendously.
Group Directed Drawing
Because kids love drawing. Form groups of students and distribute pieces of paper to them. One partner will draw a simple image on a blank piece of paper and then give their partner instructions. Finally, the partners will compare their results. This leadership activity for kids helps them improve their communication skills while also allowing them to work collaboratively.
The Student Timer
This is another easy way to give a student ownership and leadership opportunities. Time is valuable in the classroom, and most lessons have a time limit between transitions. Choose a student to serve as the ‘timer’ for the day. They will be in charge of communicating effectively about the amount of time remaining on a task. Hence, if you’ve set a time limit of 15 minutes for completing a task, your ‘timer’ is in charge of keeping the class informed of how much time is left and when that time is up.
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18 Fun Leadership Games to Build Skills
Here is our list of the best leadership games .
Leadership games are fun challenges and activities designed to help players learn essential skills and become better leaders. Examples include 60 seconds story, guess the drawing, and the blindfold game. These games aim to identify potential leaders in a team or help existing leaders develop essential traits like decision-making, trust, and communication.
These games are similar to leadership activities and can help in professional development . Also, the challenges can help participants learn essential leadership skills and become good leaders .
This list includes:
- free online leadership games
- leadership games for adults
- leadership games for employees
- workplace leadership games
- leadership games for kids
- leadership games for high school students
- games to build leadership skills
Here we go!
List of leadership games
Games are fun recreational activities but can also be a great tool to train leaders and build necessary leadership skills. From the tallest tower challenge to guess the emotion, here are fun leadership games to help leaders build skills:
1. Survival Island
Survival island is one of the most fun workplace leadership games. Players will try to find ways to escape an island in the game. Participants must imagine that limited survival items, like water, food, guns, torches, and boats, are available.
The team must agree on a strategy to escape the island without leaving any player behind. Players can appoint a captain to lead the team and assign different roles to teammates. Examples include the player in charge of guns to protect the team from wild animals, night guards, and team members in charge of food and water.
While thinking of a plan, participants will most likely have points of conflict. However, this game tests players’ leadership ability to agree on a strategic survival plan. For a more fun experience, let your group play in different teams. Then you can compare all the teams’ strategies at the end and have non-participating team members vote on the best. This game builds leadership qualities like decision-making, management, and strategic thinking skills. Also, participants will be able to assess each other’s weaknesses and strengths, particularly when assigning roles.
2. Tallest Tower Challenge
The tallest tower challenge is among the most fun leadership games to play with employees. This challenge inspires creativity, strategic planning, and teamwork. To play this game, team members have to work together to build a tower out of items like:
- Uncooked spaghetti
Before the game starts, ensure that you specify the rules and give the participants the needed materials. After building the tower, the goal is to place a marshmallow on top without destroying the structure. The team that makes the highest-standing structure wins the game.
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3. Escape Rooms
Escape rooms are fun games that inspire leaders in a group. Players escaping the room must work together to find clues and solve puzzles. This game is a great way to identify which of your team members have the potential to lead a team. Escape room games also help teammates develop essential leadership skills. While playing, players can exhibit their best management traits, ranging from strong communication to problem-solving skills.
Furthermore, you can use escape rooms to determine the players capable of motivating the entire team while working under pressure.
Here are DIY escape room ideas .
4. Draw Yourself
Draw yourself is one of the most fun leadership games for kids. The idea is for kids to make sketches that best represent their personalities. You can guide the players by asking them to describe themselves in the best way they can. For instance, a kid can say words like “I love dogs” or “I love playing soccer.” Then ask the children to express their likes and dislikes through drawings. Be sure to prepare paper and coloring pencils for the kids.
To further challenge participants, divide the kids into pairs. After, ask pairs to exchange their drawings. The kids will then try to figure out what their partner likes. Based on the sketch, the kids can ask their partners questions like “do you love dogs?” “is that a ball?” and “does that mean you love soccer or own a red ball?”
This game can be a little challenging for younger kids and preschoolers. However, older children will find this game helpful in building their communication and observation skills.
5. Guess the Emotion
If you aim to build empathy in kids, then you can play guess the emotion. You will need printed emotion cards and a band to play this game.
You can follow these steps to play:
- Assign numbers to participants in order of how the kids will play
- Prepare the emotion cards
- Turn the card downs so the kids will not see the emotions on any card
- The first player will pick a card without looking at the picture
- Assist the player in attaching the card to their forehead with a band
- The idea is for other kids, except the player who picked the card, to see the emotion
- The player will ask the kids questions that describe the sentiment on the card
- After, the player can attempt to guess the emotion
Be sure to instruct the player to refrain from asking questions with specific words like angry, happy, or sad. Instead, the player can ask leading questions like:
- Will I feel this way if I lose my favorite toy?
- Will I feel this way if I win a soccer match?
- Will I feel this way if I get injured?
Then the children will answer “yes” or “no.” The players who guess their emotions correctly in a round win a point. When the game ends, sum up the points and announce the player with the highest score as the winner. As young leaders, this game helps kids understand different situations that can make their friends feel a particular way. In addition, the game helps children communicate their feelings better and build their emotional intelligence.
Here are ways to express empathy at work .
6. 60 Seconds Story
60 seconds story is one of the most exciting free online leadership games. You can play this game on a video conferencing platform or message group with voice note features. First, look for topics your team members can relate to easily. Then let participants take turns recounting a personal experience related to the topic.
Each participant must recount their story or experience within 60 seconds. The story must be clear enough for everyone in the group to understand. You can award points to players who can tell a complete story before time runs out in each round. The player with the most points wins. This game challenges participants to test their communication skills. The game also develops storytelling skills, which is essential for leaders to inspire followers.
7. How Are We Different
How are we different is an exciting game to develop leadership abilities in children. As the name implies, the game requires kids to identify their differences. For instance, the kids can point out differences in hair color, clothing accessories, or height. Being able to recognize individual differences and uniqueness is crucial for leaders.
To play this game, split the kids into teams. Then let the kids communicate and try to figure out simple differences. This exercise is also one of the best free leadership games you can play online. You should send the teams into breakout rooms to enhance their communication. Aside from body features, participants can also figure out differences in work and personal lives. In the end, announce the team that figures out the most differences as the winner.
8. Blindfold Game
The blindfold game is one of the most fun leadership games for adults. The game’s objective is for a blindfolded player to navigate through obstacles in a field successfully.
- Find a free space, whether indoors or outdoors
- Place items like sticks, folded paper, and chairs to represent the obstacles
- Divide the group into teams
- Ask each team to present a volunteer who will wear the blindfold and move through the obstacles
- The non-blindfolded teammates will act as the volunteer’s eyes and give instructions on free paths to walk through to avoid obstacles
- The goal is for the volunteer to reach the finish line without stepping on any obstacles
Also, note how long the volunteers from each team took to reach the finish line. The team whose volunteer took the least time wins. This challenge improves communication, teamwork, and trust, all essential in leadership.
9. Capture the Flag
Capture the flag is a fun sport where two teams compete against one another for a flag.
To play capture the flag:
- Divide players into teams of equal numbers
- Find an ample space, preferably or field or arena
- Divide the space into two equal sections to mark the territories of each team
- Give each team a flag to keep in their respective territories
- Then a team will try to take possession of their opponent’s flag
- A team that successfully brings the opponent’s flag to their own territory while also protecting their flag wins
You should set the rules of the game before playing. For instance, players can “tag” an opponent who steps on their territory. The tagged player can join the opponent team, freeze, or leave the game depending on your game rules. Capture the flag builds critical thinking skills, which is essential while leading. Players can test their leadership skills by building a defense and attack strategy. The best part is that you can play this game indoors or outdoors. For a more fun experience, you can organize the game in a paintball arena.
10. Cross the Bridge
Cross the bridge is one of the most exciting leadership games for employees. The game requires forming a scenario where players are crossing a bridge filled with crocodiles or even lava. Participants can cross the imaginary bridge by stepping on items placed on the floor. Whether you put pieces of wood or stones on the ground, be sure that participants can conveniently stand on the items.
First, divide the group into teams. Then have players in a team stand in a straight line. The first player on the line will act as the leader whose steps the other teammates will follow. The team will start over if a teammate falls into the river. Furthermore, the first team to cross the bridge without falling wins the game. This game stresses the responsibility of leaders in leading a group and the need to think critically.
11. Tug of War
Tug of war is one of the most fun leadership games for work. The game teaches participants essential leadership skills like coordination, alignment, and endurance.
- Divide the group into two teams with an equal number of players
- Each team will stand in a straight line, facing their opponents
- Mark a line between the two teams to define their territory
- All participants will hold one long rope
- Once the game starts, both teams will pull on the rope to their respective territory’s directions
- The team who pulls the opponent into the former’s territory wins the game
Tug of war is a fun game that also depicts leadership realities. Leaders engage in tugs of war with competitors and various challenges in their leadership journey. In this game, the team that aligns their effort by pulling at the same time and angle will likely win. Therefore, the game shows that with coordination and alignment from the entire team, a leader can guide the group to success.
12. Balloon Chain
Balloon chain is one of the most exciting leadership games for high school students. In the game, players will form a chain connected by balloons. Then the team must drop all the balloons inside a basket without breaking the chain.
You can follow these steps to play balloon chain:
- Split the group into two or more teams
- Ask teammates to stand in a straight line, with a little space between each player
- Place a balloon between each teammate
- A team will have to move around with the balloons firmly placed between teammates’ chests and back
- Players cannot touch the balloons with their until the team is ready to place balloons inside a basket
- The first player on the line with hold the basket
- Then the teams must walk to the finish line without breaking the chain and having the balloon fall out of place
- If the balloon falls, then the team must return to the starting line to begin all over again
- Once the team reaches the finish line, the leader must figure out how to drop the basket without breaking the form
- Starting from the last teammate on the line, players will take turns passing their balloons to the leader without disrupting the chain
- The leader will then throw the balloons inside the basket
The first team to drop all the balloons inside the basket wins. This game stresses how teamwork, communication, and strategic thinking are vital to lead a group. Balloon chain works best for large groups with around five or more players in each team.
13. Guess the Drawing
Guess the drawing is a game that can inspire leaders to build their observation skills. To play this game, divide the group into teams of two players. Also, prepare words or samples of sketches. The two players on a team should stand in a line while facing the same direction.
Next, the last player on the line will use their finger to write a word or draw invisible sketches on the back of the second teammate. On the other hand, the second teammate will try to replicate the invisible sketch on a piece of paper. The teammate who writes out a word or sketch wins a point for the team.
Charades is a popular game to play during an informal gathering with colleagues. While many folks play charades for fun, you can use this game to build your group leadership skills. Rather than having players gesture prompts from popular ideas like movies, songs, or celebrities, give participants scenarios of different situations and challenges in your office. Then each group will take turns acting out and guessing the situations. This game teaches your team how to recognize and handle difficult situations as leaders quickly.
To play this game:
- Ask each team to present a volunteer who will act as the actor
- Before the game starts, come up with a list of challenges often experienced at work, such as employee burnout, low engagement, and difficult clients
- The host should privately assign a challenge or situation to the actor
- Then, the actor tries to gesture the situation
- To win a point, the actor’s team must guess the situation correctly before the set time runs out
- The team can further provide solutions on how to manage the situation
- The other teams will also take turns gesturing and guessing assigned situations
- In the end, the team with the most points wins
Charades is among the best workplace leadership games. The best part is that you can play charades in person and online. Also, the game can improve employees’ communication and observation skills.
15. Leadership Race
A leadership race is among the best games to play with leaders in an organization. This game lets leaders reflect on their leadership abilities and become aware of weak points to address.
To do a leadership race, first, compile a list of leadership-related prompts, such as
- I can motivate my team while working under pressure
- I am a good storyteller
- I know how to persuade my group to make a critical decision
- I get compliments regularly about my communication skills
After, assign a designated caller to read out each prompt. Participants will take a step forward for every relatable prompt. The first player to reach the finish line wins the game.
16. Blindfold Animal Game
Blindfold animal game is one of the best leadership games for kids. The host will assign an animal type to each participant. Once the exercise starts, participants will make sounds imitating their assigned animals. The goal is for participants to find other kids with similar animal types.
You can cover each participant’s eyes with a blindfold to make the game challenging for older kids. Also, set a time limit for participants to find kids with the same animal type. This game helps kids develop active listening skills, which are essential for becoming a good leader. In addition, the game works best for medium to large-sized groups.
17. Water in the Bucket
Water in the bucket is a fun leadership game you and your team will enjoy playing. To play this activity, divide participants into teams. Then set up chairs in straight lines, depending on the number of players on each team. Also, prepare empty buckets for participants. Each team gets to decide on the first teammate to start the game.
Next, let participants sit down on the chairs and hand over a bucket to each player. Then blindfold all participants and fill the bucket of the first players on each team with water. The game’s objective is for the first player to pour the water inside the second player’s bucket without standing up. Next, the second player will repeat the same step to the third player. The water pouring continues until the last player’s bucket becomes filled with water. Chances are that players will spill all the water even before reaching the last player.
In the end, compare the quantity of water each team’s last player has in their buckets. This game reveals a leader’s responsibility to lead a team and must therefore be critical in any decision-making. In the game, the amount of water each player carefully and successfully pours into their teammates’ buckets determines whether or not the team will win.
18. Spot The Difference
Spot the difference is one of the best games to build leadership skills, particularly observation traits, in kids. To play the activity, show participants two versions of the same pictures. The pictures can be of different ideas, ranging from a living room to a busy road.
However, one version of these pictures should have subtle differences. For instance, printed words on both pictures can be different. Also, the pictures may have a similar object with different colors in both versions. The participants have to spot these subtle differences in the pictures. You can let participants know the number of differences to find. The first player who finds all differences wins the game. This leadership game helps kids concentrate better and develop their observation skills.
Playing leadership games is a great way to identify participants capable of leading a team. The games let players channel their unique leadership abilities, such as effective communication, strategic planning, and good observation. Also, you can use these games to train team members or leaders to become better in the leadership field. There are many leadership games to play, with each exercise focusing on different skills. Therefore, if you want to pick a leadership game, then consider the leadership qualities you would love to build. The best part of playing these games is building your team while developing leadership skills.
Next, check out the roles of team building leaders and valuable signs of leadership . You can also check these signs of bad leaders .
FAQ: Leadership games
Here are answers to questions about leadership games.
What are leadership games?
Leadership games are exercises and challenges that can help leaders develop essential skills like good communication, motivation, and time management. These games are fun to play and help leaders become more effective while carrying out their responsibilities.
What are good games to play with groups of leaders?
Good games to play with a group of leaders include escape rooms, leadership race, capture the flag, charades, tug of war, balloon chain, and tallest tower challenge.
How can games help leaders build skills?
Games help leaders build skills by identifying the areas that the leader needs to improve. A leader will most likely not have every single leadership trait. But by playing games, leaders can identify and improve their weak traits. Also, the games let leaders practice their best skills and perform more effectively in real-life situations.
Author: Grace He
People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com. Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.
Leadership Games for Middle School Students
Educators at a middle school should consider incorporating several leadership games throughout the year's curriculum. These games are not only fun, but also challenging, and help to develop much-needed leadership skills in the students. Students will greatly benefit from well-developed leadership skills when they enter high school in a few years.
Explore this article
- Make a Shape
- Newspaper Hop
- Treasure Hunt
- Obstacle Course
1 Make a Shape
Make a Shape is a communication leadership game that will help middle school students learn the importance of communicating effectively as a leader. A large rope is used and each participant grabs a piece of the rope with both bands. The group then stands in a circle while the instructor asks them to make a shape, such as a star or a diamond, with the rope. The group is not allowed to use hand gestures or speak during this exercise. The instructor must evaluate the shape once the group is finished. The instructor then explains that the better a leader's communication skills are, the better the group will understand a given task. Results will improve with better communication.
2 Newspaper Hop
Newspaper Hop is a leadership game that will encourage students to focus on teamwork and planning. Students are divided into two groups for this game. Ten newspapers are set in a straight line in front of each group. One team member is blindfolded, while another team member uses a bell to guide the blindfolded member over the newspapers. The blindfolded student cannot touch the ground, or step on a newspaper. He must hop over the papers and figure out how to do so based on the bell instructions from the other student. Each student must take a turn wearing the blindfold and getting across the papers. In addition, the team must remember to do this quicker and faster than the other team in order to win the game.
3 Treasure Hunt
Treasure Hunt is a fun leadership game for middle school students that will help them learn how to be effective leaders and also how to work well in a group setting. The instructor should hide a treasure somewhere in the school. The treasure could be a homework free day pass or a certificate for an ice cream social at school. The students are divided into two groups, and each group has a designated leader. The leader has clues that will lead them to the treasure hunt, and the leader must use her leadership skills as well as the assets of other group members to find the treasure. The team that finds the treasure first wins the prize.
4 Obstacle Course
Another interactive leadership game for middle school students is Obstacle Course. In this game, the instructor sets up an obstacle course to be completed by the students. Again, the students are divided into two teams and each team has a designated leader. The leader will take his blindfolded team through the obstacle course. Using his words and actions, he must guide his group to safety. The team that completes the obstacle course first wins the game. This will help students identify what type of leader they are, and how they can improve in the future.
About the Author
Catherine Copeland has been writing professionally since 2005. Her articles have been published in newspapers such as "The Jackson Citizen Patriot" and "The State News." Copeland holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University.
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Tips for Improving Vocabulary Instruction in Middle School
These strategies go beyond flash cards to help students learn new terms and apply them in novel contexts.
Middle school students have a wide range of vocabulary knowledge. Many have developed a depth of knowledge from reading, verbal communication, and previous educational experiences, but some students lack the vocabulary skills needed to understand grade-level content.
All students benefit from additional vocabulary instruction. The ability to effectively use and understand words increases written and verbal communication skills, reading comprehension, and critical thinking. Flash cards are often the go-to strategy for helping students learn new words, and while flash cards can help with memorization, students benefit from opportunities to engage with the words that encourage making connections, application, and creation.
After incorporating a few of these activities into a regular vocabulary rotation, I’ve found that students not only memorize the words but are able to incorporate them more confidently into their writing and conversations and apply them to content. While I’ve used these strategies in English class, many of them would work in other content areas as well.
Strategies for Teaching New Vocabulary
Make it visual: Students create a visual that represents each word. Encourage students to create something that has a meaning for them and that will not only help them remember the word but also help make a connection to it.
I often create handouts divided into eight boxes, one word at the top of each box, and then the students draw their pictures in the boxes.
Guess a word: Students are assigned a word and then create a Google Slide that includes words, phrases, and images that relate to their assigned word. Once all the slides are added to one slide show, students try to guess the words based on the clues created by their peers.
While they can do this as a whole class, more students would be able to participate and practice if they played in small groups. Instruct students not to put direct definitions on the slides but instead to focus on connections to the word and creative ways they can represent it for their peers.
Teach a word: Students are each assigned one word to create a Google Slide that includes the word, the definition, synonyms, antonyms, a visual representation, the word origin, the part of speech, the word used in a sentence, and anything else they think would be helpful for their peers to learn the word. Then each student gives a short presentation to the class to teach them about the word.
At the conclusion of the activity, all students upload their slides into one shared document so that all students can reference them later.
Sentences with context clues: Write each word in a sentence using context clues that would help a reader who is unfamiliar with the word to understand the meaning.
Students must use one of the following types of context clues in each of their sentences: definition, inference, example, synonym, or antonym.
Free write: Students write about a topic of their choosing and try to include as many vocabulary words as possible in their writing. Encourage students to start with the words they’ve already learned and then refer to notes to include words they’re still learning.
Connection map: Students begin by writing one of the vocabulary words on a large piece of white paper. Then they choose another word that they can connect to the first word and draw a line between the words. On the line they write or draw how the words are connected.
They continue with this exercise adding additional words and connecting them to any other word already on the paper until they’ve used all of their words.
Shared silly stories: Seat students in a circle and give them a list of all their vocabulary words stapled to a piece of paper. The first person starts writing a story and must include one vocabulary word in their sentence and then marks out the vocabulary word from the list. Then the students all pass their papers to the person on the right.
The next person reads the sentence, then continues the story with their own sentence that uses a vocabulary word of their choice, and marks out the word. This continues until all the stories have used all the words.
Enlist help from other teachers: Share vocabulary words that you’re using in your content with other grade-level teachers who teach your students, and ask them if they can use the words in conversation with students and/or in class as applicable.
If they’re willing, give them a few words to use within a week, and tell your students to listen for their vocabulary words in other classes and see who hears them first. Students will remember the words when they feel out of context, and they might just listen better in all their classes trying to hear the words.
Concept map: For challenging words, have students create a concept map for the word to help them to consider everything they know about the word and how it can be used. This can include definition, synonyms, antonyms, visual representations, word origin, part of speech, the word used in a sentence, things the word is not, and anything else they think would be helpful for their peers to learn the word.
Charades: Students play a class game of charades to guess each word.
Vocabulary improv: Put students into groups and give each group a container filled with the words written on small pieces of paper or note cards. Students take turns pulling out words and incorporating them into an improv skit or conversation within their group.
Is and is not: For each word, students complete a fill-in-the-blank that gives the word and then fill in what the word is and is not, but they can’t use definitions, synonyms, or antonyms for the blanks. Instead of simply using words that can be googled or found in a dictionary, they must come up with creative concepts and ideas that describe what the word is and is not.
These vocabulary practices are engaging for students and help them begin to own the words as part of their vocabulary. The more they think critically and creatively about the words, write them in context, and use the words with peers, the deeper their understanding of the words. This helps push them beyond simply memorizing a definition and into understanding the word and how it can express their ideas.