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50 Activities for Developing Leaders

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Part of our best-selling 50 Activities series! Comes complete with learning objectives, facilitator guidance, and reproducible materials. Activities take 30 minutes to 2 hours. Training Objectives: ´ Develop key leadership skills ´ Recognize and address skills needing further development ´ Identify ability to take risks and initiate change ´ Build strategies for personal development ´ Encourage creativity to enhance visioning skills. Training Methods: ´ Written exercises ´ Group exercises ´ Closure activities ´ Role-plays ´ Self-assessments.

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1 Opening Your Leadership Workshop

PDF

Trainer’s Notes

Approximate

Time

Trainer’s Notes

I.

Introduction of Trainer(s) .................................................................

Prepare an introduction that will help participants learn more about those who will be doing the training. Include information about the trainers’ expertise in leadership and expectations for the program.

5 min.

II.

Warm-up Activity ..............................................................................

Select and conduct a warm-up activity that will help the participants get acquainted and feel relaxed with one another and will easily lead into regrouping the participants.

15–30 min.

III.

Regroup ...............................................................................................

A. Following the warm-up, regroup participants into teams of 5 to

7. It is best to pre-group the participants heterogeneously before the workshop begins, based on what you have previously learned about the participants. Prepare the table tents before the workshop, sort them into teams, and distribute them on the work tables before the participants arrive.

 

2 People Hunt

PDF

Trainer’s Notes

Approximate

Time

Trainer’s Notes

I.

Overview..............................................................................................

A. Introduce the topic: “The purpose of this warm-up activity is for us to become better acquainted and tune into today’s workshop.”

B.

II.

1 min.

Overview: “We will be milling together in this open space with the objective of finding someone who matches each of the descriptions on the handout.”

Objectives ............................................................................................

“The objectives of this warm-up activity are to help you become better acquainted and to provide a transition from your work and personal life to this workshop.”

1 min.

III. Give Directions ...................................................................................

A. Distribute copies of Handout 2.1.

2 min.

B.

Read the directions and answer the questions.

C.

Instruct participants to stand with their handouts and pens and begin collecting names.

IV. Conduct the People Hunt...................................................................

 

3 Name Tag

PDF

Trainer’s Notes

Approximate

Time

Trainer’s Notes

I.

Overview..............................................................................................

A. Introduce the topic: “The purpose of this warm-up activity is for us to become better acquainted and tune into today’s workshop.”

1 min.

B. Overview: “You will be writing some information and then sharing parts of it with others in the group.”

II.

Give Directions ...................................................................................

A. Distribute copies of Handout 3.1 and draw a larger facsimile of it on the flipchart.

1 min.

B. Ask participants to put their name in large block letters on their large name tag.

C. Explain that participants will be given topics to put into each of the four boxes and that you will be listing the topics on the flipchart.

III. Complete Name Tag...........................................................................

Introduce each of the following four categories of information, one at a time. List them on the flipchart:

 

4 What Do You KnowAbout Leadership?

PDF

Trainer’s Notes

Approximate

Time

Trainer’s Notes

I.

Overview..............................................................................................

A. Introduce the topic: “The purpose of this warm-up activity is to identify what we know and don’t know about leadership.”

B.

II.

1 min.

Overview: “Together, we will be listing what we know and don’t know about leadership and identifying resources to expand our knowledge.”

Objectives ............................................................................................

To recognize what participants know about leadership and to identify resources on leadership.

III. What Do You Know? .........................................................................

A. Post four pieces of large chart paper on the wall. Label them:

What I know about leadership

Questions I have about leadership

Resources on leadership

Definitions of leadership

B.

Distribute large stick-on notes on which participants write as many items as they can that fit the four categories.

 

5 Common Themes in Leadership Research

PDF

Trainer’s Notes

Approximate

Time

Trainer’s Notes

I.

Overview .............................................................................................

A. Introduce the topic: Poll the participants by asking, “Who has read the following books?” Name the titles that you will be reviewing in this lesson.

2 min.

B. Overview: “We are going to review the ideas generated from some of the best researchers and writers on leadership. As I present each one, I want you to look for similarities among the approaches.”

II.

Objective .............................................................................................

“The objective for this activity is to review the current research and literature on leadership.”

1 min.

III.

What Experts Say About Leadership...............................................

Present an overview of what experts are writing and saying about leadership. The following list outlines ideas from 12 sources. The ideas are presented in alphabetical order by authors’ names.

30–60 min.

 

6 How Is a Manager Different From a Leader?

PDF

6

How Is a Manager Different

From a Leader?

Objective

To identify the qualities and behaviors of both managers and leaders.

Estimated Time

60 minutes

Training Methods

Discussion

Materials

Flipchart and markers

Equipment and Supplies

Flipcharts and markers

Comments

Until recently, people have been unsure about the differences between managers and leaders. The words are used interchangeably, and the descriptions are either incomplete or unclear.

The resource that best clarifies the differences in the characteristics and behaviors between managers and leaders is John Kotter’s book, A Force for Change. This activity is based on his research.

If your participants are all from the same company, you might use the names of actual managers and leaders. If this is too threatening, name famous leaders in various fields of politics, education, the military, religion, or government, or identify real people who work in the participants’ community or in the government. They would need to be familiar with these named individuals to complete this activity.

 

7 What Did You Learn FromYour Childhood Models?

PDF

Trainer’s Notes

Approximate

Time

Trainer’s Notes

I.

Overview .............................................................................................

A. Introduce the topic: “The focus of this activity is to explore what we learned from the adults who were in our lives as children.”

1 min.

B. Overview: “You will first recall memories of your parents and other adults in your childhood and then list your heroes and heroines.”

II.

Objective .............................................................................................

“The objective of this activity is to identify what we learned from adults in our childhood and young adulthood.”

1 min.

III.

Sharing About Our Parents ..............................................................

A. Ask participants to form pairs and arrange their chairs facing each other.

10–15 min.

B. Give directions: “You will be asked to reflect on your childhood and share your recollection of your parents. Be sensitive to the fact that some people will have fond memories and others will not. Be supportive.”

 

8 The Best and Worst LeadersYou’ve Known

PDF

Trainer’s Notes

Approximate

Time

Trainer’s Notes

I.

Overview .............................................................................................

A. Introduce the topic: “The focus of this activity is to recall our experiences as adults when we were followers. We want to identify the qualities that were exhibited by both the best and the worst leaders we’ve known.”

1 min.

B. Overview: “In small groups you will talk about the worst leaders you’ve had and then the best leaders.”

II.

Objective .............................................................................................

“The objective of this activity is to identify qualities of both the best and worst leaders we’ve known.”

1 min.

III.

Worst Leaders ....................................................................................

A. Form small groups of 4 to 6 people around tables. Provide two large pieces of flipchart paper and two colored markers to each group.

10 min.

B. Give directions: “On the first piece of paper, brainstorm the qualities you saw in people who exhibited the worst kind of leadership toward you and others. Make your list as long as you want.”

 

9 Mentors and Mentoring

PDF

Trainer’s Notes

Approximate

Time

Trainer’s Notes

I.

Overview .............................................................................................

A. Introduce the topic: “Mentors are the focus of this activity: who they are, what they do, and how you can be one.”

1 min.

B. Overview: “First, you will share your experiences as a mentee; next, we will review the guidelines for setting up a mentoring relationship; and finally, you will make plans to be a mentor.”

II.

Objectives............................................................................................

“The objectives for this activity are to identify what we learned from a mentor, to identify what a mentor does, to assess the benefits of mentoring, and to outline guidelines for mentoring.”

1 min.

III.

Sharing Our Experiences with Mentors ..........................................

A. Have individuals reflect on the following questions:

15 min.

1. Who was your mentor?

2. What went well?

3. Describe anything that did not go well. What could have been done by you or your mentor to make it better?

 

10 Your Values and Beliefs

PDF

Trainer’s Notes

Approximate

Time

Trainer’s Notes

I.

Overview .............................................................................................

A. Introduce the topic: “The focus of this activity is to explore your values and beliefs. Research on leadership has shown that effective leaders are clear about their beliefs and values and articulate them to their followers, colleagues, bosses, and customers.”

1 min.

B. Overview: “You will explore your core beliefs and your values.

Next, we will do an activity that will help you apply what you have learned about your beliefs and values.”

II.

Objectives............................................................................................

“The objectives for this lesson are to identify one’s core values and beliefs and to assess which values and beliefs are essential in effective leaders.”

1 min.

III.

Core Beliefs .........................................................................................

A. Give this definition: “A belief is anything you accept as the truth for you. Beliefs are those tenets, creeds, or doctrines that you have accepted as real and true for your life.”

 

11 Your Personal Traits

PDF

11

Your Personal Traits

Objectives

To compare one’s personal traits to the traits possessed by effective leaders.

Estimated Time

80 minutes

Training Methods

Self-assessment

Discussion

Materials

Handout 11.1: Your Personal Traits

Equipment and Supplies

Flipchart and markers

Comments

Researchers have found many key traits associated with effective leadership. This activity helps developing leaders identify which traits they already possess that will help them be effective in leading others and provides them with the opportunity to work on some personal traits.

Use this activity after your overview of research about leadership.

Ideally, do this activity early in your program to give participants the opportunity to validate their self-perceptions with people who know them well and then return to the workshop with this information.

One caution is that some people may not be willing to talk openly about their personal traits; that is why the sharing in Section III is done with only one partner.

The questions in III (B) could be discussed using hypothetical situations rather than requiring participants to admit a lack in themselves.

 

12 Leading at Your Best

PDF

12

Leading at Your Best

Objectives

To reflect on a time when participants led others well.

To assess what they did during this optimal experience of leading others.

Estimated Time

35 to 40 minutes

Training Methods

Discussion

Equipment and Supplies

Flipchart and markers

Pen and paper

Comments

This activity was the basis of the leadership research by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge. They interviewed successful leaders and wrote about the responses. (See their Appendix A for a complete description of the questions they asked.

Since this is a copyrighted questionnaire, you would need to get permission to use it.)

This activity requires participants to write out their answers. You need to give them enough time to reflect and write because they might not immediately remember a time when they were at their best leading others.

Participants may be reluctant to share their personal experiences even though the sharing of successes is likely to increase their level of comfort. This activity requires them to share in a small group before the leader polls the large group for ideas.

 

13 Trying Something New

PDF

Trainer’s Notes

Approximate

Time

Trainer’s Notes

I.

Overview .............................................................................................

A. Introduce the topic: “The focus of this activity is to experiment with something new. For the next fifteen minutes, I want you to take a partner, leave this room, and try two new things:

1 min.

1. Walk up to stranger and ask them if they would lend you some object (not money) or tell you (name something difficult).

2. Walk through this building or facility, enter a room you haven’t been in, and ask the people what they are doing and how they like their work.”

II.

Objectives............................................................................................

“The objectives for this lesson are to identify one’s willingness to try something new and to confirm that experimentation is an essential skill found in effective leaders.”

1 min.

III.

Process This Activity..........................................................................

A. While participants are away, rearrange the room furniture and their notebooks.

 

14 Taking Risks—Your Style and Opportunities

PDF

Trainer’s Notes

Approximate

Time

Trainer’s Notes

I.

Overview .............................................................................................

A. Introduce the topic: “The focus of this activity is to look at how you take risks and apply this awareness to your leadership style.

You take risks every day and may not think about them. For instance:

1 min.

Driving to this workshop or work

Eating food in a restaurant

Deciding what to wear

Giving negative feedback to a follower

Making a decision that involves allocation of resources

Dealing with a conflict between two employees

“Leadership requires taking many risks and modeling confidence to one’s followers when risks are taken.”

II.

Objectives............................................................................................

“The objectives for this lesson are to identify one’s style for taking risks, recognize the level of each risk, weigh the pros and cons of each risk, and identify why risk taking is essential for leaders.”

1 min.

 

15 How Do You Feel About Change?

PDF

Trainer’s Notes

Approximate

Time

Trainer’s Notes

I.

Overview .............................................................................................

A. As participants return, give them no directions. Observe their reactions and their ways of figuring out this new situation.

1 min.

B. Ask them to express their feelings about finding the room rearranged and their places moved.

C. Introduce the objectives and provide an overview of this lesson:

“The objectives for this lesson are to identify one’s attitude toward change and to apply this awareness to helping others face change. We will be doing two short activities to clarify your views toward change, and then we will discuss how to apply what you have learned about yourself to leading others.”

II.

Nine Dots .............................................................................................

A. Distribute Handout 15.1 and ask participants to try to solve this problem individually. (Ask anyone who has seen it before to watch others and say nothing.)

 

16 Helping Others Face Change

PDF

16

Helping Others Face

Change

Objectives

To identify how leaders can help others deal with change.

Estimated Time

30 minutes

Training Methods

Presentation

Discussion

Equipment and Supplies

Flipchart and markers

Comments

Effective leaders are comfortable with change; in fact, they expect change to lead to opportunities and they initiate needed change. They learn from the changes they made in the past and apply these experiences to future changes. A leader must be ready to help others adjust their attitudes toward change and to be a partner in facing changes.

This activity is intended to follow Activity 15, How Do You Feel About Change?

As you are planning this activity and reviewing the six steps outlined here, think of an example you could use to explain these steps to your participants. You might select two examples, one in which a leader neglected to follow all of the steps and thus the employees’ reactions were not positive, and one that was more exemplary.

You should also look at Activity 22, Communicating the Benefits of a Vision

 

17 Let’s Dream!

PDF

17

Let’s Dream!

Objectives

To identify the elements and value of daydreaming.

To apply dreaming to the process of creating a vision.

Estimated Time

60 minutes

Training Methods

Guided Imagery

Presentation

Discussion

Equipment and Supplies

Blankets

Tape recorder and meditative music

Comments

Creating a vision is one of the key leadership behaviors mentioned by most writers and researchers of leadership. As children, we all day-dreamed, but somehow we did less as we became adults. This day-dreaming skill is a very important one for leaders to revive and to use so they can develop a vision for their organization.

For help in preparing to teach others about vision, read more on the subject of creativity and vision. The leadership books in the bibliography outline the need for this skill, and some of their examples will give you additional clues on how to help others become more visionary.

If the weather doesn’t permit doing this activity outdoors, use the floor inside. You might add soothing music during the imaging exercise.

 

18 Tapping Into Creativity

PDF

Trainer’s Notes

Approximate

Time

Trainer’s Notes

I.

Overview .............................................................................................

A. Introduce the topic: “We are going to do several short activities that will help you tap your creativity, which in turn will help you when you are creating a vision.”

1 min.

B. Overview: “We will go outside for some exercise and fresh air, then move inside for three activities.”

II.

Objectives

“The objectives of this activity are to identify the value of tapping one’s creativity and to stimulate one’s creativity as the first step in creating a vision.”

III.

Let’s Stretch........................................................................................

A. Take the group outside and ask participants to form pairs.

B. Instruct the pairs to take a walk together for twenty minutes.

Each partner will be the focus person for ten minutes during which she or he will relate:

1. How and where participants learned to tap their creativity.

2. The value of tapping our creativity in our lives.

 

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