Leadership games develop your skill set so you can be an effective leader. There are primarily two different ways to enhance your abilities.
The first way to increase your leadership skills through games is by leading and guiding others through the activity.
Being responsible for choosing, implementing, and operating a game allows you to practice leadership.
If you are not comfortable in a leadership role, this can be a fun activity as it allows you to express yourself in a relaxed setting. For those who are currently in a leadership role, this exercise is a different setting and can help relieve some of the routine stress that accompanies leadership positions.
The second way to improve your leadership attributes is by choosing a teambuilding game that addresses the specific skill of interest.
For those who are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, leadership games offer the chance to develop chosen skills that match identified opportunities.
To get the most from a leadership game, you may want to take a skill inventory prior to selecting a game. A skill inventory helps to identify personal attributes that are significant to you. Match the skill with the game for the greatest benefit.
When choosing a leadership game, you should keep the following in mind:
Games are geared toward different segments and demographics. Although a game might be fun, it may not be age appropriate or professional.
If a game is not right for your audience, consider making modifications. Sometimes it is fun and refreshing to create your own game. Use another game as an outline that will guide you in tailoring to your audience.
As a leader, you need to tailor your game to the organizational strategy. Consider connecting the game in a meaningful manner to the vision or mission statement.
The game may not appear to offer an immediate connection with the organizational strategy. When this is the case, tell your audience explicitly why the game was chosen. Explain to them what the game can offer the team during the after game debriefing.
Games have different requirements. Examine the required materials and consider available resources.
If required items are not available, you need to review those at your disposal. Perhaps you can make modifications by substituting different materials. As a quick alternative your team may need simple inspiration.
Remember, making modifications to a game can lead to a different experience that is more enjoyable.
Games take varying amounts of time. Games depend on three factors to provide educational value to leadership.
“Give each team member a piece of paper. Instruct them to write down, at the top of the sheet, a problem they have at work. Make sure to tell them it should not be directed at a specific person. These should be complaints about procedure, product, or some other non-human problem they have observed or believe exists.
Next, have them write below that, leaving a slight space, two things they think causes that problem (again, not mentioning specific people but finding a way to focus on systems, ideology, or procedures that people use). Draw a line from the two ideas up to the main problem, much like a family tree structure. Then have them break down those two ideas further, two for each, as far as they can go. The idea is to figure out what small things have led to the big things.”
This game allows the leader to identify problems others are encountering in their environment.
The family tree approach allows people to drill down in an attempt to identify the root cause of the problem. The beauty of this game is the application of the problem a deep dive into the problem allows people to develop solutions to deep-rooted problems.
Continue to dive deeper into the different layers of the problem allow the team to identify issues that are creating additional problems as well for the team.
Even though this game only recommends two ideas to the main problem, I might consider five solutions. The more solutions and layers the richer the information. This approach can also lead to a more inclusive solution.
“Have teams create your company coat of arms. In the first space, draw something that represents a recent achievement. In the second space, draw something that reflects your company values. In the third space, draw something that represents where you see the company going in the future. Post the finished coat of arms in your office.”
When you have many people, working on their own coat of arms the results will offer more value.
For example, multiple pictures allows leaders to identify the number of team wins, the importance of a win based on the number of people covering that event, and discovery of the types of things the team values.
The second space about company values offers important insights. You can highlight the values that resonate with your team the most. You may also learn which values may need to be stressed with your team to a more significant degree. At a minimum, you may need to remind your team of certain values that may be forgotten.
I see the future component as an opportunity. Based on the image that members select, you may want to get them engaged with areas of the project in the future. You team will be more likely to see their value to the organization when they have the chance to work on projects that are important to them.
In many ways, the important element of this game comes during the debriefing process. Based on the images that are selected you have an occasion to connect all three elements within a single coat of arms or by reviewing them as a collective whole.
“Objects are scattered in an indoor or outdoor place. In pairs, one person verbally guides his/her partner, a blindfolded person, through the minefield.”
This exercise helps to stress the importance of effective communication. Too often people make assumptions that others know what is expected or needed. By guiding a coworker around the minefield, workers will be reminded of the value of clearly providing directions and support to others.
“This is an excellent icebreaker activity that’s perfect for small and large groups alike. Begin by asking each participant to close their eyes for one minute and consider the best moments of their lives. This can include moments they’ve had alone, they’ve shared with family or friends; these moments can pertain to professional successes, personal revelations, or exciting life adventures. After the participants have had a moment to run through highlights of their lives, inform them that their search for highlights is about to be narrowed. Keeping their eyes closed, ask each participant to take a moment to decide what 30 seconds of their life they would want to relive if they only had thirty seconds left in their life.”
I would modify this game by framing the highlight by relating to their job or the organization. Similar to the coat of arms game, people will learn the value of activities and the importance of events.
By narrowing this list of events to a single relivable event, people can experience that joy again.
Meanwhile, leaders can appreciate the types of events that matter to their followers so they can provide similar experiences in the future.
“The entire group must find a way to occupy a space that shrinks over time, until they are packed creatively like sardines. You can form the boundary with a rope, a tarp or blanket being folded over or small traffic cones.”
This activity relates to providing exceptional customer service. Workers are asked to think creatively as space decreases in size. As the space shrinks, participants must learn to respond in an innovative manner.
This level of creatively and innovation applies to providing quality service. Your customer is bound to have problems at some point or another. Organizational members may need to think outside the box and offer solutions to fit the needs of their customers.
Not everyone is a fan of games. As previously stated, you need to know your audience. However, when you take the time to connect the game to organizational situations and debrief after the activity you are more likely to have a positive experience. One of these positive results is the growth of skills that will allow you to succeed at your job.
David Moriarty writes about leadership, life purpose, and cancer recovery. He is a teacher who works with youth. Previously he overcame his battle with cancer. Currently he is pursuing a degree in leadership.
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