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10 Leadership Games to Build and Develop Your Skills

Aspiring to lead with clarity, motivate with purpose, and drive results? While leadership positions come with titles, the leadership qualities that underpin them can be cultivated by anyone. But how do you develop these abilities in a dynamic and engaging way?

This post introduces 10 strategic leadership games designed to hone your communication, problem-solving, and collaborative strengths. After all, there’s no better way to indulge in group activities that build camaraderie and instill confidence. Happier teams work more productively and help create a more supportive work environment.

Let’s explore the best leadership games to help you and your team put your best foot forward and work better as a squad. But first, a primer.

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What Are Leadership Games and Their Uses

Leadership games are specifically designed to enhance team outcomes such as collaboration, problem-solving, communication, teamwork, and much more. These games create an environment for experimental learning, which is both fun and educational.

These fun exercises encourage you to adopt the leadership abilities of strategic thinking, effective communication, and better collaboration at your workplace while having a blast throughout!

The significance of leadership games

Leadership games provide a safe space to practice, experiment, and make mistakes without real-world consequences! They simulate workplace scenarios and break down complex concepts into bite-sized challenges, making learning enjoyable and effective.

You’ll be surprised how much you can learn and gain through some friendly workplace competition. When you hone your essential leadership skills through these games as your guide, you’ll find yourself better equipped to face any challenge that comes your way as a team leader.

Playful learning, powerful results

Leadership games and leadership development activities aren’t just for corporate training rooms. They’re effective in various settings, regardless of your leadership philosophy or work style:

  • Classrooms: Help team members learn to develop teamwork, problem-solving, and communication strategies in a fun and interactive way
  • Human resources: Identify potential leaders, assess critical skills during interviews, and even onboard new employees with engaging activities
  • Crisis management: Help your teams return to work stronger after black swan events such as the COVID pandemic, and train teams to make quick decisions, communicate effectively, and stay calm under pressure through simulated scenarios

Use games to unlock leadership potential

Fun leadership games act as drills for refining crucial skills such as:

  • Decision-making: Helps you navigate complex work situations
  • Active listening: Empowers you to hear what others are saying and respond effectively
  • Empathy: Makes you understand and connect with your team members on a deeper level

Whether you’re an emerging leader or an experienced professional, these games can ignite your creativity, bolster your confidence, and equip you with the tools to navigate the leadership journey better.

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10 Leadership Games to Grow as a Leader

Ready to play leadership games with your team? Here’s a quick list to get you started. Get your game face on!

1. Leadership Race: Step up and prove your skills!

This fast-paced game reveals who has the mettle to tackle leadership challenges. Here’s how it works:

  1. Line up: Players stand shoulder-to-shoulder, ready to show their leadership styles and potential
  2. Trait-calling: A non-participant calls out a trait of successful leadership—such as innovation, communication, trustworthiness, resilience, ethics, emotional intelligence, proactiveness, and inspiration—based on the organization’s leadership criteria
  3. Explain and convince: Players who believe the trait applies to them step forward and explain why they think so
  4. Judge and repeat: A panel judges the explanations and if found valid, the player stays in the lineup; if not, they step back. The game proceeds with new traits
  5. The winner: The player with the most valid explanations and who remains in the lineup wins

This game is all about quick thinking, clear communication, and demonstrating your essential leadership skills and qualities. Even if you don’t win, you’ll hone your skills—making it a win for everyone!

2. Survival Showdown: Pick and choose!

The challenge: Imagine you’re stranded after a plane crash or lost at sea. What five essential items would you grab to survive? This game will help you hone your firefighting skills and teach you to navigate chaotic workplace situations smoothly.

The game:

  1. Form your team: The players form leadership groups and smaller crews
  2. Scenarios: The survival situation (such as a shipwreck or desert island) and the limited time available for choosing their items are announced
  3. Survival essentials: Each team huddles to strategize and pick their top five survival tools, fostering the skills of critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication under pressure
  4. Why it matters: Teams present their selection and explain their reasoning
  5. Leadership emerges: Leaders take charge, guide discussions, and advocate for their team’s best interests

Survival Showdown isn’t just about picking items; it’s about practicing leadership skills. Teams learn to think critically, solve problems, communicate effectively, and build consensus, gaining valuable experience in decision-making, teamwork, and leadership.

3. Just 99 Seconds: Can you make the call?

The objective of this fast-paced game is to sharpen your leadership skills under pressure.

The challenge: Each round presents a leadership crisis (such as a product flaw, a PR nightmare, or leakage of customer data). The player has 99 seconds to

  1. Decide: What’s your immediate action plan
  2. Prioritize: What’s most critical to address first
  3. Communicate: Clearly explain your decision and reasoning

Just 99 Seconds helps develop crucial leadership skills such as quick thinking, prioritization, clear communication, and the ability to stay calm and decisive under pressure.

4. Magic Carpet: Teamwork takes flight!

The challenge: Flip a rug together without stepping off!

The game:

  1. The group is divided into teams (the team size depends on the rug size)
  2. A large rug is spread out for each team to stand on
  3. Each team has to flip the rug to the other side, but they are not allowed to step off. One foot out and the team has to start over
  4. The first team to flip the rug wins the game

Leadership learnings flourish as teams learn to build interpersonal communication, collaboration, and confidence.

Magic Carpet also teaches employees to slow down, plan, and execute as a unit, think outside the box, and adopt strategies on the fly.

5. Marshmallow Mania: Teamwork builds towers!

The challenge: Build the tallest freestanding structure using only spaghetti, tape, string, marshmallows, and (optional) toothpicks.

The setup:

  1. Divide your team into small groups
  2. Gather the construction supplies
  3. Unleash your inner engineer: collaborate, strategize, and build the tallest structure you can
  4. Top it off: carefully place the marshmallow on your masterpiece
  5. Put a challenging time limit to add some adrenaline
  6. The team with the tallest, marshmallow-topped tower wins

Leadership lessons in Marshmallow Mania include collaboration (communicate, delegate tasks, and build together), creative thinking (break the mold and build beyond limits), and problem-solving (adapt, refine, and reach new heights of leadership excellence).

6. Silver Lining: Find the ray of light in every challenge!

The challenge: Flip the script on negativity! In pairs, share a past project experience with one positive and one negative aspect. Then swap roles and find the silver lining in each other’s stories.

The game:

  1. Grab a partner, preferably someone you’ve worked with on a project before
  2. Start (one person) sharing a project experience with a negative outcome
  3. Your partner becomes the ‘silver lining detective’ and has to find the positive aspects and hidden learnings in that experience
  4. Switch roles and repeat the process with your partner’s experience

Silver Lining fosters positivity, interpersonal skills, and team motivation, which are key to developing leadership skills. It builds empathy by letting you see things from different perspectives. Plus, the realization dawns—that learning from past experiences, even negative ones, is crucial for growth.

7. Human Knot: Untangle your team spirit!

The challenge: Can your team work together to untangle a human knot using only communication and teamwork?

The game:

  1. Gather your team in a small circle, making them stand shoulder-to-shoulder
  2. Reach across and grab someone’s right hand opposite to you in the circle
  3. Now reach with your left hand and grab another person’s left hand, but not that of someone next to you
  4. Begin untangling yourselves without breaking the chain
  5. Watch as leaders naturally step up to guide, strategize, and communicate the path to victory

Human Knot fosters team collaboration even if the participants are not familiar with each other. Leaders guide the others with clear and concise instructions, encouraging the participants to think creatively and build trust with each other.

8. Spot the Change: Sharpen your team’s observational skills!

The challenge: Can you spot the subtle changes in your teammates? This classic game tests your observation skills and teamwork.

The game:

  1. Form two lines to face each other
  2. Take a few minutes to observe your teammates standing across from you and memorize their appearance
  3. Turn around to block your view, and it’s now time for transformations
  4. Let your teammates in the opposite line discreetly change their appearance, such as their clothing, hairstyle, accessories, or glasses
  5. Turn around and begin working with your team to identify all the changes. There will be negative marking for any missed changes
  6. Swap roles—now it’s your turn to change appearances and test your teammates’ observation skills
  7. The team with the fewest points deducted wins the game

Spot the Change emphasizes the need for leaders to notice details—both big and small—as well as non-verbal cues. Retaining information is crucial for effective leadership and strategic planning. So, working together, sharing observations, and reaching consensus are key to winning the game.

9. Shark Tank: Company edition

The challenge: Pitch bold solutions to real company problems, win ‘investment’ from executive ‘sharks’, and unleash your inner intrapreneur!

The setup:

  • Sharks: Three executives form the jury that evaluates pitches made by the participants based on impact, feasibility, and cost
  • Time: Participants are allotted 60 minutes to research, craft, and rehearse a 3-minute pitch for a chosen company challenge
Participants can prepare a version of their business model canvas using ClickUp’s Project Scope Whiteboard Template

The game:

  1. Pitch time (3 minutes): Each participant presents their solution, highlighting the problem, impact, and benefits
  2. Q&A (5 minutes): The sharks dive deep into Q&A to discuss concerns and request clarifications in real time
  3. Swim or sink: The sharks defend their solution, address concerns, and reiterate its value
  4. Investment decision: The sharks deliberate privately and anonymously decide on the most promising solutions
  5. Boardroom feedback: The sharks provide constructive feedback, highlighting strengths, areas for improvement, and resource allocation details
  6. Collective learning: The sharks facilitate a group discussion to share key takeaways, analyze common themes, and discuss the next steps

With Shark Tank: Company Edition, players learn to collaborate on data-driven solutions. This exercise creates an engaged workforce that is empowered to drive innovation and solve company challenges.

10. Feedback Loop: Walk a mile in their shoes!

The challenge: Make your feedback game more interesting by experiencing it from the other side! This role-reversal leadership exercise builds empathy, improves communication skills, and teaches leaders to see things from different perspectives.

The setup:

  • Scenario bank: Create a document with pre-loaded real-life situations such as missed deadlines, project delays, team conflict, and poor work quality

The game:

  1. Pair up: Participants are divided into pairs
  2. Choose scenarios: Real-life work situations where constructive feedback could be given are selected from the document
  3. Roleplay the scene: Each pair acts out their assigned scenario, focusing on how feedback is usually delivered and received
  4. Flip roles: Managers give feedback as if they were employees, and employees provide feedback from a leadership perspective
  5. Create feedback forms: Forms are designed for anonymous feedback after each role-play, and responses are analyzed for actionable insights
  6. Close the loop: Tasks are created directly from the feedback forms, progress is tracked, and feedback translates into positive change

While playing Feedback Loop, stepping into one another’s shoes builds understanding and compassion. Leaders learn to appreciate employee perspectives while giving valuable feedback. Employees too feel confident and encouraged to express concerns and offer suggestions.

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Leadership Games for Employee Retention and Team Building

Leadership games and activities are not only fun and engaging, but they also pack a powerful punch when it comes to enhancing team dynamics and improving employee retention.

Impact of leadership games on team building

Leadership games help in breaking down departmental silos. They encourage employees to develop leadership skills and concepts further through team-building exercises where they learn to solve challenges and celebrate their wins.

Games like Feedback Loop, Shark Tank: Company Edition, and Human Knot are designed to spark and develop communication skills, problem-solving, and trust-building, along with lots of enjoyment and laughter!

These shared experiences forge lasting bonds and memories and bring fresh enthusiasm to your team, who learn to work together like a more focused and united group.

Leadership games boost the morale and spirit of your team leaders as well. Winning a challenge feels amazing and brings everyone closer., even if they have different leadership styles

Influence of leadership games on employee retention

Playing leadership games shows your employees that you care—about their professional growth, personal development, and workplace happiness. These games are a great way of boosting a positive work environment and reducing employee turnover.

Think about it: rather than a snooze-fest of a lecture on communication, a role-playing game where everyone gets to participate sounds so much more engaging!

Games combat boredom and monotony and ensure your employees stay excited and motivated. This sends a clear message that says, “We want you to succeed and have fun doing it!”

If you thought teamwork quotes were great at helping you motivate your team, leadership games will only take the inspiration a notch higher!

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Developing and Improving Your Leadership Skills with ClickUp

Being a great leader is a constant juggling act. Deadlines loom large, team members need attention, and strategic planning pulls you in multiple directions. How do you tame the cognitive overload?

It’s simple: use ClickUp!

ClickUp’s project management features
Bring teams together and manage work using ClickUp’s project management features

Think of ClickUp’s project management features as your personalized leadership command center. It’s not just about managing or delegating tasks; it’s about increasing your self-awareness as an effective leader too. Here’s how you can do this:

1. Simplifying team communication

  • Ditch the email chaos: Keep your team aligned with Chat in ClickUp and have discussions with your team within your workspace, minus the distraction to and fro of email updates
  • Transparency is key: Use ClickUp Docs to document and organize information for your team to refer to readily. Share them and make changes to them in real-time along with all your team members, thanks to collaborative editing features
ClickUp Docs
Collaboratively create and edit documents in real time via ClickUp Docs
Use ClickUp’s Employee Feedback Template to gather feedback from employees

2. Mastering the art of delegation

  • Delegate like a pro: Assign tasks with clear instructions, deadlines, and priorities using ClickUp Tasks
  • Empower your team: Give them ownership of their projects and track their progress using ClickUp Dashboards. It will help you allocate resources based on your team’s experience and gather insights for better decision-making
  • Celebrate wins together: Use @mentions to recognize individual and team achievements. It’s like giving your team a virtual high-five that strengthens their spirit and keeps everyone engaged
ClickUp Dashboard
Gain high-level overviews of your work via customizable ClickUp Dashboards

3. Leveling up your organization skills

  • Plan like a champion: Create comprehensive leadership development plans with ClickUp Goals, breaking down significant objectives into actionable steps
  • Never miss an event: Schedule meetings set reminders, and manage your calendar seamlessly within the ClickUp Calendar view, as it helps you stay organized and on top of your tasks
ClickUp Calendar view
Visualize your team’s work and plan timelines using the ClickUp Calendar view

ClickUp isn’t just a tool; it’s your partner in leadership growth. So ditch the spreadsheets and outdated methods and embrace the power of ClickUp to unlock your full leadership potential!

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Leadership games—more than just fun and games

There’s more to leadership games than evaluating shark tank pitches and building marshmallow towers (although, let’s be honest, those are pretty fun too).

The real takeaway is that these games are an enjoyable way to exercise essential skills like communication, problem-solving, and collaboration in your leadership training journey.

Here’s why you should champion more leadership games in your team:

  • They break down barriers: Games create a level playing field where executives with diverse management styles can participate and shine, regardless of seniority or personality
  • They spark creativity and innovation: Games encourage creative thinking and coming up with innovative solutions
  • They’re plain fun: Since people love playing games, having an engaging atmosphere at the workplace improves employee morale and boosts team spirit

Moreover, leadership games aren’t just for team benefits; they have a ripple effect that impacts your entire organization and its ecosystem.

Your investors, clients, and stakeholders rely on strong and united team leaders.

  • Investors feel confident knowing their investment is backed by a collaborative, innovative team
  • Clients appreciate working with a well-coordinated team that delivers consistent results
  • Stakeholders trust a team that tackles challenges head-on with effective communication and problem-solving skills

So, consider leadership games as an investment in your team’s success, which ultimately translates into the success of your entire organization.

The next time you want to boost your team’s skills and morale, skip the boring lecture and grab some rugs and marshmallows!

And while you’re at it, use ClickUp’s features to manage things better.

Ready to hone your leadership skills? Start your free ClickUp trial today!

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Common FAQs

1. What are leadership games?

Leadership games involve interactive activities to develop essential skills like communication, problem-solving, and collaboration. They’re a powerful tool for building stronger, more successful teams.

2. What are situational leadership activities?

Situational leadership activities focus on adapting game experiences to each individual’s skill level and needs. These activities help future leaders hone their ability to flex their leadership style and support each team member at their unique development stage.

3. What is the 30 Seconds Left leadership game?

While the specific details of 30 Seconds Left may vary, one version of the game involves encouraging participants to share their favorite memory and then choose a specific 30-second moment from that memory to share with the group.

This activity aims to encourage clear communication, encourage participants, and promote emotional expression.

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