The 7 best experiential leadership activities

25 February 2022

These leadership development activities simulate challenges that new and experienced leaders may encounter, in a fun and thought-provoking context. 

In this article, we’ll highlight the best leadership activities in the MTa range. These are activities that you can run yourself: powerful tools for leadership training sessions and workshops, whether in person or virtual.

Don’t just teach people about leadership, give them an opportunity to develop the behaviours that will enable them to become better leaders.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Hoist from MTa Insights

Each of the three stages has its own learning opportunities:

  1. Goal Focus: Identifying and focussing on the end goal, achieving the goal through team working
  2. Instructing others: giving and receiving information
  3. Motivating: The impact of involvement on personal motivation, understanding success

This activity begins with a focus on emergent leadership within teams and then shifts towards developing and delivering instructions to enable the second group of workers to achieve a task.

This leadership activity works well indoors or outdoors and can be used as a standalone activity or as part of a wider program. 

Waste Away from MTa Insights

Each of the three stages has its own learning opportunities:

  1. Leading a team in situ
  2. Leading through others: Taking time to re-evaluate with new information; preparing others to instruct and lead on your behalf
  3. Applied leadership: An opportunity to build on individual learning from previous stages

Waste Away begins with leaders being tasked with getting teams to perform a challenging task. Things change and a new leader is nominated in their place. As roles change, responsibilities shift and must be delegated.

This activity is designed especially for supervisors and managers who have to work through others and explores the unique challenges to this situation.

This leadership activity works indoors or outdoors and requires an area big enough to accommodate both teams for combined discussions.

Led Jigsaw from MTa Insights

Leadership skills explored:

  • Leadership fundamentals: delegating, coordinating and objective setting
  • Capitalising on diversity: Leading a team in which each individual brings something unique and vital

In stage 1, the leader must work to co-ordinate 4 individual tasks, but only they have the big picture. Will they get sucked into the detail, or will they empower their team?

In stage 2 the team come together and are tasked with collaborating effectively. Can the leader successfully coordinate their team and how will they cope with the inevitable setbacks?

Learn more about MTa Insights here.

Promises, Promises from MTa Mini

Leadership skills explored: 

  • The impact of different constraints on leaders and teams
  • Leading different teams with different needs at the same time
  • Identifying key organisational issues and allocating resources appropriately
  • The impact of making commitments on behalf of others, without their consent
  • Managing changing situations
  • The importance of understanding and satisfying customers’ needs
  • Effective communication between leaders and teams, teams and leaders, and suppliers and customers

In this activity, you must lead a complex team whose members are working on different parts of a task, in different locations, and with different constraints. 

The scenario involves product design and production, branding, and resource management. All while customers make demands under increasingly pressured conditions.

This table-top activity is designed for indoor use and targeted towards people who already have some leadership experience and are looking to improve.

Learn more about MTa Mini here.

MTa The Culprit

Leadership skills explored: 

  • Learning about the impact of personal style when working with others
  • Giving and receiving feedback 
  • Offering others guidance
  • Working in an open, honest and trusting environment
  • Practising and developing team skills in a problem-solving situation

In The Culprit, each team is given two tasks: to solve a murder mystery and to identify solo players, i.e. those who are working to their own, secret objectives rather than those of the team.

Dedicated ‘Internal Investigations’ provide a light-hearted but powerful arena for direct, non-threatening feedback. In this context participants are able to practice and reflect upon the feedback process, leading to learning outcomes directly applicable in professional settings.

This is a great exercise for helping individuals in teams to develop leadership skills. The Culprit is also available on MTa Immersion, our ground-breaking new online experiential learning platform.

Learn more about MTa The Culprit here.

The Trailer from MTa Team Kit

Leadership skills explored:

  • Understanding when and how to make the most of everyone’s skills and knowledge
  • The importance of taking personal responsibility 

In this leadership activity two teams, designers and builders, are working on different parts of the same project. At first they work separately, but are later allowed to work in the same location.

Participants are given opportunities to reflect on their personal style, their approach to work, and how these factors influence working relationships. 

This activity is ideal for leaders who are familiar with the fundamentals and who are looking to practice more advanced concepts. The kit lends itself equally well to indoor or outdoor use. It has been designed to operate as a standalone activity or to form part of a larger leadership workshop.

The Frame from MTa Team Kit

Leadership skills explored:

  • Considering others’ needs
  • The importance of keeping the bigger picture in mind
  • How individuals’ best endeavours can be misinterpreted
  • Developing and maintaining trust
  • Testing assumptions (misinterpreting individuals’ actions)
  • Weighing company objectives against departmental ones

The Frame shares similarities with The Trailer, in that two groups – instructors and constructors, in this case – are working on different parts of the same project.

However the content of the activities varies: here, instructors have precise information that the constructors need, and the two must overcome real and perceived constraints that make the transfer of this information a challenge.

This leadership activity can be used as a standalone or as part of a leadership workshop. Because of the shared aspects, this activity can work well in the same program as The Trailer. We recommend running The Frame first as it deals with less advanced concepts.

Learn more about the MTa Team Kit here.

What are leadership activities? 

Leadership activities are those designed to enable participants to practice and develop key attributes required for effective leadership.

Depending on their level of challenge, leadership activities can be a useful way for people with little to no experience to begin exploring these competencies, or for people with knowledge and experience of the fundamentals to refine specific aspects of their leadership. 

Leadership activities explore concepts like:

  • The impact of personal style 
  • Giving and receiving feedback 
  • Creating an open and honest environment 
  • The impact of constraints 
  • Leading teams with different needs 
  • Allocating resources 
  • Managing changing situations 
  • Taking personal responsibility 
  • Testing assumptions 
  • Re-evaluating situations with new information
  • And many more

Because the role of a leader is complex and always in demand, leadership activities are a popular way to achieve meaningful and lasting behavioural change that can be applied in real-world situations.

Conclusion

This article has showcased 7 leadership activity examples from our range. These activities span from introductory to advanced competency and cover a significant number of leadership concepts.

Leadership skills are always in demand, and the ability to lead effectively will equip an individual with what they need to make a positive impact in their company, and on their career.

Our activities and training sessions are built on a bedrock of psychological theory and years of experience. Each leadership activity in our range has been refined over time to distil insights and theoretical developments.

If you’d like to discuss which leadership activities would best fit your needs, get in touch with our team. We’re always happy to help.