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Energiser: Game or Challenge to include in a Leadership Development module


Hi all,

I'm looking for a game or challenge to include in a Leadership Development day. In the first module the delegates built towers of clothes pegs (over 3 iterations throughout the day, with less available time during each iteration) with a prize for the overall winner at the end of the day.

I'm now working on the 2nd module and I need a similar challenge, ideally something that can be run multiple times. The topics of the day include Communication and Team Roles so if you can tie it back to that - all the better.

Thanks for your help.....

5 Responses

  1. Collaboration?

    I would have suggested something that involved iterative collaboration.

    Normally, I get groups to build towers from straws or perhaps even balloons.

    Phase 1 is to work in threes with no speaking or written communication. The groups’ towers are compared.

    Phase 2 is to extend the towers with speaking allowed. Greatly reduced time, followed by comparison and a prize if you like.

    Phase 3 is for all the groups to combine their towers into a single structure.

    The overall metaphor is of developing a ‘group mind’, of looking for patterns, of understanding collaboration,

    The offer of a prize introduces a level of competition. An alternative is that you compare competitive and non-competitive exercises. One that I used to do a lot, and which I included in one of my books for trainers, was this:

    Part 1: Everyone has 5 minutes to learn to juggle.

    Part 2: Everyone has 5 minutes to make a paper aeroplane. There will be a prize for the best and a penalty for the worst.

    In part 1 you see spontaneous collaboration; talking, laughing, helping, breaking the task down into manageable pieces, seeking of role models, teaching. The group output is generative with emergent behaviour that supports the process.

    In part 2, you get silence, secrecy, sneaking peeks, deliberate misdirection. The group output drops to below that of the highest performer, with emergent behaviour driving down performance overall. Some people just give up, even the ones who think they will win become concerned about what their competitors are doing.

    I guess that overall it’s about the purpose you’re trying to achieve. If you just want them to get to know each other, put £100 behind the bar….

  2. Make the Tallest Tower Training Exercise

    There are many exercies on this kind of need. They mainly consist of making some structure and are setup to be challening so a team needs to work together to solve the "puzzle".

    An example is Make the Tallest Tower Training Exercise.

    Look at the the section for similar exercises to this on the same page for other types of exercises on this topic.

    Hope this helps

    Ehsan Honary


  3. Lego tower building exercise etc

    There are full instructions here  for the Lego exercise and how to extract the most learning from it. One interesting twist is that it is not a competition, but every time I have run it, or heard about it being run, people assume it is. There is much learning here!

    You might also consider doing some strength building. This gives people insights into their own and their colleagues unique strengths. The exercise is here If you need to focus it particularly on leadership, just change the verb "achieve" to "lead" in the first two paragraphs of the instructions. It should work well.

    Nick Heap



  4. Survival Games

    If you are looking at communication and team roles then I would suggest a survival simulation game.

    Select one person (or two if its a big group) to be observers.

    Give the remainer of the group the survival simulation exercise (there’s plenty on the web but if you need some examples please feel free to email me).

    Explain the rules and set a comfortabe time limit to complete the exercise (you dont want to rush this).

    Brief the observer(s) to look for 1) the natural roles that different people assumed (eg the chairman, the driver, the facilitator etc) and 2) the behaviours that supported or impeded the groups progress.

    Debrief the group with the observers (and you own) feedback. Themes to explore could include 1) how its necessary to have a balanced mix of different approaches (team roles) in order for the group to function properly and 2) how certain behaviours can either support or disrupt communication and progress.

    I use this in leadership development workshops and it always generates good discussion around how to approach communication and the importance of collaborating with and drawing on different peoples capabilities. Also beyond the lessons learned the exercise can generate self-awareness and provide useful development points for individuals.

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William Finn

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