Teen leadership activities are essential to help older kids reach their personal goals and keep them motivated, accountable, and confident. A special emphasis on leadership training can make kids develop outside of school environments and get them out of their comfort zones, where they'll experience the most personal growth.
What Are Leadership Activities?
Activities for leadership training focus on tasks and games that develop various skills that target planning, management, delegation, conflict resolution, awareness, critical thinking, productive communication, and responsibility. Encouragement activities for kids provide the opportunity to practice and improve these skills, to demonstrate leadership in a controlled environment.
What Are Leadership Activities for Teens Used for?
While the phrase "be born a leader" is used to describe kids with innate leadership capabilities, management for teens can develop the qualities and abilities needed to be influential future leaders. By harnessing leadership, a child improves honesty, dedication, listening skills, and a positive outlook.
Older kids have plenty of opportunities to practice leadership in everyday life; however, allowing them to partake in leadership lessons for youth is meant to hone in and fast-track the acquisition of these valuable skills. Creating a meaningful life requires engaging, influencing, becoming responsible community members, and being good at whatever they choose.
Leadership exercises for youth can improve the following:
- Motivation: Being inspired to put in more effort to achieve tasks and goals;
- Self-esteem: Having more confidence in one's ability;
- Delegation: Assessing skills and assigning roles;
- Responsibility: Self-reflecting and being open to feedback;
- Trustworthiness: Demonstrating integrity and building trust;
- Commitment: Keeping promises and following through;
- Flexibility: Accepting and adapting to change;
- Creativity: Developing non-traditional approaches.
9 Leadership Games for Teenagers
The following youth leadership training activities are fun and help teens increase self-awareness, coordination, self-compassion, alertness, kindness, calmness, and strategic thinking. At Hot Ground Gym, we've witnessed how youth leadership activity games inspire teenagers to confidently take control of their lives.
In a progressively connected world, kids must learn how to communicate effectively, negotiate, and resolve conflicts to promote sustainable and stable personal and work relationships. Kids should know how to delegate and collaborate with others, listen attentively, and demonstrate integrity. These leadership activity examples offer pragmatic ways to evolve leadership skills in teenagers.
#1 Community Bingo
- Overview: Kids can play this leadership game with 2 to twenty players. The goal is to meet four community leaders who complete a row on their bingo cards.
- Preparations: The game works better if you use a variety of businesses, elected officials, and community figureheads within a 15-minute walk of your location. Discuss with prominent community members about their open hours and willingness to participate.
- Gameplay: Each player goes into the community to find people who fit the description listed on their bingo cards. They must collect a business card or take a photo with that individual as proof. Once a player has met four community members who complete a row on the bingo card, they return to the designated meeting spot. Every participant who gets a 'bingo' wins.
- Results: In addition to teaching basic reasoning skills, community bingo helps kids build networking skills (communication skills) and gain confidence in meeting new people, especially if they've recently joined an extracurricular class.
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#2 Get Off the Couch
- Overview: Everyone is motivated to do things for different reasons. In this game, the leader must discover what inspires each member to get off the couch to complete an undesirable task.
- Preparations: You will also need a 30-second timer and a designated area where all but one teen can sit. In addition, you should have a table with objects that denote common motivations, such as food, money, video games, clothes, or family photos.
- Gameplay: The leaders choose one 'motivator' at a time to persuade each team member to stand up and complete a task. If the leader succeeds in getting the whole team off the couch within the set time limit, everyone wins. If not, a new leader is chosen, and the process begins again.
- Results: Leadership training activities for youth like this teach children how people are induced by different things.
#3 Tag Team Snack Challenge
- Overview: This small group game involves three to five players building a snack without verbally communicating. The players take turns leading the team by leaving clues for the next person about what the designated snack might be.
- Preparations: Several food items to make specific snacks will be needed, as well as a timer. Organize all the food on a pantry table. Students should be instructed to develop a nonverbal strategy for communicating their intentions. Tell your starting player in secret what snack you want them to prepare.
- Gameplay: The first person starts making the designated snack. After 30 seconds, they must exit the cooking area; the next team member takes over, and so on. The last player is responsible for plating the finished dish. The team wins if they create the correct snack.
- Results: With high pressure and limited conversation, this game teaches kids deduction and organizational skills on the fly, as well as how to work together to meet deadlines.
#4 Leaders You Admire
- Overview: This discussion-based game can be played in big or small groups. Players take turns discussing leaders they admire and what advice they think they would give them.
- Preparations: Give players a minute or two to think about the leaders they admire and their qualities. To make it easier, give kids a pen and paper to write down key points so they can remember.
- Gameplay: Go around the circle and ask each child to present their leader's advice.
- Results: You'll find similar and contradicting statements, which allows for discussing different leadership styles and common characteristics that make good leaders. With these youth leadership development activities, kids learn many leadership styles.
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#5 Round Tables
- Overview: This simple game consists of four tables with different activities. Four groups compete against each other to see who can compete for their activity first.
- Preparations: You'll need four tables, different areas, a range of activities, and a timer. The activities can be puzzles, mix-and-match activities, etc., so long as the tasks have a series of steps.
- Gameplay: Time each table to see how long teams take to complete the task. The winning team completes the tasks the fastest.
- Results: This is an ideal activity to develop stewardship, especially for kids who won't naturally take on a leadership role.
#6 Leadership Values
- Overview: Similar to Leaders You Admire, Leadership Values is a suitable exercise to make teenagers do at the beginning or end of an activity-driven day. It's also great for families to play at the dinner table too.
- Preparation: Paper and pens for each participant.
- Gameplay: The game starts with explaining the importance of leadership behaviors and values. Participants reflect on the values they believe define a good leader. Then everyone has to individually circle five values on a paper provided to them that best completes the sentence: "_______" is an important leadership quality. You can create a list of teenage leadership examples like honesty, trust, patience, self-respect, etc. Once teenagers circled individual qualities, then have the group compare and discuss, asking for specific real-life examples where these qualities are applicable.
- Results: This helps teenagers create links between leadership qualities and real-life behavior. It's great to get them thinking about how leadership is present in everyday life.
- Overview: This exercise helps kids think about their daily roles and is suitable for children of all ages so long as they can read and write.
- Preparation: You only need some pens and paper.
- Gameplay: Get kids to write down words that come to mind when they think of specific roles — for example, sister, student, sports captain, etc. The keywords should reflect how they perceive themselves performing each role. Once they've finished writing down their keywords, kids should share why they see themselves that way and explain the activities associated with their roles. They can then use the keywords to write a leadership statement that reflects their approach to good leadership. You can also play a variation of this by providing each participant with a chart that prompts them to write characteristics under the following headings; problem solver, motivator, visionary, risk-taker expert, etc.
- Results: Like some of the other games on this list, Keywords encourages kids to reflect on the roles they play and develop their definitions of what they believe is a good leader.
- Overview: Minefield is a physical game that combines strategy and motivation leadership skills. For this activity, teenagers cautiously examine a minefield without stepping on "mines."
- Preparation: You will need large objects for the "mines" and blindfolds. Carefully place the objects around the room, leaving enough space for players to walk between and around.
- Gameplay: The game starts with teams memorizing "mines" - objects scattered around an open space or field. After which, they're blindfolded and have to navigate the minefield together. If group members step on a mine, the team has to go back to the start line and start again. A variation of this game can be played by two-player teams, whereby one member is blindfolded, and the other has to direct them through the space. How you play depends on the number of kids and their ages, as younger teens may be better with two-player teams than a large group, which can get rowdy quickly.
- Results: This fun-filled activity game fosters communication and collaboration as members must plan how to move across the space. Minefield also enhances memory and cultivates camaraderie among teens as they work together to reach a common objective.
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#9 Goal Pyramid
- Overview: The goal of this group game is to complete a series of steps that culminate in players building a cup pyramid. The number of players can range from five to thirty.
- Preparation: You needed to provide six plastic cups and a marker per player. All cups should be stacked at one end of an empty room.
- Gameplay: To begin, all players stand in a line at the other end of the room (the end without cups). Each player runs to the other end of the room and grabs a cup. Each player writes a specific goal on their cup. The players leave their cups on the ground and run to the cup area to take another cup. Upon returning to their 'area,' players write another step they plan to take to achieve their goal. They continue in this fashion until they have five steps and one goal written on separate cups. They must then stack their cups into a pyramid with the goal on top and wait for the rest of the group to finish—all players who create their pyramid and keep it from falling over, win.
- Results: This game sounds simple, but it becomes much more challenging once you have a large group of teens running around. As people run by, they may lose their markers, need help coming up with enough steps, or accidentally knock over other people's pyramids. In this game, kids learn problem-solving and goal-setting skills.
Some More Leadership Games for Teens
Here are some more leadership exercises for youth that offer character development without the kids realizing they are engaged in learning to be a leader.
#1 A New You
Give children materials such as text, crayons, poster/construction paper, magazines, and scissors. Next, ask them to create a poster of themselves that clearly shows it's their picture - such as cutouts of their favorite things to do, foods they enjoy, pets, and anything else that makes them unique. Once done, they can use their posters as a visual aid to introduce themselves to the group. The intention is to improve self-confidence by speaking in front of a group.
#2 Same and Different
Get children to sit in a circle. The first child should point to another group member in the circle who is similar to them, either in appearance, hairstyle, or clothing color. Ask the child to note other similarities and differences between them and their chosen child. Leadership games for youth like this one promote belonging and celebrate diversity.
#3 Egg Movers
Have the children form groups of four or five and designate one leader for each team. Give each participant a spoon and an egg. The leader must then devise an effective way to move the eggs from one point to another, such as forming a line to pass the eggs along. Alternatively, the team can forego the spoons and run for it! The group with the most creative way of safely getting their egg across the finish line is the winner.
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#4 Stay on the Carpet
Give the group a small tarp or rug that can fit all the workshop participants inside its edges. Explain that the task is to flip the carpet or tarp over without anyone stepping off it. If someone does step off, the team will have to start over. These types of teen leadership games are excellent for team building.
Leadership Styles and Activities to Determine Them
There are many different leadership styles, but the most commonly identified are autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire.
- Autocratic: Autocratic leaders rely solely on their authority to make decisions without consulting the group. They expect total obedience from those under their command and are not open to democratic participation in decision-making. Such leaders understand the power of their authority and use it to their advantage.
- Democratic: These leaders promote an environment of open communication and collaboration, where each team member is appriciated for their unique voice and expertise. They act as a spokesperson for the group and encourage participation from everyone, sharing the freedoms and responsibilities of leadership with all team members.
- Laissez-faire: Leaders who practice a laissez-faire management style avoid getting involved in day-to-day tasks. Instead, they provide duties and general direction while trusting their employees to find their way to complete the required tasks. These leaders believe their employees will remain motivated and accountable and only offer guidance when asked. As a result, each team member is allowed to succeed or fail based on their capabilities.
The First Activity
Provide a list of 10-12 scenarios that exhibit the three leadership styles. For instance, consider a scenario where a new sports coach is in charge of training and immediately starts by telling the team what change needs to do.
When some suggestions are made, the coach tells them he does not have time to consider them. Ask the group to determine which leadership style is exhibited in each scenario and to discuss whether it is effective or another technique would be more beneficial.
This leadership activity for youth encourages the participants to reflect on how they would react if they were in the same situation.
The Second Activity
Invite participants to think about the statement, 'Consider a time when you, or another leader, used the authoritarian (autocratic), participative (democratic) style of leadership.'
Ask them to reflect on the effectiveness of the style in question and if a different one would have been more successful. Get them to consider the impact it had on the group and what, if anything, they learned from it.
Prompt discussion about which style is easiest to use, or have them nominate their preferred style and why. When everyone is finished, bring the group together to share their insights on youth leadership ideas.
4 Ways Leaders Approach Tasks: Leaders Motivation
When teaching leadership skills to the youth, it's essential to be aware of the four ways leaders approach tasks so you can help teenagers identify their leadership style and improve their awareness as a facilitator.
- Will do: Does what others desire with a positive attitude.
- Get to: Does what they desire with a positive attitude.
- Have to: Does what others desire with a negative attitude.
- Must do: Does what they desire with a negative attitude.
Most people will fluctuate between these motivations, depending on the task, their capabilities, enjoyment, and context. Talking about leaders' attitudes can springboard a healthy discussion about group dynamics and leadership skills.
Youth leadership games and activities encourage teens to communicate with classmates in person, accomplish collective goals and improve emotional intelligence. No matter what grade, teens can engage in age-appropriate games that help them learn more about themselves and others.
Hot Ground Gym team-building activities and leadership games for middle schoolers and teens in high school are developed to help increase student leaders. We run several camps throughout the year and dynamic weekly classes for kids of all ages to build physical strength and character. Find out how to enroll your teen by contacting us today!
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