Leadership Workshop Ideas to Build a Strong Team

Nelson Joyce
April 16, 2019

Getting to the top of the corporate ladder is a major accomplishment; it’s one that requires an ongoing commitment to personal and professional growth. It’s a step-by-step process that doesn’t happen overnight, but instead takes place over months and years.

The problem is that some leaders stop worrying about growth after they reach the top. Instead, they feel complacent in their role and comfortable with where they are, but that’s exactly the wrong attitude. The best leaders continue to invest in their development and in their connections to others.

Worse yet, many companies place little emphasis on leadership development—only 5% of businesses have implemented inclusive leadership development opportunities, according to the Brandon Hall Research Group. This inattention to developing one’s leaders allows leaders to stagnate. Furthermore, it overlooks an opportunity to build an even stronger group and team.

Strong leaders in the workplace are critical for a company to not just survive but thrive, and that requires constant evolution and improvement. Leaders who don’t continually work toward becoming stronger and better, fail.

One of the best ways your company can set up leaders for success is through team building activities. With the right activities, individuals become better at leading, and the group gets better at working in sync.

Why Invest in Leadership Development and Team Building?

Investing in your team helps the group stay together through good times and bad. A strong sense of community (great coworkers, celebrating milestones, and a common mission) can keep employees at your company longer. According to Gusto, 54 percent of employees would remain past their best interest for a strong sense of community. Considering how time-intensive and costly it is to replace an employee, companies derive huge value from retaining people for as long as they can.

To create that sense of community and culture, you need to start by building a strong leadership team. This means opening up communication, creating collaboration opportunities, and building relationships in and out of the office. If you do this, you’ll discover a myriad of benefits.

  • Companies that communicate effectively are 4.5 times more likely to retain their best employees.
  • You’ll have better project results. Salesforce reported that 97% of business people and educators blame lack of alignment within teams for adversely affecting project results.
  • 50% of the positive changes in communication patterns within the workplace can be accredited to social interaction outside of the workplace, according to Keka.

These outcomes help your team thrive from a macro perspective. Ie the entire company grows stronger when you invest in the connections between people. Additionally, you can expect to see individual growth among the members of your team.  Leadership activities like the ones we include here can help:

  • Improve confidence, skill development, and motivation among your leadership team members.
  • Encourage your leaders to practice introspection, observing their good qualities, flaws, and own behavior; this commitment to self-awareness helps everyone grow, personally and professionally.
  • Enhance the bond between team members, increasing trust and improving effective communication.

Unfortunately, while 75% of employers rate collaboration and teamwork as “very important” according to research by Queens University of Charlotte, 4 in 10 employees say that collaboration isn’t happening enough in their organizations. To make a difference in your organization, you need to begin by implementing leadership activities and workshops inside and outside the office.

Carve out time to invest in team building with some tried and true workshops. We’ve collected five of our favorite leadership workshop and activity ideas that you can start implementing today.

1. Explore Your Goals

Explore your goals is a group exercise for thinking about the goals that are most vital to your organization and its success. These goals should form the basis of what your company wants to accomplish over the next six months or year. The goal is to provide clarity around what’s most important to your business and to get everyone on the same page.

This activity helps everyone on the leadership team engage around the same goals. 90 percent of leaders think an engagement strategy is important for business success, but Forbes reveals that only 25% of them actually have a strategy. Try using our SMART Goal Template or Simple Strategic Plan Template, (or even try out both!) These will help ensure you have an overall organizational strategy that people can engage with every day to guide their work. Simply give your leaders an hour to fill out the framework with the specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-related goals that they think make the most sense for the team.

2. Leadership Value Chain

This is a simple but effective game that allows you to encourage self-confidence and sharing among your leadership team. It works by encouraging people to share their leadership behaviors, so you can see which employees stand out from the crowd. The goal is to help your leaders get to know themselves and each other better. It will also help you determine which leaders have the potential to become great, while also helping you personalize future leadership tasks and roles based on each leader’s skills.

The activity is simple. Start by asking everyone to write out a list of ten to twenty leadership qualities. You can do this together on a whiteboard or ask people to jot a few down on a sheet of paper. For example, “A good leader is responsible for what’s going on within and without my team,” or “I never blame others for problems I have.”

Then, ask all of your leaders to stand in a line while one person reads through the list. Ask people to take a step forward if they hear a statement that applies to them. If they step forward, they have to be prepared to provide a concrete example of how they possess those qualities.

3. The Survival Game

This team-based game encourages your leadership team to create solid strategies for group success. The idea is to give them opportunities to practice their critical thinking, creative thinking, and problem-solving skills in a fun and interesting way. It will get your leaders working together toward a common goal and help demonstrate the various strengths of each team member while also building camaraderie.

To play the game, divide your leaders into teams of four people and present a life-threatening situation. For example, their plane crashed, and they have to survive with just five items. Give them 20 minutes to come up with the five items they’d like to have. Ask them to use the DACI framework to find the best solution. Then ask each team to describe the pros and cons of their decisions, the risks, and the estimated costs.

This activity helps them grow accustomed to the DACI framework in a “low-stakes” (well, at least a fictitious!) situation, such that they can deploy it in higher-stakes business contexts later on. By using the DACI framework for their decision-making, you ensure that your leaders clearly lay out who is involved in what element of survival and how they’ll contribute. You also ensure that they think through their decisions, removing ambiguity, and ensuring the hard decisions are made without endless discussions.

4. Product/Service Battle

Another idea for an activity is to test your leadership team’s knowledge of your products and services. This is a great way to ensure your leadership gets to know what you offer compared to your competitors and knows how to sell your product/services, even if they are not part of the sales team.

For this activity, you can download our Competitive Battlecard template and our Product Positioning template before dividing your leaders into two teams. Then, give each team a separate product/service and ask them to position that product against your competitors and each other. They’ll need to compare strengths and weaknesses and come up with an honest assessment. In the end, you should have ideas for improving your products and services, and your leadership team should have a better understanding of how your company stands out in the marketplace.

5. Minefield

A strong leadership team is one that trusts each other, and that’s what the minefield activity is all about. The goal is to teach your leadership team to rely on each other with verbal guidance to safely avoid touching mines as they make it to the finish line. The game improves communication skills and promotes cooperation and trust among your leadership team.

To play the game, create a 10’ x 10’ area on the ground with rope or tape. Mark one side as the starting line and the other as the finish. Then, create obstacles throughout the course using tennis balls or pieces of paper (30 obstacles total) and make sure there is no straight path. Finally, divide your leadership team into pairs and blindfold one person while requiring the other to talk them through the minefield without touching them.

How to Run a Successful Leadership Workshop

Beyond the “what”, ie the workshop activities you run, it’s important to consider the “how” and the messaging. Communicate, in advance, why you’re taking time out of people’s busy schedules to run your workshop. Document the goals somewhere accessible like Tettra.

Also, jot down what you expect from the team. For example, you might expect/ask that people come to these activities with an open mind and a positive attitude. You might also clarify that you want to create a safe space, such that anything people share or discuss during the workshop stays in the room. Though these may seem like no-brainers, it never hurts to state these expectations explicitly, so that everyone is comfortable.

After the workshop ends, document your work, so people can continue to get value from the activities in which they participated. If you’ve created Competitive Battlecards or a set of OKRs, for instance, make sure people can refer back to them when they need. Set up a Tettra page to document what you accomplished during your leadership retreat and link to or embed the goals and data you gathered.

Investing in Your Leadership Team

Creating a strong, exceptional leadership team is something that you have to continually work towards. These five leadership activities can help your team develop new skills, better understand your company, and build deeper relationships with each other, all of which are essential to the health of your organization. Just remember to be creative and mix up your activities on a regular basis to keep your leadership team engaged.