Through an art inspired activity, the participants practice four situational leadership styles.
- To practice using the four main leadership styles.
- To develop an ability to show off one’s leadership style and use different styles.
- Hands-on art activity
- Attached document, one for each group leader
- Scissors (two pairs per group)
- Green paper “Sparkles”
A room large enough to accommodate four groups of 4 to 6 people for role play.
The leadership models covered in this event have been used in different workshops at all levels to help leaders identify their preferred styles of leading. The aim is to encourage people to develop flexibility so they can alter their styles to the needs of those they are leading or to the circumstances.
Step by Step Instructions
- Introduce the topic by explaining that flexibility, is a critical leadership trait, and the second skill covered in this activity.
According to research data, 54% of leaders tend to use only one leadership style; 35% use two styles; 10% use three styles; and only 1% are able to use all four styles. As a leader, you will need to develop the pliability necessary to effectively meet the needs of those you lead. What do you think is the score on your ability to be flexible?
- Discuss the participants’ leadership styles before trying the simulation exercise. Say, “Think of a time when you led someone and were clearly not flexible in terms of providing the appropriate style for her/his needs. What happened?” (Discuss their responses.) “Now think about the people you manage. With whom do you tend to use your primary style? Your secondary style?” Discuss. “Which style(s) do you need to develop?”
- Introduce the simulation by distributing the attached document titled Let’s Mould Snowflakes. The purpose of this activity is to give participants an opportunity to imitate the behavior of leaders and followers who work in the city’s public works department.
Your workgroup has been charged by the Public Works Director with producing artificial snow because the lack of natural snow will spoil the upcoming Christmas Fest.
Tell participants, “I have selected a leader for each of four groups: ______ , ______ , ______ , and ______ . Our department quality inspection engineer will be ______ (the facilitator, an extra participant, or a guest). While I talk with them, I want a volunteer to collect a dollar from each of you.
Just like real life, this is a competition between teams. The prize will go to the winning team. I also want to talk about the lousy warm fall weather we’ve been having.”
Take the leaders aside and give them their style descriptions, as listed on the handout. Caution them not to reveal the assigned style to their followers.
- Give additional instructions to the group. Pass out scissors and paper, and restate the goal which is to see which team will be able to produce the most snowflakes. The winning team will win the prize money. Remind everyone that there are two phases: planning and production. The planning phase will take about 15 minutes, followed by the judging of designs. Allow 15 more minutes to produce as many snowflakes as you can in that period of time.
- Begin the planning phase with these instructions: “Your workgroup has 10 minutes to develop a snowflake design that all members of the team can agree on. You will submit your design for approval to our Quality Assurance Engineer, who is ______ .”
Visit each team and silently listen to what they are discussing. Answer any questions they have, and remind them of how much time is left before judging begins.
- When time is up, have the leaders deliver their designs for inspection. Give marks according to the criteria, and give $4 as a reward to the team that comes up with the best design.
Judging is based on:
– Promptness in submitting the design
- Explain the instructions for this production phase: Each work team has 15 minutes to produce as many snowflakes as they can before time is up. Each snowflake must be identical to your design. There will be a reward for the work team that produces the most snowflakes. Announce ‘Start’ when you’re ready. Visit each team and silently listen to what they are discussing. Answer any questions they have, and remind them of how much time they have left. When time is up, have them turn in their products for final inspection by the Quality Assurance Engineer. Give marks on the following criteria:
– Neatness of products
– Accuracy in replicating the original design
– Quality control
Present the remaining money as a reward. (Note: You can collect anywhere from $ 25 to $1.00 from each participant at the beginning of the session. Just be sure you award 25% of it during the design phase and 75% of it for the production award.)
- Debrief the simulation, explaining that each leader was asked to behave in a specific leadership style. Ask followers to share what they experienced and discuss their responses to these questions:
What style (of the four) did you see your leader exhibit?
How did it feel to be led with this kind of style?
Share evidence of that style (what behaviors did you experience?).
On a scale of 1–5, how motivated were you?
On a scale of 1–5, how productive was your group?
- Summarize by discussing how the theory can be applied to their leadership responsibilities. Ask these questions:
How was this simulation like real life?
When is each style most appropriate to use?
Which style(s) do you, personally, need to develop?
shortly after conducting this activity take some time to ponder on how it went, how engaged
the participants were, and what questions they raised. Make notes that include how much time you actually spent on the activity.