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Leadership activities for high school students

October 12, 2009

Most schools find it important to instill a sense of leadership in their graduating class of students. We’ve decided to help you by doing some research on the best ways to get students geared up to take their next step.

In this post we’ve outlined some techniques such as leadership swaps, discussions on reading body language and team building exercises in addition to a few great links.

Leadership swap
This is a task recommended by Tom Siebold, a writer, consultant and owner of CollegeGrazing.com – a site to help high school students learn the skills they need to use in college. The aim of the task is to get students to share their experiences with each other and build rapport. The activity is as follows:

Divide the class into groups of three.  From the list of “situations” below, instruct the groups to take turns giving examples of something they have done or witnessed.

  • A creative twist on a situation or issue.
  • A clever improvisation–“dancing on your feet”
  • A pleasant surprise
  • An Aha moment
  • Something that generated a great deal of excitement
  • A conflict resolved
  • A breakthrough insight or solution
  • A really tough situation
  • A blindside experience
  • A moving (emotional) situation

This activity should help your students take the time to portray their own leadership skills through examples.

Read here for more exercises of this kind.


Helping students identify body language

Young adults need to be aware of the behaviors of the people they communicate with. The following exercise will encourage conversation about how a student would interpret a certain body language expression.

Here’s what you need to do – provide students with the body language expressions listed below, allow them to discuss and then present their thoughts to the class.

  • When a person plays with change in their pocket while communicating.
  • When a person rolls their eyes after they hear or say something.
  • When a person talks with their arms crossed.
  • When a person refuses to make eye contact while speaking.
  • When a person rocks or squirms while speaking.
  • When a person talks to you while invading your personal space.
  • When a person turns their back on someone as they enter the group.
  • When a person whispers to another in a group setting.
  • When a person points a finger or shakes his fist at another person.
  • When a person slumps their shoulders or looks towards the ground while speaking.


Learning from Donald Trump
Break your class up into two groups or teams and assign the same activity to each group. Activities can include selling a service such as a car wash, or a lemonade stand – as long as the success is measurable.

Once the task is over, the teams can come together and discuss the successes or failures of each team. The team leader here is given a chance to understand what they did right. It also enables individuals to step up during the next round of activities.

You may also take it one step further by choosing the best team leader based on how well they managed their teams.

For more ideas, read more here.


Here’s some more resources that you might find very useful

Teampedia.net a wiki site designed especially for team building exercises.

50 activities that deal with each aspect of leadership.

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