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Leadership and followership
Leadership and followership

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2.1 Team building exercises

A useful tool in helping to create a cohesive team is the team building exercise! Many of you will have experienced these in your workplace, but they can take many forms – ranging from moving blindfolded through an obstacle course led by one team member who can see, to having a sports competition.

Not only will these exercises give the team an opportunity to interact outside the work context and learn more about each other, but it will give you the chance to observe their strengths and weaknesses in a different environment.

The key is to find an exercise where the learning points can clearly be transferred back into the workplace. An activity that is viewed as ‘pointless’ by team members can demotivate them and lead to loss of respect for the leader.

Brown (2016) outlines three key ways to set up team-building exercises that create impact:

  1. Identify what impact you need, for example, spending time together, learning skills, accomplishing something.
  2. Decide what type of ‘different’ you need, for example, different location, mix of people, activity.
  3. Create something tangible, for example, an action plan, a decision made.

Activity 3 A team building exercise

Timing: Allow about 25 minutes

1. Think of a team you are in and answer the following questions:

  • a.Is the purpose of the team clear?
  • b.Does it have the right mix of people/skills etc.?
  • c.Are people in the right roles/using their strengths?
  • d.Are team members motivated?
  • e.What phase of team formation do you think you are in (forming, storming, norming or performing)?
  • f.What development could the team benefit from?
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2. With your answer to f in mind, devise a team building exercise that will address the development need. Set a realistic budget and come up with something that will have a purpose and a benefit when you return to your normal team situation.

If you’re short of ideas, the Venture Team Building [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] website has a list of over 60 activities to inspire you!


Could you consider actually running your exercise with colleagues in your workplace? If you aren’t currently leading a team, find out if you have any away days or training afternoons scheduled and volunteer to run a session. Your boss will probably be delighted!

If you do run it, use your leadership journal to reflect on how it went. Collect some feedback from participants and consider what you might do differently next time.

Models such as Gibbs’ (1988) reflective cycle, that you saw in Week 3, can provide structure to your reflection if required:

A series of boxes arranged in a circle and connected by arrows pointing in a clockwise direction.
Figure 4 Gibbs’ reflective cycle.