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Harness the power of Experiential Learning in Leadership Training

Take a dive into the innovative activities for Leadership training that are available with an Experiential Learning Tools subscription

11th April 2024

Harness the power of Experiential Learning in Leadership Training
When considering leadership development, there has been a steady shift towards using experiential learning techniques that has seen a change in in how skills are taught and acquired.

You might be asking "What is experiential learning"? It's the opposite of traditional lecture-based training sessions and death by Powerpoint. These traditional teaching methods are making way for interactive, hands-on experiences that resonate on a deeper level with participants and result higher impact outcome for businesses. At the heart of this transformative approach is the belief that the most effective learning occurs when individuals are actively engaged in a process of doing, reflecting, and applying.

This blog post delves into some of the most impactful activities we can use for remote leadership training, including Colourblind, Simbols, Images of Resilience, Seeing the Point, Broken Square, and Emergency Delivery.

Colourblind is an engaging activity that challenges participants to communicate effectively under constraints. In this exercise, a group works together to gather information that will allow them to solve a puzzle. The size of the group (ideally between 6 and 14 but can be up to 20) demands different types of skills: information and group management, active listening and questioning, strong chairing skills, the ability to clarify and summarise, and the need for feedback to ensure understanding.
This activity not only sharpens communication skills but also highlights the importance of clear, precise language and active listening in leadership. It mirrors real-world scenarios where leaders must navigate through information gaps and ambiguity to make informed decisions.

Simbols is a dynamic activity designed to enhance problem-solving and team collaboration. Teams are presented with a complex symbol puzzle that requires collective intelligence to decipher. The activity pushes leaders to foster an environment of open dialogue, encourage diverse perspectives, and synthesize information to achieve a common goal. 

Simbols is an excellent metaphor for the workplace, where leaders often need to unify various departments or viewpoints to tackle complex challenges. It has been widely used in leadership programmes around the world. The design of the Simbols activity and the complexity of the information can lead to confusion, ambiguity and uncertainty. To avoid this, precise descriptive language and communication, and careful feedback and checking skills must be applied. However, this happens in a context of time pressure, in which implementation must be ‘right first time’.

Images of Resilience
In the Images of Resilience activity, participants explore the concept of resilience through a series of powerful images and stories. This activity invites leaders to reflect on their own resilience and the resilience of their teams. It's an opportunity to discuss strategies for overcoming adversity, bouncing back from failure, and building a resilient organizational culture. Images of Resilience not only strengthens emotional intelligence but also equips leaders with the tools to support their teams through challenging times.

In a previous blog post Experiential Learning Tools Co-Founder Graham Cook explored "what is resilience" and how it can be something to be admired and something that can be a hinderance and a blocker to change in our organisations.

Seeing the Point
Seeing the Point is a real time collaborative activity focused on perspective-taking and empathy, crucial components of effective leadership. Participants are presented with various images and situations, prompting discussions about different interpretations and reactions. This activity teaches leaders the value of understanding diverse viewpoints and the impact of their decisions and actions on others. By fostering empathy, leaders can create more inclusive, supportive, and understanding work environments.

Seeing the point is often deployed as fun and enjoyable icebreaker and works well with up up to 20 participants split into teams.

Broken Squares
The Broken Squares activity challenges teams to assemble a square from a set of pieces, but with a twist: communication is non-verbal, and pieces cannot be shared freely. This activity tests and builds upon teamwork, non-verbal communication skills, and the ability to lead without words. Leaders learn the importance of non-verbal cues in guiding their teams and the power of silent leadership in facilitating group dynamics and cooperation.

This activity uses a real time collaborative canvas and automatically splits our participants into teams with up to 20 participants joining the activity.

Emergency Delivery
Emergency Delivery is a high-stakes simulation that puts leadership decision-making and prioritisation skills to the test. This activity was explicitly developed for use in corporate leadership training.

Participants must plan and execute a critical delivery under tight constraints, dealing with unexpected challenges along the way. This activity mirrors the pressures of leadership in crisis situations, where quick thinking, adaptability, and decisive action are paramount. It teaches leaders to remain calm under pressure, make strategic decisions swiftly, and communicate effectively in high-stress scenarios.

Implementing Experiential Learning in Leadership Training
Integrating these activities into leadership training programs can dramatically enhance the learning experience and outcomes. Here are a few strategies to ensure the successful implementation of experiential learning activities:

  1. Contextualise the activities: Align the activities with the specific objectives of your leadership training program. Ensure that each activity addresses relevant competencies and challenges that participants face in their leadership roles.
  2. Debrief thoroughly: The true value of experiential learning lies in the reflection phase. Facilitate comprehensive debriefing sessions where participants can discuss their experiences, insights, and takeaways. This reflection turns abstract experiences into concrete learning.
  3. Encourage openness: Create a safe, supportive environment where participants feel comfortable taking risks, making mistakes, and expressing their thoughts and feelings. This openness enhances learning and fosters a culture of continuous improvement.
  4. Link to real-world applications: Help participants draw connections between the activities and their real-world leadership challenges. Discuss practical applications of the skills and insights gained through the activities to ensure transferability to the workplace.
  5. Evaluate and iterate: Collect feedback from participants to assess the effectiveness of the activities and the overall training program. Use this feedback to make continuous improvements, ensuring that the training remains relevant, engaging, and impactful.

Leadership training activities that embrace experiential learning offer an innovative, impactful ways to develop the essential skills required for effective leadership. By engaging in activities exclusively available through Experiential Learning tools such as Colourblind, Simbols, Images of Resilience, Seeing the Point, Broken Squares, and Emergency Delivery, leaders can enhance their communication, problem-solving, empathy, and decision-making skills in a hands-on, reflective manner.

Implementing these activities within leadership training programs not only enriches the learning experience but also prepares leaders to navigate the complexities of the modern workplace with confidence and competence. 

If you want to learn more about applying these activities in your leadership programmes book a free 1:1 demo at a time that suits you with the Experiential Learning Tools team or drop us a message through our contact form.

Michael Hayes @_mdhayes

Head of Product at Experiential Learning Tools

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