Leadership exercises: Discover yourself as a leader through leadership exercises

Leadership exercises are an excellent way to help you discover yourself as a leader and break through to new levels in leadership performance. And you get the most out of leadership exercises when they are within the context of quality leadership development programs.

Leadership exercises: Context is key

Many of the top business schools in the world include leadership exercises in their leadership development programs.

In IMD’s Mobilizing People program, for example, leadership exercises take place within a carefully developed framework designed to help experienced managers mobilize people towards key business goals. This framework is critical – to have any impact, leadership exercises must take place within a defined structure that develops all aspects of leadership. The basics are:

  • 1. Set the stage: learn the basic concepts of human behavior and leadership to prepare for experience-based learning
  • 2. Leadership exercises: experience and experiment with your own leadership
  • 3. Integrate what you’ve learned: see how your leadership can be more effective
  • 4. Implement: put your learning into action

As part of this framework, the leadership exercises within Mobilizing People allow you to explore the essence of leadership, become more aware of what is going on around you, and become more aware of your own responses. In this way you’ll improve your overall effectiveness at motivating teams and leading with impact. Let’s look at this in a bit more detail.

Leadership exercises = leadership practice

Leadership exercises give you the chance to experiment with your leadership. Get the feel for using the skills in you that help you lead well – and make mistakes too. As you practice your leadership through leadership exercises, you become more aware of what is going on around you, especially your own responses. It needs to be emphasized that you are not being taught to imitate some “prescription” but are learning your own leadership – you are actually teaching yourself! You become more sensitive to situations and people – and therefore more responsive as a leader.

Leadership exercises strip team dynamics to the core

Mobilizing People’s high intensity leadership exercises take place in the beautiful Swiss Alps. They get you out of your environment and force you to work intensely. The usual “noise” that can blind you to what you are doing – office politics, jammed printers, thinking about tonight’s game – is stripped away. What you are left with are team dynamics. The more focused the people on the team, the more chances for learning.

Leadership exercises make you reflect… especially about yourself

Mobilizing People is built on self-awareness and the principle that “change begins with me”. As mentioned, the leadership exercises during the program help you become more aware and conscious of yourself, other people and situations. This learning is consolidated through concentrated individual feedback and coaching from professional coaches. By taking a deep look inside yourself and reflecting upon your leadership and the team dynamics you experienced in the leadership exercises, you become empowered to drive change in your team and organization.

Leadership exercises must be followed by integration and activation

The leadership exercises will have left you feeling refreshed and energized. But for lasting effects, the learning has to be brought to a deeper level - you must integrate what you have learned.

Mobilizing People does this in two ways. First, back in the classroom after the leadership exercises, you “join the dots” and make sense of what you’ve learned to see how your leadership can be more effective. Second, after the program you get support to implement your learning through two follow-up coaching sessions. Because isn’t bringing it home the whole point of leadership exercises?


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