HR Management & Compliance, Talent

Training Exercises for Developing Servant Leaders–or Any Leaders

Servant leaders focus primarily on the growth and well-being of the employees they manage, as well as the communities to which they belong.1 They place emphasis on serving others and contributing to the overall success of groups.
Here are some training exercises you can use to develop servant leaders in your organization:

Magic Carpet Ride

Divide a group of trainees in to teams of six or eight. Have each team stand on a tarp. Place all tarps about 1 to 2 feet apart from one another. Make sure the tarps aren’t touching one another or near any external objects that team members can reach. Then instruct each team to turn the tarp they’re standing on around without their hands or feet touching the ground around the tarp.
To successfully complete this exercise, teams will have to share their tarps with one another. The goal is to have teams learn how to serve one another so they can achieve their greater goals together, opposed to only one team hurrying up to win.

Discovering a Dollar Treasure

Have trainees work together in groups of three to five people. Hand each group a piece of paper and a pen. Then ask them to brainstorm responses to the question, “What is the best thing you can buy for a dollar?” Then after 10 minutes or so of brainstorming, have each group share their responses.
At first, participants will think of items to get at the local dollar store, and then they’ll think of ways to buy something inexpensive to sell for more to turn a profit. But after more discussion, they will eventually think of ways they can use the dollar to serve others. The point of this exercise is for participants to learn the value of serving others and that it doesn’t cost much but has great value and great return.

Discussing Examples of Leaders

First have your class of trainees brainstorm and name the richest people in the world, the most successful people on Wall Street, players who won the most recent Super Bowl, and famous leaders in government. Next, have them talk about and list teachers, mentors, friends, and others who have helped them reach their personal and professional goals.
The purpose of this exercise is for participants to realize that the true leaders who change lives are typically those in our everyday lives, those who are caring and make time for us. They are people who serve others. They are not those famous individuals whom we see on television and in magazines.
Use the exercises listed above to jump-start your next servant leadership training session or seminar.

  1. Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. “The Servant as Leader,” Accessed 1/28/2018.

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