Become a leader


Be the leader your team needs

Group size: From 10 to 12 participants
Time: About 3 hours
Materials required: Chairs, newsprint, prepared papers, markers


  • Helps a group and individuals to see how the behavior of the leader affects a group the leader is working with.
  • Learn the characteristics of different style of leaders and understand the proper behavior of a leader.
  • Motivate people participants to adopt a good leadership style.
  • Participants will feel good or bad regarding their role youth worker gave to them. This feeling will follow and affect them to their career

This game is a good exercise to use at the beginning of a workshop on leadership.

Phase One:

  1. Five or six participants should be called on, for each of the two role-plays. Each group should be asked to act out a meeting of some group with which they are familiar. They are given a task to make a decision on some matter of general interest to the whole group or their experiences at home.
  2. The first leader is told to act the part of a very dictatorial chairperson**: to call for ideas, but not listen to people, to squash their suggestions, to impose her/his own point of view on the group, to tell them that it is all their fault etc.
  3. Other members of the group are each given the following specific roles:
    • Role A – is asked to support whatever the chairperson suggests,
    • Role B – suggests several different possibilities,
    • Role C – supports speaker B,
    • Role D – always interrupts and opposes the chairperson, etc.
      The above instructions can either be given orally to individuals before doing the play, or be written on slips of papers for each volunteer.
  4. The chairs should be arranged in an open circle in front of the group, so that everyone can see and hear well. The actors should be reminded to speak clearly and make all their gestures clearly visible.
  5. The chairperson starts the play and each person participates in the roles (s)he has been given.
  6. Meanwhile the audience is asked to make notes on the following questions the Youth worker has written down before the play:

    What does the leader do in the group?

    How does the group react?

  7. When the situation has become clear to the audience, the Youth worker stops the action and asks the second group of five or six to come to the chairs.

*Inspiration for this game taken from, Grieshaber Christine (1994) Step by Step: Group Development ; a Trainer’s Handbook.
**Characteristics of the dictatorial style of leadership: – order, directions and obedience – the leader controls, sets the objectives and watches the realization – the members have to follow and obey – cooperation and creativity of the members are hindered – there is no possibility for the members and for the group to develop

Phase Two:

  1. This is a different committee in a different place, but their task is similar. Most of the members have been given similar instructions about their roles, but this time the chairperson has been asked to be very passive. This style of leadership is called Laissez-faire (= french: “let them do as they like”)***.
    This leader shows little interest, makes no suggestions, does not respond to suggestions of the group, does not help to reach decisions or solve conflicts.
  2. The audience is asked to take notes.
  3. Again the Youth worker stops the play when the situation has become clear.
  4. If the group is fairly big it is best to let the participants buzz about these questions in three’s for a few minutes before gathering up all the answers in the whole group.
***Characteristics of the laissez-faire style of leadership: – minimized leadership – the group can act just as it wants – information or help is rarely given – there is no development of the group or of its members

Phase Three:

After the mistakes and reactions have been thoroughly discussed the Youth worker asks another question:

What does a good facilitator do in a group?
(Try to get specific answers-not just general statements!)

The answers are recorded on newsprint.

Phase Four:

Finally the role-play(s) can be re-acted with someone who volunteers to play the part of a democratic chairperson**** as effectively as possible;

The Youth worker may wish to summarize all the points made by the group and also add points on the role of an Youth worker and a facilitator.

**** Characteristics of the democratic style of leadership:
– the leader gives the group and its members sufficient help and information to solve their conflicts or activities on their own
– the group learns to accept each other’s different abilities and to find them helpful
– after a while the group’s will to cooperate is not dependent on the leader’s presence


What kind of structures are necessary to make our leadership a democratic and enabling one?

Is one single “chairperson” really able to act democratically or does this structure not promote the dictatorial style of leadership somewhat?

Can we think of other structures in our group or ways of adjusting the existing ones to make them more democratic?


There is two more leadership styles — role play to introduce leadership in small groups.

Manager Leader – Team Person:

  1. Organizes everything – all the little details; he/she focuses on both the minor and major tasks involved.
  2. Gives everybody a job – a job for everyone and everyone with a job; the leader assigns tasks
  3. Evaluates constantly. He/she constantly is seeking to determine that everyone knows his/her job and is doing it.
  4. Evaluates each person:
    – if they have good ideas or do a good job the leader praises
    – if the person has an idea that the “leader” does not like, if the person does not do a really good job, then the leader scolds and/or punishes the person
  5. Everyone reports to him/her; he/she reports to another supervisor, but those who work for the manager do not report to anyone except the manager. To go over the manager’s head to someone higher is a very bad thing!
  6.  General attitude: People are to be used for production: the bottom line is to get things done efficiently and the manager-leader is responsible for efficiency!
  7.  If people work properly for the manager, the manager gets praise and is often promoted. Those who work for him/her may get promoted.
  8. People are valued for their work, not for their being people.
  9. Managers train people to do their job efficiently.

Ego-Centric Leader – Team Person:

  1. Always wants attention to him/her.
  2. Always says these are “My plans,” My success,” “You are my group” -etc.
  3. Totally focused on self,
  4. Builds his/her own kingdom and no one else’s kingdom
  5. People are used for his/her own greed and satisfaction and pleasure
  6. Could use force if necessary to get his/her way
  7. Ego-centric leaders seek for ways to maximize their power in order to become dictators.
    People in the Ego-centric group: