Become a leader


Wilderness survival

Group size: from five to twelve participants. Several subgroups may be directed simultaneously in the same room. (Synergistic outcomes are more likely to be achieved by smaller subgroups, i.e., five to seven participants.)

Time: Approximately one and one-half hours

Materials required:

Physical Setting:
A room large enough for the entire group to meet and separate rooms or areas in which subgroups can work without distracting one another.

To teach in the future leaders the effectiveness of consensus-seeking behavior in teams through comparative experiences with both individual decision making and team decision making.

To explore the possession of some important for the leaders personal traits and type of thinking like to win the trust of others, to wield power, and to have constructive influence over the team members.

To explore the concept of synergy in reference to the outcomes of group decision making.

During a session about the personal development of the future leaders.
Before playing the game, it will be good if the trainer makes a short presentation of information about personal traits, values and type of thinking of the effective leaders.

Step 1: The trainer briefly introduces the activity by explaining its purpose, outline, and origin. Step 2: The trainer distributes copies of the Wilderness Survival Work Sheet. The participants complete the work sheet individually. (Approximately ten minutes.)
Step 3: Subgroups are formed, and copies of the Wilderness Survival Group Briefing Sheet are distributed to all participants.
Step 4: After participants have read the briefing sheet silently, the trainer briefly discusses its contents.
Step 5: Subgroups work separately on the consensus-seeking task. (Approximately thirty minutes.)

Here comes a short break of the game with a kind of different activity. The Participants are asked to rank-order one another (independently) in terms of the amount of influence, trust or power each had on the consensus-seeking outcomes during the work of the subgroup.
At the end, each participant will derive a score for his/her leadership behavior based on the differences between self-ranking and the opinion of her/his colleagues.

The trainer says: We will do an exercise that requires courage and honesty. I am sure that you, as future leaders, will be fair. The exercise is designed as a secret ballot, which means that your decisions will remain anonymous.

Each of you will receive 3 cards that look like this:

T – for Trust
P – for Exercise of power
C – Constructive influence on the group

Your task is the following: On a T-card, write the name of the person in the group you trusted the most during the group work. On the P-card write the name of the person who used more force and power in imposing his opinion. Write the name of the person who made the most constructive decisions during the discussion on the C-card.
It is important not to hand over blank cards! And also, not to discuss your opinion with the other participants.
Now concentrate and allocate the cards. And once again – the exercise is completely anonymous. Your name does not appear on the cards. Write the names of the people you choose, in block letters or with your left hand, so that they cannot be recognized. Then put your cards in the box. I will process the results and then destroy the cards. Your choice could not be identified.
Once everyone has completed the task and handed over their cards, the trainer (e.g. during the break) summarizes the results. He / She writes them on the flipchart – marking against the name of each member of the group the result he/she received for each of the three behaviors characteristics.
At the end of the game, the trainer takes the time to share and discuss the participants` satisfaction with the results.

Step 6: When all subgroups have completed the task, the entire group reassembles, with the members of each subgroup seated together.
Step 7: The statistics for all subgroups are posted on a chart such as the following:

Outcome Subgroup 1 Subgroup 2 Subgroup 3
Range of Individual Score
Average of Individual Scores
Score for Group Consensus

Step 8: Subgroups discuss their consensus-seeking process and outcomes. The focus should be on leadership behaviors that help or hinder productivity.
Step 9. Each participant receives a copy of the Wilderness Survival Answer and Rationale Sheet. The trainer announces (and posts) the “correct” answers, and each participant scores his or her own work sheet. A volunteer in each subgroup scores the subgroup’s solution and computes the average for the individual scores within the subgroup.

The trainer leads a total-group discussion of the process and outcomes; he or she may include discussions of leadership, compromise, decision-making strategies, psychological climate, roles, and applications of the techniques learned. Discussion questions such as the following might be suggested by the trainer:

  • Who were the influential members and how were they influential?
  • What behaviors helped or hindered the consensus-seeking process?
  • What patterns of decision making occurred?
  • What are the implications of consensus seeking and synergistic outcomes for the successful leader role?
  • What consequences might such a process produce in the group’s attitudes?


  • Process observers can be used to give feedback about either subgroup or individual behavior.
    The process of the group discussion can be video recorded and then commented by the participants. Here are some questions that can be used by the trainer to lead the group discussion:

    • How did the discussion flow?
    • What was positive?
    • What was negative?
    • What was needed for the end result?
    • Where do you see opportunities to improve the work of the group?
  • Subgroups can be encouraged to experiment with alternatives to formal voting procedures: seating themselves in the order of the way they ranked a given item as individuals, rating their agreement with each item, distributing points among alternatives, etc.
  • The group-on-group design can be used to heighten participation for consensus seeking. Two rounds can be used, with two different ranking tasks.
  • The trainer can experiment with various subgroup sizes. Persons can be randomly assigned to subgroups and given a time limit for the consensus seeking phase. They can be asked to rate their satisfaction with the outcomes before the scoring step is begun. Average satisfaction ratings can be compared across subgroups and can be discussed in relation to other statistical outcomes.
  • As an intergroup task, the same ranking form can be filled out by two subgroups. Then each subgroup can be instructed to predict the ranking of the other subgroup. The two can be brought together to publish their actual rankings and sets of predictions. This activity gives each subgroup a “mirror image” of itself and can lead to more effective communication.
  • Sequential consensus exercises can be used, so that subgroups build on what was learned in the first phase. New subgroups can be formed for the second round. One task may have “right” answers, and the other may not. The subgroup may create its own instrument for the second phase.