24 Leadership Activities for Kids (Printable PDF)
Leadership Activities for Kids: Explore leadership styles and skills with more than 20 fun activities for kids + Download your free leadership worksheets for kids at the end of the post.
A leader is a person who can guide other people toward the accomplishment of a goal. A leader inspires trust and moves people into action.
It is not easy to list all the characteristics of a good leader. There are different leadership styles with their own sets of associated characteristics. And there are also a variety of events or situations that may require specific leadership styles.
In the first part of this post, we are going to share some basic concepts to provide a framework to the leadership activities for kids that we will propose in the second part.
There are many leadership style classifications, so we will only explore two of the most popular and commonly used ones.
Lewin pioneered the research on leadership and described three leadership styles:
- Autocratic leadership.
Autocratic leaders exert complete power. They make all the decisions and expect others to follow their orders.
- Democratic leadership
A democratic leader involves others in the decision-making. They encourage participation and sharing of opinions.
- Laissez-faire leadership
A laissez-faire leader gives complete freedom of action to the group. It is a hands-off approach to leadership.
Goleman’s expanded this list and noted that a leader may display one or more of these styles, and switch styles depending on what specific situations may require.
Goleman’s leadership styles include:
- Visionary leadership
The leader is a source of inspiration for the group. They provide long-term direction and lead the group toward a common goal or vision.
- Coaching leadership
A coaching leader focuses on developing others. They are encouraging and empathic.
- Affiliative leadership
An affiliative leader prioritizes people over tasks. They connect with people and their emotional needs.
- Pacesetting leader
The pacesetting leader focuses on the task. They seek excellent performance and goal achievement. They are not sympathetic to underperformers.
And the next two leadership styles were already captured in Lewin’s classification:
- Democratic leadership
Democratic leaders listen to people’s views and encourage collaboration and participation
- Coercive leadership (similar to autocratic leadership or commanding leadership)
Coercive leaders don’t consider people’s opinions and expect compliance with their orders.
We could mention many other leadership styles (charismatic leader, transformational leader, innovative leader). Whenever there is an important skill that can serve others reach common goals, we could sense a potential leadership opportunity.
Related reading: Primal Leadership by D. Goleman, R.E. Boyatzis, and A. McKee
Key Leadership Skills
Depending on the type of leadership style some skills may become more prominent, but a good leader will display some of the following skills or character strengths:
- Critical thinking
- Problem-solving skills
- Communication skills
- Sound judgment
- Sense of justice
- Decision-making skills
- Planning abilities
- Conflict resolution skills
- Negotiation and collaboration skills
- Adaptability / Openness to change
- Creative thinking
- Emotional intelligence (Self-awareness / Situation awareness / Social skills)
Best Leadership Activities for Kids
How can we develop some of these leadership skills in kids?
Let’s explore some worksheets, fun games, and activities that will help us with this task:
Exploring Leadership (Worksheets & Activities)
1. Leadership Styles Worksheets (free PDF download at the end of the post)
Explore with your kids or students the different leadership styles we have mentioned above.
Brainstorm the following points:
- Are there positive aspects to each leadership style?
- Are there situations that best suit specific leadership styles?
2. What Makes a Great Leader (Worksheet)
What are the characteristics that make a good leader?
There are two parts to this activity.
The first part proposes a brainstorming session about the skills, strengths and qualities of a good leader.
The second part presents a list of leadership traits and other character descriptors for the kids to circle the ones that a good leader may display.
3. Collage a Role Model
Have the craft activity highlight important skills and what makes people great leaders. Paste pictures from magazines onto a piece of paper or if you are working with young children, have them draw pictures
4. Bubble Chart (Team work)
Divide the kids up into small groups of 3-4 students. On a poster board, have the students write the name of team members in the center and circle their names. then, have the group write up different skills such as ‘positive attitude ‘or ‘always willing to help’.
To make the skills mentioned as authentic as possible, give your students a short time limit so they need to think quickly.
This is a fun way to get to know your group members and is an excellent addition to any curriculum.
5. The Leader in Me Worksheet (Individual work) (included in your free download)
I recommend this activity after you have gone through the previous ones.
Explore your personal strengths (I recommend you go through my post on personal strengths – you will be able to download a list of strengths and explore some activities on how to identify our strengths)
- What are the leadership strengths in me?
- What type of leader would I like to be?
- What are the essential leadership skills I may need to develop?
Critical Thinking Activities
6. Critical Thinking Group Work
Divide your students into small groups and provide a news item (something relevant to your community, region, country). Ask them to:
- Identify a problem
- Do further research so that they have an in-depth knowledge of the problem (causes, implications, etc)
- Use different sources so that your information is not biased by one single source.
- Ask them to present back to you and the class what the problem is and what different perspectives they have identified and their own take on that specific issue
Create two groups that will have to defend opposite views on a problem.
Ask them to swap and defend the opposing view.
Conflict Resolution Activities / Social Problem-Solving Activities
Learning healthy ways to handle conflict is an invaluable social skill to develop in our leaders of the future.
8. Social Problem-Solving Worksheets
Conflict resolution is, in essence, problem-solving a social situation.
In this worksheet, we will follow the steps for problem-solving, with an important addition (calming down):
- Calm down so that you can deal with the conflict
- What is the problem/conflict
- Listen to the other side
- Think about possible solutions
- Check pros and cons
- Decide what solution works best for all (win-win if possible)
You can download this conflict resolution worksheet at the end of the post.
9. Brainstorm Solutions (Group Work)
Divide your students into groups of 4-5 and give each group a different problem (this can be economic, political, social, or anything else) and have them work together to create a solution.
Have them create a presentation and then present it to the entire class. Afterward, encourage students to ask more thought-provoking questions.
10. Conflict Resolution Worksheet (Conflict-Handling Modes)
This conflict resolution worksheet will work on the different conflict-handling modes:
Identify a conflict scenario, and ask your students to write examples for each conflict resolution strategy.
Check more conflict resolution activities for kids
Communication Skills Activities
Effective communication skills are an important ability to nourish in our young leaders. It is not only the ability to communicate messages but also the ability to listen to those around.
11. Speech Competition
Ask your students to choose a topic of their interest. Let them have some time to research and prepare the topic, and write a speech on the topic.
This is a basic guideline of what their speech structure may look like:
- Introduction (best attention / hook them to your speech! and preview the topic)
- Main body (describe the issue / describe options / offer a solution / back it up)
- Conclusion (recap / motivate / call to action / thank you)
12. Make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
One fun game for young kids is to have them write down the directions for making a simple sandwich like the classic PB&J. While this may not seem like a leadership activity, working with your students to break down every single step will help develop communication skills, and critical thinking which will make them an effective leader.
13. Act it Out
Have your students express themselves through the world of acting!
Give each group a different scenario and have them create an entire skit out of the scenario. As a team, they have to write out the script, and assign the roles as well as practice before performing in front of the entire house.
14. Telephone Game
A good leader also needs to listen to those around them. Have your kids practice listening skills with this classic leadership game!
15. Just Listen
One of the best team-building games is a listening game where everyone in the classroom agrees to not talk about themselves for the entire day. This helps take the focus off of themselves and focus on others. While this can be challenging, it ends up being one of the favorite activities for most students.
Related reading: Fun Listening Skills Activities for Kids
Other leadership games and activities for kids
16. Community service
Volunteering is an excellent way to practice hard work and gain life skills. Most successful leaders would agree that the quality of a good leader is to serve others and having your kids help others from a young age is a great way to do that.
Other leadership activities
17. Join a sports team
There are plenty of extracurricular activities, but joining a sports team is the best way to encourage physical movement while developing true leaders.
Playing sports allows kids to work as a team and develop many leadership skills like decision-making, communication, active listening, dealing with success and failure or working toward a common goal.
If you are looking for easy ways to get your kids out of their comfort zone and to focus on teamwork, then a sports team might be the best thing for them.
18. Join a Leadership Class
Most high schools offer leaders of tomorrow classes that are filled with team activities and leadership development that help develop essential skills that high school students enjoy.
19. Leadership Opportunities
Create opportunities to practice leadership skills.
- Encourage your students to join the student council.
- Identify students who could be peer mentors
- Can the class leader change every term? This will provide more opportunities for different kids to take up a leadership role.
- Can you assign leaders to different tasks (teacher helpers / class roles / project coordinator)?
20. Fundraising for a good cause
21. Write a Leadership Journal
22. Escape rooms
A escape room is a great activity to practice many leadership skills: critical thinking, problem solving, effective communication, conflict resolution, team building and leveraging team members skills and strengths.
23. Summer Camps
A good summer camp program can be a nurturing educational environment where kids learn or develop social skills, decision-making skills, and grow more independent
24. Create Motivational Posters
This activity is a great way to make decorations for the classroom, hallway, or for their own bedroom wall.
Before your students begin designing their own posters, take some time to discuss different motivational sayings and how they can encourage strong leadership.
Leadership Activities Worksheets (PDF Download)
The following leadership worksheets for kids are included in your free download:
- Leadership styles
- What makes a good leader
- The leader in me
- Conflict resolution activity