Activities for Work of Leaders trainings

Activities for Work of Leaders trainings

cover of The Work of Leaders bookWe know that Everything DiSC Work of Leaders is being added to several leadership development programs that already exist. But one of the great things about Everything DiSC products is that they don’t have to be used only by professional trainers. In addition to the Work of Leaders Facilitation Kit with its videos, slides, handouts and leader’s guide, here are a few ideas for additional training activities and readings that follow The Work of Leaders book.

What would your followers say?

This is adapted from Phillip Van Hooser’s book, Leaders Ought to Know.

Ask participants to think about the best leader they’ve ever known. Once they are all envisioning him or her, ask them to choose one work that best describes what made this leader so effective and write it down. Then ask them to share. Record these descriptions on a flip chart or other tool.

Ask participants to do the same for the worst leader the participants have ever known. Record the descriptions.

Now ask: “What words are your followers using to describe you when they talk with colleagues, family, friends, and maybe even total strangers?”

If members of your group are having a hard time seeing themselves as leaders or if they are new to leadership roles, ask them to choose two words from the positive list and share with groups of just three or four how they display those leadership traits.

As a journal assignment, ask participants to write about at least two other positive traits they know they can exhibit. Ask them to also write about any fears they have about showing traits on the negative list.

Exploring our vision

The hat tip for this goes to Patrick Lencioni and his five questions from The Advantage.

Display the first three of his questions for your group:
1. Why do we exist?
2. How do we behave?
3. What do we do?

Let participants know that they can discuss these questions in light of their organization, their department, or their team. Remind them that the first step in creating a vision is exploration. So they don’t need to have firm, definitive answers to these questions yet. But encourage them to try answering the questions for a few minutes. Divide into small groups if necessary.

Stop the group(s) and ask them to reflect out loud on what made answering these questions difficult for them. Ask these questions if they are having difficulties responding. These questions can also be used as part of a journaling exercise.

  1. How could you as a leader make this exercise easier for your followers?
  2. How do you incorporate your personal values, your own goals, and your personality into your answers?
  3. Are there conflicts or uncertainties in your tentative answers?
  4. How can you gather more data to better answer these questions?
  5. How can they illustrate their vision through stories, images or words that evoke an image?

Additional reading:

Be bold

Even though each of us has probably been a leader multiple times in our lives, being a great leader takes practice. Can we practice being bold?

As either a journal or group exercise, ask participants to share a story about a time when they took bold action. When did they stretch their boundaries? Where did they find the fortitude, the support, the inspiration, or whatever it was that helped them take a different step?

As a journal exercise, ask participants to write about where they need to be bold now or very soon. Ask them to answer these questions: What are the risks you face in not being bold? What are the risks of being bold? What are your fears about taking (or not taking) action? Who or what could support you? How will you respond to any push back after you take bold action?

Additional reading:

5 Reasons Why Bold Leaders Are Remarkably Successful, LaRae Quy
Why It Is So Hard to Be an Authentic Leader, Bill George
Have the Courage to Be Direct, Harvard Business Review Blog Network
How I Got My Team To Fail More, Harvard Business Review Blog Network
Why You Should Write an Annual Failure Report, Inc.
How to Kickstart Your Company’s Idea Market, Inc.

Innovating right

Creating a culture that allows for innovation can be crucial for success in this leadership area. The top leader can’t be the only person with ideas. As a group exercise, evaluate how your organization is doing. Have each person give a grade for the following categories and then discuss their ratings as a group. What could be done to improve these grades? (Tip for facilitators: Remind participants about what they’ve learned about the leader’s role in creating a clear vision and making available the resources for execution.)

  • Resourcefulness is encouraged and rewarded.
  • Employees feel able to focus on outcomes instead of getting caught in the activity trap.
  • We have a structure in place for evaluating new ideas.
  • Continuous innovation is an integral part of our organization.
  • Innovations are easy to introduce; there is a pathway for gaining sponsorship and resources for innovation.

Additional reading:
Unlocking Your Organization’s Innovation Potential, CIO Insight
Innovation Isn’t Just About New Products, Harvard Business Review Blog
The Right Innovation Mindset Can Take You from Idea to Impact, Harvard Business Review Blog Network
When You’re Innovating, Resist Looking for Solutions, Harvard Business Review Blog Network

Practice seeking counsel

Ask participants to share an idea with the group. It can be big or small, tactical or strategic, workplace-related or career-related. Ask for feedback. Listen. As an assignment outside of the classroom, ask for additional counsel.

Additional reading:

How Strong Leaders Ask For Help, Forbes
7 Tips for Making Powerful New Connections, Inc.
Three Tips For Overcoming Your Blind Spots, Harvard Business Review
The Art of Giving and Receiving Advice, Harvard Business Review

Conduct a pre-mortem

Gary Klein’s pre-mortem exercise consists of gathering a group of people in your organization and telling them that the project has failed spectacularly. They write down all the possible reasons for the failure. Problems are surfacing while there is still time to make changes. The team is also sensitized to early warning signs of possible problems. A more complete set of instructions can be found at The Pre-Mortem: A Simple Technique To Save Any Project From Failure.

DiSC bonus

Ask people how their DiSC style was reflected in their comfort level in taking on each of these tasks and assignments. What can each style learn from the other styles? For example, if an S-style person has shown great boldness, how did she do it? Was the process any different from a D-style person who typically shows more ease in taking risks?

Download these slide decks

Work of Leaders Quotes

Work of Leaders: Vision

Work of Leaders: Alignment

Work of Leaders: Execution


Related post: Work of Leaders supplemental readings

by Kristeen Bullwinkle


  1. Lindsay Suline 6 years ago

    I like disc profiles what do I do for it where do I get the assisgnment for personal development

    • Author
      The team 6 years ago

      You can purchase Everything DiSC assessments from any Everything DiSC Authorized Partner. Or buy from us at

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