I feel as if every facilitator is looking for new and fresh activities to energize and lead their group. If you are like me, you have a hard time finding activities that are applicable to your program’s goals.
I have compiled a list of my favorite 11 books that are packed full of unique and engaging icebreakers, energizers, initiatives, name games, and processing/debriefing activities (in no particular order!).
Top 11 Team Building and Leadership Activity Books for Leadership Trainers
1. The Hundredth Monkey: Activities That Inspire Playful Learning by Nate Folan & Friends
The Hundredth Monkey is a collection of the newest icebreakers, energizers, group games, and teambuilding activities from Project Adventure linked to social and emotional learning themes. More than 100 new and adapted activities conveyed in an easy to use format with suggested introductions, discussion questions, and nearly 200 variation ideas.
A special chapter on sequencing models how to link activities to increase participant engagement and learning. There is plenty here to inspire anyone who hopes to advance the human condition. Add this book to your leadership toolbox here.
2. Serious Fun: Your Step-By-Step Guide To Leading Remarkably Fun Programs That Make A Difference by Mark Collard
This book will help you design a leadership program that actually works. It’s not just enough to know the step-by-step guide on how to lead an activity or a classroom…you need to know the fundamental lessons on to create substantial change in a group.
In Serious Fun Mark talks about the seven mistakes program leaders make, and how to fix them, the four-step sequence to leading remarkably fun programs, and how to create a fun, safe and supportive learning environment. You can learn more about Mark and his awesome online training program here. (You will see more of Mark on this list) Add this book to your leadership toolbox here.
3. The Leadership Training Activity Book by Lois B. Hart and Charlotte S Waisman
This is the Ph.D of activity books, and the authors have placed a great deal of time and effort to make sure these activities are essential for professionals looking for solid leadership training.
Great leaders are trained, not born. The “Leadership Training Activity Book” gives trainers everything they need to teach and apply the most critical leadership competencies participants need. Featuring easily adaptable exercises on a wide range of leadership topics, this collection of activities is an all-in-one resource for any trainer seeking to prepare the leaders of tomorrow. Add this book to your leadership toolbox here.
4. Count Me In: Large Group Activities That Work by Mark Collard
If you’re looking for dozens of sure-fire, high energy, interactive leave-them-wanting for more activities for BIG (and small) groups, then you have everything you need right here. If you enjoy the energy and sheer craziness that only a large group of people can give, Count Me In is for you.
If you regularly work with numbers in excess of 30 people – indeed, up to several hundred people – you will learn a ton of brilliant ideas that will keep them – ALL of them – occupied and interacting at the same time, and coming back for more. These ice-breakers, energizers and interactive games work because people love ’em. In total, more than 140 activities, each accompanied with at least one variation. A veritable treasure chest of programming ideas, perfect for any group of people, especially if there is a lot of them. Have FUN. Add this book to your leadership toolbox here.
5. Team-Building Activities for Every Group by Alanna Jones
This book is filled with fun and interactive group games to help groups bond and get to know one another at a deeper level! You can use the activities to lead a group through the stages of team-building that every group must flow through when bonding. Group members learn about one another using the get to know you games in the Mix It Up chapter.
The Stir It Up chapter contains fun activities that help loosen the group up with icebreaker games. The Team Up chapter of the book is filled with 65 team-building activities and games that require group members to use teamwork to be successful. Once a team has gone through these three stages they are ready to go deeper by using the activities in the Open Up chapter to share more openly with one another and really come together as a close group. Add this book to your leadership toolbox here.
6. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
Strengths Finder 2.0 is very different from the rest of the books on this list, but it just as powerful for knowing about your team’s strengths. The online assessment that accompanies this book is by far and away the best tool I’ve found for understanding an individual’s importance towards group dynamics. Their website also has excellent professional development and leadership resources. Add this book to your leadership toolbox here.
7. The Big Book of Leadership Games: Quick, Fun Activities to Improve Communication, Increase Productivity, and Bring Out the Best in Employees by Vasudha K. Deming
This book offers managers 50 fun, illuminating experiential activities for building a positive, open, and productive relationship with the people they manage. Unlike ropes courses and other off-site management activities, The Big Book of Leadership Games features activities that can be used in the workplace during staff meetings, as a part of training sessions, or even in the course of daily work. Add this book to your leadership toolbox here.
8. No Props: Great Games with No Equipment by Mark Collard
Ever have to travel and can’t fit tons of hula hoops, fuzzy balls, and a game frame into your carry-on? This book is perfect for you! No Props is jam-packed with 220 pages of the BEST group activities, from the simplest ice-breakers to challenging problem-solving activities, the funnest getting-to-know-you games to trust exercises. This one is also by our friend Mark Collard, and is absolutely awesome. I would tell everyone to add this book to their game bag immediately. Add this book to your leadership toolbox here.
9. Find Something to Do by Jim Cain
The newest book by Jim Cain is Find Something To Do – 123 powerful and practical things to do with nothing at all. This non-prop activity book is 224 pages, back pocket size, with lots of photographs and illustrations. It covers everything from painless icebreakers to team challenges and trust building activities, to games just for fun, puzzles, reviewing and closing activities. Add this book to your leadership toolbox here.
10. Focus Your Locus – Activities the Focus The Power of Individuals and Groups by Mike Gessford and Justin McFlamery
Mike and Justin present theories and activity groupings that can be used by counselors, teachers, experiential educators, and facilitators to return individuals or whole groups to a more focused frame of mind. By understanding locus, or the center of control within, we can learn to increase our abilities to control our own energy. This helps all of us positively contribute to achieving the goals of the groups we are in. The methods presented here can be used to frontload learning, to sustain group momentum, to energize initiatives and to provide new streams of insight during processing. Add this book to your leadership toolbox here.
11. Tips and Tools: The Art of Experiential Group Facilitation by Jennifer Stanchfield
Facilitation is an art. By its very nature it is an experiential practice; an ever dynamic process of give and take, learning and development.
Jen Stanchfield’s Tips & Tools: the Art of Experiential Group Facilitation explores the facilitator’s role in groups of all kinds and offers creative tools and activities to enhance group experience. Tips & Tools serves as a guide and an inspiration for teachers and group facilitators looking to spark their creativity and enhance their own unique style. We also carry a few of Jen’s awesome items in our online store. Add this book to your leadership toolbox here.
Bonus Book! Team Building Activities for STEM Groups by Kyle Price (Of course we love this one!)
STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) classes seem like torture to most students.We found ourselves asking the question that many people before us have been troubled with: How can we teach STEM concepts in a way that engages and excites students at any age?
Combining our love for both STEM and team building activities, we took 50 STEM activities that help engage students in learning. Each activity includes questions for discussion, step-by-step instructions, and information about resources needed to complete the activity. Add this book to your leadership toolbox here.
What book could you not live without? Did I leave something off of the list? I would love to read your favorite.