Leadership Advice From Your Role Model

20 minutes Online activity
Learning Outcomes

This exercise helps to explore different pieces of advice on leadership styles, characteristics, attitudes, behaviour and skills. By working together participants will be able to communicate values and aspirations and to give and listen to advice.

Resources & Preparation Needed

Blank Index Cards


Divide the class in groups of 4-5 people.

Ask each group to select a role model. Everyone has one or more ideal leaders whom they have personally met or read about. Ask participants to agree on a  role model who has inspired all of  them. This role model could be an artist, a sportsman, a political leader, a sports coach, an inspiring writer, a fictional hero. Let the groups discuss for 5-10 minutes to have a clear mental picture of this leader.

Name the role model. Distribute index cards to groups.  Have them write the name of the role model (example: Mother Theresa).

Roleplay the role model. Ask each group to imagine that a young person is asking their role model for leadership advice. Ask them to write on their index card 2-3 important pieces of advice that this leader would give to this (imaginary) young person. The advice may be about leadership styles, characteristics, attitudes, behaviours, or skills. Encourage participants to limit themselves to a few short sentences. 

Collect and shuffle the cards. Ask some students to read aloud  the piece of advice from the card, without looking at the reverse of the card (without revealing the role model). 

Ask everyone else to listen carefully and guess the role model (leader) who gave this piece of advice. Invite participants to call out their guesses. 

Point out that most leaders have similar traits, perceptions, behaviours, and ideas. Ask the participant who read this piece of advice to identify the role model specified on the card.

Read similar pieces of advice. Invite other participants whose cards contain similar pieces of advice to read them aloud. Identify minor differences among these ideas. Discuss the potential impact of these differences.

Read opposing pieces of advice. Ask participants to review the piece of advice on their cards and see if it contradicts the advice read earlier. Invite any participant with such an opposing piece of advice to read it aloud from her card.

Reconcile the differences. Point out that even though these pieces of advice contradict each other, it is not as if one of them is correct and the other one is incorrect. This is because effective leadership requires a variety of flexible styles depending on the nature of the situation, the type of the followers, and the personality of the leader. Discuss the context in which each of the opposing pieces of advice would be effective.

Continue the process. Select another random participant (who has not yet read the piece of advice from her card) and read aloud the advice from her card. Follow this by guessing the role model, and reading and discussing cards with similar and opposing points of view.

Adapted from: http://thiagi.net/archive/www/pfp/IE4H/november2004.html#StructuredSharing 

Ideas For Reflection

After the discussions, ask participants to think back on the variety of advice from different role models and select one that they would like to implement in their personal and/or professional life. 

  • Which advice do you think you can apply to your life and how could you apply it?
  • How should you communicate advice? 
  • What should you avoid when giving advice? 
  • What makes you listen to/ consider a piece of advice?
Extra Material