Responsible Leadership

Responsible Leadership Workshop

Aim & Context

What is the aim of the exercise?
This exercise aims at exploring the concept of leadership and establishing some common reference points regarding what it is, and what it isn’t.
In what context is this exercise useful?
This exercise is useful as it creates a general understanding of what is leadership. This allows people to understand better what constitutes a responsible leader and can provide guidance on how to improve on certain leadership traits.

Quick facts

Preparation time: 10 min
Workshop time: 80 minutes
Ideal group size: 16-20 people (groups of 4)
Contact of Workshop Developer:
Equipment and tools needed:
  • Papers
  • Pens

Detailed Description of Activity & Method

Please list step by step how the activity should be facilitated

Activity & Format
Facilitation Notes
5 min
  • Introduction of facilitators
  • Present agenda
  • If a small group, check-in on participants mood, expectations, or other.
  • Get people to ‘arrive’ in the space. This will be a highly introspective session and participants will need full presence. Ask them to get comfortable, turn off any distractions. Take 3 deep breaths.
Start with answering the check-in question by yourself and let everyone share and then hand the word over to someone else.
Individual reflection
3 min
Individually, take three minutes to write down all words that pop into your mind when you think about leadership. Anything and everything goes. Suspend judgement, just write whatever comes to mind. No good or bad answers.
Work in pairs
4 min
In pairs, run your individual list of words by each other, and try to define recurrent words/ associations/ trains of thought, as well as the words that are most different between the two of you. No good or bad answers.
Allow about a minute between team making to allow people to get together.
Work in groups of 4
10 min
In groups of four, discuss your lists of words built as pairs, and try to identify overlaps, common denominators, and the ‘outliers’. Try to discuss briefly what are the common themes, and the most specific occurrences. Look for most surprising words in comparison to your individual lists.
Ask two pairs to join together (will save time instead of making completely new teams)
Discuss together
10 min
Building on the previous outcomes, jointly discuss common themes and outliers. Contribute with background info (e.g., highlight group findings).
Discuss what is the most surprising word/ association/ Train of thought, and what idea it sparked in your understanding of leadership.
Get people to join in a circle (space allowing).
Open the discussion to everyone, allow people to speak freely.
Contribute some input and short reflection
5 min
Present the different leadership dimensions (see table bottom of page).
As you present get participants to think…
  • do they have some words in common with the ones presented?
  • Which ones do they think are most important?
5 min
Individual work
15 min
Please identify at least 3 common traits across the leadership models.
Based on the common traits, identify one figure of each of the following:
  • An obvious leader
  • A less obvious leader in your life
Make the table at bottom of page available for viewing by participants (e.g., project it on a wall, share digitally)
Present to group
15 min
Please make a short presentation of your work to your colleagues, explaining the traits you focused on, and how your ‘leaders’ display those traits.
Anyone that feels comfortable can present.
If people hesitate, the facilitator should jump in to present.
5 min
  • Debrief activity, ask them if they enjoyed it, gather quick feedback.
  • Provide logistical info about next planned workshop (if any)
  • Invite people to try the CARL leadership assessment. Once you get the results, CARL suggests readings and exercises to improve on the dimensions.
  • Check-out suggestion if small group: Get each person to say how they feel in one word after this workshop
  • Thank people for joining.

Feedforward: Tips for future facilitators

Please write us an email to [email protected] with your tips for future facilitators. Please copy-paste this webpage URL in the email so we can easily update the page.

Resources (Helpful websites or books for further reading)

CARL website:
CARL Leadership Assessment test:
Leadership dimensions: Servant, Authentic, Ethical and Socially Responsible
Socially Responsible Leadership
Self-understanding and Personal Integrity
Lead with heart
Respect others
Focus on long-term results
Taking seriously the perspective of others
Lead with vision
Focus on teambuilding
Contributing to a larger community
Listening skills
Value driven decision-making
Encourages initiative
Knowledge and Intellectual Competence
Leadership by example
Commitment to the Growth of People
Share success with the team
Values awareness
Striving for Excellence
Building Community
Drawing on experience
No tolerance for ethical violations
Last modified 1yr ago