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Penny Toss

Penny Toss

Props/Prep: Yes
Time: 25 min
Audience: Any (teams)
Physical: Yes

Activity: Four teams toss pennies into a box outlined on the floor in masking tape while supervised by a specific leader. Each team rotates through all leaders every 3 minutes. This activity is great for utilization in the classroom when the content is focused on leadership styles. A great activity to get everyone up and moving around the classroom and for 4 individuals to role play.

Time Requirements: 25 minutes

Materials needed: masking tape, at least 100 pennies, and Penny Toss ‘leadership style’ Character Cards (see below)

Procedure: Before class, use masking tape to create four 2’x2’ boxes at the corners of the classroom. Designate 4 students as leaders and keep them aside, while you divide your students into 4 equal teams. Send each team of students to one box in the room. Quickly give your leaders their directions. They are to act in a specific leadership style in directing students at their boxes. See leadership style cards. Send your leaders to their box. When you say ‘go’, each leader will have 3 minutes to ‘instruct’ their team on how to throw the pennies into the box. You should instruct the entire class that they will stand approximately 8-10 feet away from their box on the floor while participating in this activity. Every 3 minutes, the teams will rotate to a new box, while the leaders remain at their original boxes. All teams will get to experience all types of leadership from the different leaders. 

When they have completed the circuit, have the teams meet and discuss;

  • the types of leaders they observed
  • what strengths and weaknesses each leader brought to the activity
  • how it affected the group members and activity success

Function in Class: This activity is great to use when discussing the pros and cons of different leadership styles and how these styles affect the team or individual employees. It is a great activity to start a class with, or as an application tool, once content has been presented.

Source: Jeff Short (The Business School)

Penny Toss Leadership Style Character Card

You are an authoritarian leader. You believe that you know best, and everyone should do what you say. You give specific direction to how far each participant stands away from the box, how they throw the penny, how many pennies they can have at one time, how many pennies they can throw at one time, etc. You may have participants line up single file, ten feet from the box, and give out one penny at a time when the participant gets to the front of the line. You also are very concerned about keeping score. You are very bossy. 

Penny Toss Leadership Style Character Card

You are a laissez-faire leader. You believe that if you smile, relax and just stand next to the box providing the pennies that everyone will figure it out. You are very pleasant but do not give much of any directions whatsoever. You answer questions about the rules of the game with a smile, and say comments like, "Whatever you like."  "I’m sure it will work out." etc. You do not provide any game or group structure whatsoever.

Penny Toss Leadership Style Character Card

You are the team builder leader. You are very positive, and try to foster cooperation and collaboration in your team. You encourage them to work together to come up with the best collaborative plan possible to get the pennies into the box. You smile a lot, and say lots of encouraging things like:  "That’s a great idea."  "Working together is great." etc. You don’t actually tell them to do anything, rather you give endless encouragement when they make any attempt at figuring out how to accomplish the goal.

Penny Toss Leadership Style Character Card

You are the high energy leader. You are intent on having a great time. Pleasure and fun are the focus of your leadership directions to your team. You are not as interested in the goal of the game as the process, and making sure its FUN & HIGH ENERGY! You are easily sidetracked by all the interactions taking place, and may even abandon the game altogether if one of the group members suggests something more fun like going to the snack shop or something else. Whether or not you actually get your team members to toss pennies into the box doesn’t matter, you just want to have fun!