One of the most important benefits of earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is the opportunity to develop and enhance your leadership abilities. Core coursework in all seven online MBA programs offered by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) helps you expand your capacity for leadership through studying the nuances of organizational behavior and theory. This includes examining topics like interpersonal relations, conflict management, personality differences and team building.

The in-depth examination of individual, group and intergroup behavior provides you with an understanding of the many factors that underpin effective leadership skills, such as the ability to foster communicative, collaborative, creative and high-performing teams. These teams engender the positive workplace culture that successful organizations are built on. Yet team building efforts can be challenging and even detrimental if they come off too forced or contrived; take up employee nonworking hours; or if they simply feel like an extra meaningless and time-consuming obligation at work.

A more natural way to foster teamwork and communication is to integrate team building into everyday activities like meetings. For instance, meeting icebreakers can be an excellent way to increase workplace communication and inject a bit of fun into everyone’s day without taking up valuable employee time. Icebreakers alleviate tension in the room, inspire creativity and help introduce groups of people who do not know each other very well. Below you will find examples of seven icebreakers that can be effective in a work meeting environment.

Getting to Know One Another

  1. A popular meeting icebreaker is Two Truths and a Lie, where everyone must write down or think of two truths and one lie about themselves to share with the group. This can provide for some hilarious and interesting results as the group tries to determine which statement is the lie.

Break the Tension and Relax

  1. Fear in a Hat is an excellent meeting icebreaker to use in groups of eight to 20 people. Everyone gets a sheet of paper and writes down a fear that they have about work, an upcoming project or just the overall week, month or year. Everyone places their fears in a hat anonymously and then the different scraps of paper are pulled out and discussed as a group.
  2. The Ghost icebreaker is excellent for moving the mind away from day-to-day work activities and on to a fun brain-stimulating activity. Ghost game is word game where individuals take turns adding letters to a word fragment without ever spelling out a word.
  3. Sometimes, getting up on your feet and moving around can be very beneficial in a work environment. Human rock, paper, scissors is a great meeting icebreaker that forces people out of their usual sitting position. Split into two groups and give each group time to time to decide whether they will be rock, paper or scissors. Then have the two groups face each other, and at the count of three, have each group take on a human version of what equates to rock, paper or scissors.

Inspire Creativity and Ideas

  1. Telephone Pictionary is just like it sounds — a combination of the telephone game and Pictionary. One person writes down a phrase on the first page of a booklet. The next person then attempts to draw the phrase, the third person writes a phrase interpreting the image, and this goes on until the booklet is returned to the original phrase creator.
  2. Story Starter requires you to have a handful of ways to begin a story, such as “Once upon a time I … “. Everyone chooses a story starter and completes it with one or two sentences. The entire group votes on the most interesting one.
  3. React and Act is similar to charades where individuals act out a specific event, such as winning the lottery, using gestures, words and facial expressions. The rest of the group must try to guess what action caused the reaction.

The above are just several examples of the many icebreakers you can use at meetings to help your employees develop into cohesive, creative and collaborative teams. Expanding your toolkit of team building exercises that feel genuine, fun and — importantly — like a beneficial use of your employees’ time will help you be effective in numerous leadership positions across industries.

Learn more about TAMUC-CC’s online MBA programs.