A Situational Leadership Exercise Based on the Biology of a Starfish


  • J. Duane Hoover


An experiential group leadership exercise based on the biological characteristics of the starfish has been developed. This exercise utilizes a group leadership role that rotates through the group members as each round of the exercise unfolds. The experience component of this experiential learning exercise is distinct and produces excellent measurable student reports. Students report that there is a significant difference in the experience of being an Arm or a Leg and the experience of being the “person in charge” when they play the role of Head. This experiential differential is made more distinct in the Starfish Group Leadership exercise since the participants play the roles sequentially and have the advantage of anticipating the role of follower or leader in advance of their participation. It is the author’s opinion that this aspect of “experiential anticipation” not only enhances the intensity of the experience, but also allows participants to identify and enact chosen leadership behaviors. This exercise requires no prior preparation by the participants and can be conducted during a one-hour class period.