Become a leader with your friends by doing common activities.

As humans, we are intrinsically wired to be social and relational beings. We’re drawn to our tribe of people, and invest both time and energy into making sure those friendships are secure—but do you ever think how these friendships can help you with your business or career?

One way to grow professionally is the same way you’ve grown personally: spending time with your friends. These important people teach us foundational lessons in acceptance, communication, dependability, teamwork, conflict resolution and integrity, all of which reinforce another valuable trait—leadership. The people we surround ourselves with inform the kind of leaders we become in the world.

This is especially true as you step out of your usual hangouts and into different settings, using the ideas shared below. As you explore the idea of learning leadership skills with your friends, tune in and pay attention to:

  • Where your focus goes and how you engage in certain activities
  • The role you assume within your relationship
  • Opportunities to grow in a leadership capacity, like helping a friend in need

Use these ideas to have fun with your friends, while giving everyone a chance to develop their leadership skills.

Join a Recreational Sports League

Most residential areas offer recreation athletics through local groups, whether it’s the YMCA or one specific to your region. This is the perfect opportunity to spend time with friends, stay active, and step into a leadership role in a fun, low-stress situation. Experts at Emergenetics International suggest that team sports highlight the skills you may immediately think of, like teamwork and communication, in addition to those that aren’t so obvious, like strategic development and self-discipline.

The best part: it doesn’t matter what sport you play; choose sports you and your friends already love, whether that’s tennis or basketball. Remember, however, that team sports will allow you to gain the most benefit.

Serve in the Community Together

Volunteering your time, effort, and resources not only benefits the community, but also offers you hands-on leadership training. Not to mention, you finish the day feeling accomplished and great about yourself, which motivates you to do more to help others.

This generosity is a key trait for any successful leader as well, and can make a strong impact on company culture. “Generosity, in other words, is the ultimate silo destroyer. CEOs who model it inspire the most elusive of goals: a work force in which everyone develops everyone else,” says Leigh Buchanan, Editor-at-Large for Inc.com.

These altruistic endeavors also teach you to lead outside your comfort zone with confidence, enthusiasm, social consciousness, and an attitude that motivates people around you to take action. The best part is that there are likely dozens of volunteering opportunities in your region. Check sites like Volunteer Match and Create the Good to find something that excites you and your friends.

Tune in During a Game of Poker

If poker night isn’t already established within your circle of friends, start it as a new tradition. Not only is it fun to barter with friends, but the game of poker equips you for being a successful tactical leader. “Poker is a strategy game. The idea behind poker is to play each hand as perfectly as possible, while driving your opponent to play their hand as imperfectly as possible,” suggests Mats Johnson, Executive Director for Global Poker.

To play well, you have to measure the risks involved, succeed under pressure, and anticipate other people’s behavior—and then troubleshoot, if needed, and make your move. As you move up the ladder, or hire new people for your own company, you’ll find leadership in business requires a very similar mindset.

Sign Up for a Group Fitness Class

From yoga to CrossfFit, there are dozens of ways to stay active with your friends, and the positive outcomes are endless. If your friends already work out, take your sessions to a group setting once in a while, where the lessons in leadership transfer far beyond the studio.

Proficient leaders exhibit strength in both their minds and bodies. They know caring for themselves is what fuels their ability to support and inspire others. Al Gonzalez, veteran leadership expert, found that when he started focusing on exercise and fitness, his leadership transformed. He was happier, had a clearer mind, and felt more inspired and wanted to inspire others.

Joining a sports team, or even simply working out with your friends, is a great way to improve your leadership skills in these key areas.

Become a Leader With Friends by Your Side

All emerging leaders can find inspiration and learning in every area of our lives, including in the time we spend with our friends. We can treat our friendships as laboratories for learning about leadership, and how we operate and lead within a group. In the process, you get to spend more time together and empower them to improve professionally and personally as well. Choose some different activities, tune in, and watch yourself transform as a leader.