Some people seem like they are just naturally born leaders. Even as young kids, they’ll take over a situation and others will gravitate towards their leadership. You notice this in young kids, teenagers, and adults. But not everybody is a born leader – and that’s okay! You can learn leadership skills at any point in life. The teenage years are when you’ll really see some people
There are certain personality traits that will help somebody be a better leader, but even if you weren’t born with a strong personality, or incredible charisma, you can still earn the respect of those around you and fill a leadership role.
Psychology Today suggests that today’s youth don’t necessarily see the distinction between being social, or being a leader:
What today’s younger teenagers don’t understand is that being sociable doesn’t necessarily equate to being a leader. Oftentimes, traits such as creativity and intelligence are overlooked by teens and aren’t considered important qualities to look for in a leader.source
The Qualities of a Good Leader – Can They Be Learned by Teenagers?
Here are some of the qualities that one would look for in a great leader. It can vary depending on the role, and in some cases all of these traits might not even be advantageous, but here’s a good rule of thumb. How many of the items on this youth leadership skills list do you possess? Which ones do you
- Integrity: You can practice integrity and learn it, just be true to your word, and make sure you’re doing the right thing. People respect someone with integrity, and have a very tough time following somebody who lacks it.
- Delegation skills: Knowing the best members of your team to work on any project, to play to their strengths, while not taking on all of the workload yourself, is a key aspect of being a strong leader.
- Communication: This is one of the most important. Your team members won’t laways agree with you on everything, but being able to communicate where you’re coming from will help with getting everyone to buy-in.
- Self-awareness: Have you ever had a manager or a boss who seems to have zero self-awareness, comes off as a total hypocrite, and is almost impossible to respect? It’s the worst!
- Charisma: Charisma helps a great deal, it’s not an essential traits and respect for your leadership can be built without charisma, but it can sure help.
- Empathy: Empathy for those that you’re leading will help build a mutual respect.
- Self-control: Whether it means biting your tongue instead of lashing back at someone who is being rude and trying to have empathy for them instead, or simply understanding that leadership takes a greater degree of dedication – self-control is an important trait for leaders to possess.
5 Ways To Improve Leadership for Teens
Here are some ideas of things you can do in your life if you want to strengthen the traits that are required to be a strong leader, or if you want to gain experience in a leadership role.
6. Sports and Other Clubs
Most schools should have a handful of youth leadership programs for high school students, but they aren’t already directly labelled as such. For example, any sports team presents an opportunity for individuals to rise to a role of leadership, even though it’s a team environment. You don’t have to be the team captain to step us as a leader, but it’s also important to learn when to play as a team and to not try to take over when it’s not your role.
Sometimes, it can be as simple as reaching out to a new student or a new member of the club and making them feel welcome. Even if you aren’t designated as the leader, you can still demonstrate and work on leadership skills that will earn you the respect of those around you.
There are numerous teen volunteer opportunities in your city. At first, you will be a subordinate and you will have to learn the ropes and do exactly what you’re told, since the people running the volunteer program know what it takes. But as time passes, you’ll earn more and more respect there, and you’ll prove yourself, and eventually you can start to thrive in more of a leadership role.
Certain teen volunteer opportunities lend themselves better to learning and practicing leadership – but just remember that “teenage leadership” is a collection of different skills and abilities, and you can always work on at lease some of those skills, whether it’s charisma, empathy, integrity, or others – no matter what you’re doing.
4. Leadership Camps for Teenagers
We’ve talked about a number of ways to incorporate leadership into your day to day life, but there are also camps that are specifically designed to help teenagers learn leadership. These camps will have a number of people at them, who all have a common interest of improving their skills in leadership. It can also be a great place to network and meet new people who are also ambitious.
Simply being mindful about the idea of improving your leadership skills, and thinking of the individual traits that help make you a better leader, and reflecting on times that you’ve fallen short and how you could do better is a great way to always be improving. Of course, you don’t want to drive yourself crazy with it or anything, but having a certain mindfulness throughout the various situations you’ll encounter in life can help you become a better leader without really doing anything differently, other than analyzing your life.
2. Teenage Leadership In Your Community
You can display and work on the traits of a good leader in your community, whether it means helping people that look like they need help – like helping a neighbour carry their groceries to their door, or mowing their lawn, or something a little more involved like going to city council meetings to get a stop sign installed at a dangerous intersection that needs one.
1. Local Politics
If you really want to make your community a better place, then becoming involved in local politics can be a great way to meet people, and there are ample opportunities for good people to find leadership roles.
Whether it’s starting a small grassroots organization to push for a specific change in your area, or volunteering with your local politician that you like and agree with, knocking doors to canvas your neighbors and talk to them and learn about their views, or even planting the seeds to run for a local political position in the future as a stepping stone for greater involvement… all of these things will offer great practice towards building leadership for teenagers.
Teenage Leadership Examples: Rising To The Challenge
Here are some examples of teenagers who have stepped up to to the challenge of leadership, in a variety of different ways, sometimes at great personal cost to themselves.
Greta Thunberg: She has taken on some of the world’s most powerful people and faced endless and relentless bullying from adults all around the world, in her pursuit to protect the environment and to improve the climate crisis.
Malala Yousafzai: She published an anonymous diary when she was just 11 years old, talking about the struggles in her life and community living under the rule of war criminals. She started years before being a teenager, and has kept up her activism ever since.
Rishab Jain: This young scientist started making medical innovations when he was just 13 years old, and he’s now the leader of a non-profit to help children.
Haile Thomas: She is becoming a leader in the world of youth nutrition, and an advocate for education and resources to help youth lead healthier and happier lives.
Further Reading: Recommended Leadership Books for Teenagers
Here are some leadership books for teenagers that can give you a much more in-depth appreciate for the necessary skills, and how to curate them in your life or the life of someone you care about.
7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens: This is a verison of a popular book that’s been adapted for teenagers. What are the 7 habits of highly effective teens?
How to Win Friends and Influence People: This is one of the classic books on the topic of leadership, treating people well, and getting them to like and respect you. It’s a must-read for anyone with an interest in leadership, especially leadership for teens.
Teen Leadership Revolution: This book looks at why some teens fall apart after high school, but others go on to achieve great things, and how you can position yourself to be in the latter group.
The Success Principles for Teens: Here’s another good book that looks at the idea of planting a strong foundation for leading and success as a teen.
Final Thoughts on Leadership for Teenagers
Leadership for teenagers is something that you can learn and improve, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you. There are different styles of leadership, and there’s no one size fits all. You can look at all of the necessary skills, and pick and choose the ones that fit your strengths, and work on the ones that you need to work on. Over time, you’ll form your own style of leadership, based on your strengths and weaknesses.