Have you ever told yourself that you’re not a leader? We’re willing to bet it’s not true. Why? Because student leadership isn’t about titles. It’s about influence. Whether you realize it or not, there is someone looking up to you. It could be your little brother or sister. Maybe it’s the kid who sits in the back row of your math class. Either way, it’s time to start seeing yourself as a leader. We’re going to let you in on five student leadership hacks every teen should know.
1. Realize Your Choices Matter
Unless you’re living in a bubble, your choices matter to those around you. Maybe you’ve never thought about it before, but the way you talk to your teachers matters. The way you treat your friends matters. We’ve already established that you influence someone. Instead of letting that freak you out, you can see it as an opportunity. Because people are watching, you have the ability to positively influence those around you. It could be something as simple as sitting with the kid who always eats alone in the cafeteria. Or maybe you decide to be the only person at the party who doesn’t drink. Positive or negative, your choices matter both to you and to those around you.
2. Learn 360-Degree Student Leadership
You’re probably wondering, “What in the world is 360-degree leadership?” This concept comes from leadership expert John Maxwell. So many people make the mistake of thinking that leadership only goes in one direction – a boss or teacher telling employees or students what to do. While this is one form of leadership, it’s also possible to lead in other directions. The truth is – you have the ability to lead those beside you. At times, you even have the ability to lead those above you. It doesn’t mean you try to tell them what to do. It means you lead by example. Seeing yourself as a leader, not a follower, is an important part of student leadership.
3. Choose Your Friends Wisely
One of the greatest friendship quotes of all time says, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” That might sting a little bit, but it’s 100% true. The friends you surround yourself with will have a direct effect on your future. If you want to get good grades and make positive choices, find friends who want to do the same. On the other hand, if you spend all of your time with people who don’t take school seriously and constantly make bad decisions, they’re going to pull you down that path too. It doesn’t mean you can never talk to those people again. It just means it’s okay to distance yourself from them and surround yourself with positive influences instead.
4. Be Willing to Take Risks
Sometimes being a leader means being the first. That can be scary, but it can also be really exciting. Maybe you want to be the first student to open an art club at your school. Or maybe you want to be the first one of your friends to sign up for honors classes or apply for college. Sometimes leadership means taking a risk. It helps to ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen if I fail?” Most of the time, the worst really isn’t that bad. Pursue the dream that you have, even if it scares you.
5. Believe You Can Change the World
Perhaps the greatest student leadership hack of all time is simply believing that you can change the world. Sometimes this idea can feel overwhelming because the world is so big. But what if you start thinking of the “world” as your school or your soccer team? Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so impossible. You don’t have to change the whole world, just the part that you influence. The more you believe that, the more it will affect the choices you make and the things you do on a daily basis.
Overall, we hope these five student leadership hacks help you as you begin to lead those around you like never before. It’s normal to doubt yourself. But, when you do, remember that you are a leader and you can change the world.