6 Secrets to Becoming an Inspiring Teen Leader!

What does it take to be an inspiring leader?

Discover 6 leadership skills that you can master!

1. Stand up for what you believe in. 

Teen boy standing in front a of microphone

What this looks like: Inspiring teen leaders are champions for doing the right thing. They have strong values that are important to them, like honesty, justice, and kindness. They act according to those values—even when it’s difficult—like being the first person to stand up for a classmate who is being teased about the way they look. 

Try it: Think about your values. Do your actions already represent your values? How can you make your actions more consistent with your values? Discuss your answers with an adult you trust.

2. Respect others and be fair. 

Teens at a party

What this looks like: Inspiring leaders are humble and listen to the points of view of others. They lead by letting everyone participate and looking out for those whose voices aren’t being heard. They celebrate cultural differences, challenge stereotypes, and believe that everyone has something valuable to offer. Motivational leaders know that before they can support and mobilize others, they first need to understand them. Empathy—the ability to truly understand the needs of others and imagine what they might be feeling—is one of the most important traits of a good leader.

Try it: Listen as much as you talk in conversations and keep an open mind when others share their experiences and opinions. In groups, ask questions like, “Who else has an opinion on this topic?” Look around the room and ask those who have not participated if they have something to share. Seek out stories and information from people with a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. One way to cultivate empathy is to imagine yourself in other people’s shoes, especially those whose life experiences are different from yours.

3. Help others.

A group of volunteers with a bag of apples

What this looks like: Inspiring leaders make a difference in their schools and communities by seeking opportunities to serve others. This can be as simple as reading to a younger child or helping a classmate in your favorite subject. It can involve working in a team, like starting or joining a club at school or serving food with other volunteers at a homeless shelter. 

Try it: Think about your own strengths and how you can be helpful. Here are some tips for volunteering in your community: 

  • Find a local organization with a mission you care about and contact them.
  • Get some friends together and plan something as a group. For example, you could volunteer to clean up a nearby stream or highway!

4. Be a role model.

Teen boy working on a robot with a screwdriver

What this looks like: Inspiring leaders teach others by example. They set healthy goals; make healthy choices about things like alcohol, drugs, and sex; and rise above drama to achieve their dreams. Strong leaders don’t let anyone pressure them to do things that could get them off track. They believe in themselves and learn from their mistakes instead of giving up when something goes wrong.

Try it: To be a good role model, focus on your own goals and take concrete steps to achieve them. What do YOU want out of life? Check out 4 Steps You Can Take Today to Prepare for Tomorrow, which describes how to make a vision board to discover your goals. Then, use this Goal-Setting Planner to identify specific steps to achieve them!

5. Encourage others to set and achieve goals.

Two teen girls studying

What this looks like: Inspiring leaders guide other people toward success! Motivational leaders ask others about their dreams and help them plan and take steps to achieve their goals. They show leadership by connecting others with the people and information necessary to accomplish their goals, such as local mentors or online resources. 

Try it: Listen to classmates and friends and challenge them to think about what they want out of life. Ask questions like, “When you think about your future, what does it look like?” “What does success look like to you?” “What’s the first step you need to take to reach your goal?” Show your peers your Goal-Setting Planner and encourage them to make their own. Most important, let them know that you believe in them!  

6. Follow positive role models.

Teen girl standing in front of a microphone

What this looks like: Inspiring leaders seek inspiration from others and know how to ask for mentorship and support. 

Try it: Who are your role models? Is there someone who inspires you to chase your dreams and be your best self? Having a mentor can really boost your leadership skills! Think of someone in your life who can help you set goals or develop a skill— like a teacher, coach or trusted family member or family friend. Ask if they will meet with you to share information and resources.  

How will you incorporate these 6 leadership skills into your everyday life? Start by sharing this information with your friends!