15 Leadership Activities for High School Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng


15 Leadership Activities for High School Students

High school students seeking to sharpen their leadership skills have a wealth of activities at their disposal. Engaging in leadership activities is essential for personal growth and success in college applications.

So, let’s explore practical steps and activities that can transform you into a standout leader. We’ll offer insights into how to elevate your leadership capabilities through real-world experience.

1. Student Government

Participation in student government is a classic avenue for demonstrating leadership skills. Elected positions provide a platform for advocating student interests and influencing school policies and events.


To achieve success in student government, start by understanding the needs and concerns of your fellow students. Campaign on a platform that addresses these issues with clear, actionable solutions. Once elected, maintain open communication with both the student body and school administration. Organize regular meetings to discuss progress on initiatives and gather feedback, ensuring your leadership is both effective and responsive to the needs of your peers.

2. Interest Clubs or Organizations

Starting a club or organization at your school is a powerful way to demonstrate initiative and leadership. For example, students who have founded STEM clubs have not only fostered a community of like-minded peers but also enhanced their organizational, planning, and team management skills. This kind of initiative is a prime example of leadership activities for high school students that colleges and employers look for.

To start a club effectively, first gather a group of interested students and draft a mission statement that clearly defines the club’s purpose and goals. Next, secure a faculty advisor and gain approval from your school’s administration. Finally, organize regular meetings and actively recruit members through school announcements and social media channels to build your membership.

3. Youth Advocacy Groups

Joining or establishing a youth advocacy group allows high school students to take a stand on issues affecting their generation, such as mental health, education reform, or environmental protection. Leadership in these groups is demonstrated through organizing campaigns, speaking at events, and engaging with community leaders.

To effectively lead in youth advocacy, begin by identifying an issue you are passionate about and research existing groups or the need for a new group. Then, recruit like-minded peers and create a strategic plan outlining your goals, target audience, and methods of engagement. Utilizing social media for outreach and organizing events can significantly amplify your group’s voice and impact.

4. Volunteering

Volunteer organizations or community groups outside of school allows students to make a tangible difference while building leadership skills. Students who lead initiatives for youth clubs, religious organizations, or nonprofit agencies gain valuable experience in guiding teams, organizing events, and making strategic decisions.

To excel in volunteer leadership roles, identify an organization or group whose mission aligns with your interests. Start by volunteering in various capacities to understand the organization’s needs and how it operates.

When ready, take on more responsibilities or propose new projects that address gaps or opportunities you’ve identified. Effective leadership in these roles requires being proactive, reliable, and open to feedback, ensuring that your efforts lead to positive outcomes for the organization and your personal growth as a leader.

5. Community Service Projects

Organizing a community service project demonstrates leadership by addressing local needs and motivating others to contribute positively. Successful projects, like a food drive that collected thousands of pounds of food for local pantries, highlight a student’s ability to lead and inspire.

To effectively organize a community service project, start by identifying a specific need in your community that you’re passionate about. Then, create a detailed plan that outlines the project’s goals, required resources, and a timeline. Engaging your peers and promoting the event through social media and community bulletin boards will ensure broader participation and impact.

business students brainstorming

6. Business Ventures

Starting a small business offers high school students a unique opportunity to develop leadership skills through real-world experience. Managing a venture, like a bake sale, online shop, or tutoring service, requires planning, marketing, and problem-solving. These values showcase leadership potential to colleges and future employers.

To launch an effective entrepreneurial venture, identify a product or service that addresses a need or interest in your community. Create a business plan that outlines your goals, target market, pricing strategy, and marketing approach. Utilize social media and word-of-mouth to promote your venture. Managing the financial aspects carefully and being responsive to customer feedback are crucial steps in leading your venture to success.

7. Research Projects

Leading a research project allows students to demonstrate leadership in an academic context. Collaborating with peers or faculty on research in a subject of interest shows the ability to initiate projects, coordinate tasks, and drive a team towards shared objectives.

To lead a research project effectively, start by identifying a topic that sparks your interest and offers potential for in-depth study. Gather a team of interested peers or seek a mentor among the faculty who can provide guidance and support. Plan the project carefully, dividing tasks among team members and setting deadlines to ensure steady progress.

Presenting your findings at school events, science fairs, or academic conferences can further demonstrate your leadership and commitment to advancing knowledge in your chosen field.

8. Creative Projects

Leading a creative project, such as a school play, art exhibition, or literary magazine, showcases a student’s ability to manage diverse tasks, from organizing auditions to curating submissions. This type of leadership involves inspiring creativity, ensuring collaboration, and meeting deadlines.

To effectively lead a creative arts project, begin with a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Assemble a dedicated team of students who share your enthusiasm and allocate roles based on each member’s strengths and interests. Regular meetings to track progress, resolve issues, and maintain motivation are crucial.

Promoting the project through school announcements and social media will attract a wider audience, ensuring the project’s success and showcasing your leadership skills.

9. School Newspaper or Media Team

Taking a leadership role in the school newspaper or media team is an excellent opportunity for students to develop and showcase their leadership skills. This includes overseeing content creation, editing, and publication processes. Leaders in these roles are responsible for setting the publication’s direction, encouraging teamwork, and ensuring deadlines are met.

To lead a school newspaper or media team effectively, establish clear goals and a vision for what the publication should achieve. Work closely with team members to delegate tasks according to each person’s strengths and interests. Promoting your newspaper or media content across school platforms will increase engagement and showcase the results of your leadership efforts.

10. Sports

Taking on a leadership role in a sports team, such as captain or co-captain, is about much more than just playing the game. It involves inspiring teammates, fostering teamwork, and demonstrating sportsmanship. Leaders in sports settings often set the tone for their teams, influencing both the team’s culture and its success on the field.

soccer sport manager in business suit coach and football player on stadium with green grass and white ball

To be an effective sports team leader, focus on developing strong communication skills and a positive attitude. Show commitment by being the first to practice and the last to leave. Additionally, regularly organize team-building activities to strengthen bonds between teammates. This approach not only enhances team performance but also solidifies your leadership and interpersonal skills.

11. Mentorship and Peer Tutoring

Participating in mentorship and peer tutoring programs is an excellent way for high school students to showcase leadership. These activities not only help improve academic outcomes for peers but also develop the mentor’s communication, empathy, and leadership skills. A study shows that students involved in peer tutoring programs often see improvements in grades, highlighting the impact of student-led academic support.

Achieving success in mentorship and peer tutoring involves first identifying your strengths and subjects in which you excel. Then, volunteer for programs that match your skills with the needs of your peers. Being reliable, patient, and proactive in providing support will enhance your effectiveness as a mentor or tutor, solidifying your role as a leader among your peers.

12. Public Speaking Competitions

Participating in public speaking competitions is a dynamic way for high school students to hone their communication and leadership skills. Excelling in these competitions demonstrates a student’s ability to articulate ideas clearly and persuasively—a key trait of effective leaders.

To excel in public speaking, start by practicing your speech or presentation extensively. Seek feedback from teachers, peers, or mentors to refine your content and delivery. Additionally, watch videos of skilled public speakers to learn various techniques and styles. Participating regularly in competitions will not only improve your speaking abilities but also build confidence in your leadership capabilities.

13. Cultural Exchange Programs

Participating in cultural exchange programs is another excellent way for high school students to develop leadership skills. These programs broaden a student’s perspective, enhance cultural awareness, and improve communication skills across diverse backgrounds—key qualities of effective global leaders.

To participate in a cultural exchange program, research programs that align with your interests and offer opportunities for meaningful cultural immersion. Prepare by learning about the host culture and language, which will enable you to engage more deeply during the exchange.

Actively participating in all aspects of the program and reflecting on your experiences afterward can maximize the benefits of the exchange, enhancing your leadership capabilities and global understanding.

14. Leadership Workshops and Seminars

Participating in leadership workshops and seminars offered by external organizations provide valuable insights into effective communication, time management, decision-making, and emotional intelligence, among other skills. This is a direct way for high school students to engage in activities that build upon and refine their leadership potential.

To maximize the benefits of attending leadership workshops and seminars, actively participate in sessions and take notes on key learnings that you can apply to your own leadership style. Networking with speakers and fellow attendees can also provide mentorship opportunities and insights into different leadership paths.

After attending, implement the strategies and skills learned in your daily activities and leadership roles, and share your new knowledge with peers to further develop your leadership influence.

15. Part-Time Jobs or Internships

Securing part-time jobs or internships relevant to a student’s interests and career goals offers hands-on experience in a professional setting. This experience is invaluable for developing leadership skills, such as teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. These activities not only enhance a student’s resume but also provide a practical context for applying and growing leadership skills outside the classroom.

To effectively gain leadership experience through part-time jobs or internships, approach your tasks with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Seek opportunities to take on additional responsibilities and demonstrate your capability to lead and manage projects. Building a good relationship with your supervisor and coworkers can also lead to mentorship opportunities and further career development.

How can leadership activities boost college applications?

Participating in leadership activities as a high school student can significantly enhance your college applications. Colleges and universities value applicants who have demonstrated the ability to lead, showing initiative, responsibility, and the capacity to influence others positively.

Moreover, leadership roles in high school activities provide tangible examples of a student’s skills and achievements. When students detail their leadership experiences, such as organizing a community service project or leading a student organization, they offer admissions committees insights into their character and potential for future success.

What are the key qualities of a student leader?

The key qualities of a student leader include effective communication, empathy, and resilience. Leaders who communicate clearly and persuasively can unite their teams and motivate their peers toward common goals. Empathy allows student leaders to understand and connect with others, fostering a supportive and collaborative environment. Resilience is crucial for navigating the inevitable challenges and setbacks that come with leadership roles.

Additionally, student leaders exhibit initiative and problem-solving skills. They are not afraid to take on new challenges and are always looking for ways to improve their team or organization. These qualities are not only vital for success in high school leadership activities but also in college and future careers. Developing these traits through leadership activities for high school students can set a strong foundation for lifelong success.

How do I balance my academic responsibilities with my leadership roles?

Balancing academic responsibilities with leadership roles is a skill that requires planning and prioritization. Effective time management is key; creating a schedule that allocates specific times for studying, leadership activities, and personal downtime can help ensure that none of these areas suffer. This approach allows students to fulfill their academic obligations while also committing to their leadership roles, ensuring both areas are given the attention they deserve.

Moreover, leveraging resources such as peer support, mentor advice, and organizational tools can significantly ease the balancing act. Delegating tasks within your leadership roles can also lighten your load, teaching you valuable lessons in trust and teamwork. By approaching both academics and leadership activities with a strategic mindset, students can excel in both arenas without becoming overwhelmed.

Young beautiful woman wearing yellow shirt reading a book at home.

What books on leadership should student leaders read?

Reading books on leadership is a vital activity for high school students looking to develop their leadership skills. Renowned leadership books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey or How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie offer timeless insights into effective leadership and personal growth. These books have shaped the leadership styles of many successful individuals by providing actionable advice and deep understanding of human behavior and organizational dynamics.

To effectively gain from reading leadership books, actively engage with the material. Take notes, highlight key points, and reflect on how the insights apply to your personal experiences and goals. To remember and apply these insights, try discussing the books with a mentor or peers, or even starting a book club focused on leadership topics. This can transform reading from a solitary activity into an interactive and practical learning experience, reinforcing the lessons learned.

How do I boost my confidence to take on leadership roles?

Boosting confidence to take on leadership roles begins with stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing opportunities for growth. Start with small leadership tasks and gradually take on more significant challenges as your confidence grows. Each success builds your confidence, and even when you face setbacks, you’ll learn valuable lessons that prepare you for future leadership opportunities. Remember, confidence comes from action, reflection, and resilience.

Additionally, seeking feedback from trusted mentors or peers can provide constructive insights into your leadership style and areas for improvement. Engaging in workshops and training sessions focused on leadership skills can also bolster your confidence. By continuously seeking to learn and improve, you’ll naturally become more confident in your ability to lead effectively.


Leadership activities for high school students are crucial opportunities for personal growth and development. By engaging in these activities, students not only enhance their college applications but also lay the groundwork for future success in any career path they choose.

Remember, the journey to becoming a great leader is ongoing and filled with learning opportunities at every step. Embrace each experience with an open mind and a willing heart, and you’ll find that your potential to lead and inspire knows no bounds.


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