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Demonstrating Leadership in High School

As you make your way through high school, one sentiment you’ll hear repeatedly is that colleges value applicants who demonstrate leadership.  And while that’s a useful piece of information, you might be wondering how exactly one emerges as a leader.  After all, you’re a solitary person in a student body that likely numbers in the hundreds or thousands.  How do you distinguish yourself?  Naturally, we have a few suggestions for you!

Get Some Experience

Listen, we think it’s great that you want to take charge and make a mark on your school.  However, you can’t expect to immediately become president of the environmental club or an editor of the school newspaper.  Sheer desire is rarely enough to automatically propel you to the top.  You first need to get involved and demonstrate your passion and interest.  Moreover, you have to learn how a club functions and recognize the goals of said organization.  After all, how can you expect to lead if you don’t understand the processes that are in place?

Maintain Good Humor and Optimism

It’s inevitable that we will all encounter trials and tribulations in our lives.  However, what separates a good leader from bad is how he/she handles stumbling blocks.  Strong leaders don’t get stymied instantly nor do they dissolve into a pool of negativity.  Instead, they know how to rally the troops and retain focus in spite of issues.  They prove themselves to be dependable and demonstrate that they can barrel through (or around) obstacles.  And great leaders convince others that they can do the same!

Learn from Your Mistakes

Mistakes are another one of life’s inevitabilities.  We’re all going to make them.  And that’s a fact.  However, great leaders don’t shy away from mistakes.  Nor do they sweep them under the metaphorical rug and deny that they happened.  Instead, leaders understand it’s important to own up to a mistake.  They view errors as learning opportunities and recognize how to grow from them.

Be Confident

Confidence is key to achieving a leadership position.  Think about it; would you want to take orders from someone who ends every statement with a question?  Do you want to follow someone who stares at his/her feet when making conversation?  People are much more willing to get behind a person who is poised and self-assured.  If you don’t believe in yourself why should anyone else?

Consider Your Strengths

If you hate public speaking, there’s not much sense in attempting to become president of the debate team.  It doesn’t matter if a club is the largest, the most popular or an organization you think might attract attention from colleges.  There’s no sense in climbing the ranks if you’re miserable.  Instead, focus on activities and topics about which you’re passionate.  Your enthusiasm and sincerity will shine through.  And that will allow people to put their trust in you!

Be a People Person

To be a successful leader requires strong interpersonal skills.  You’ll need to be a solid listener and great communicator.  Further, you have to be open to other people’s ideas and follow the golden rule of treating others as you’d like to be treated.  Above all, everyone wants to feel valued and know that their voice has been heard.

It’s great that you’re thinking about pursuing a leadership role at school.  Helping to run a club is a fantastic way to challenge yourself and to anchor yourself within your school community.  Follow these simple rules and you’ll be running the show in no time!


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Don Munce