Leadership Skills For Students

Building leadership skills as a student will help you not only excel while in school, but also set a strong foundation for your career, and prepare you for making a positive impact in the world.

We’ll walk you through the most important leadership skills for students to have, so they can become the great leaders of the future. 

10 Essential Leadership Skills for Students

The world is always in need of strong leaders—in every facet of our lives. Strong leaders can inspire people and lead them to achieve more than they thought possible. Leadership is more than just being in charge; it’s truly setting an example for others to follow. 

Building leadership skills as a student will help you not only excel while in school, but also set a strong foundation for your career, and prepare you for making a positive impact in the world. While some people are born leaders, most great leaders are those who take the time to learn leadership skills and to practice them in their lives. We’ll walk you through the most important leadership skills for students to have, so they can become the great leaders of the future. 

What Are Leadership Skills for Students? 

Leadership skills aren’t the same as coding skills or calculus skills. They can’t be learned quickly and must be practiced and cultivated over time. Leadership skills are often called “soft skills” because they can be difficult to measure. But the thing about these soft skills is that they are versatile and can be applied anywhere you go. These leadership skills will serve you in your present and future roles, no matter what they are. They can be worked on and developed throughout your life, and you can continue to get better at them. 

Why Is Leadership Important for Students? 

As a student, you’re part of a rising generation that is inheriting a complex world; and this world will need your leadership in order to thrive. Addressing our shared global challenges calls for students like you to transform your ideals into action. 

No matter who you are there will always be a chance for you to become a leader in some capacity. The world always needs people to set great examples of doing the right thing and helping others, and it’s important to be prepared for these moments as they come. Even without an official position, you can always be a leader for your friends, family, and community. So it’s important to always be prepared to be a good leader. When official positions do come up, having solid leadership skills will help you perform to the best of your abilities. 

Leadership skills aren’t just for future positions. These same skills will benefit you right now, no matter what you’re doing. Leadership skills are all about becoming the best you can be, and that’s always something that will be valuable. Whatever your current role in life, preparing yourself to be an excellent leader will help you right now. 

10 Essential Leadership Skills

There are many ways to become a good leader, but these are 10 of the most essential leadership skills that you should start developing right now. These skills will help you become a better leader and to succeed in your current roles and future endeavors. 


Life is full of challenges and unexpected obstacles. Very rarely does something go exactly as planned. But that doesn’t mean everything will fail or fall short. That’s where resilience comes into play. Resilience is the ability to bounce back and adapt when obstacles arise or plans aren’t working out as intended, and it’s one of the most important leadership skills. 

A good leader is able to adapt plans, think on their feet in the face of adversity, and bounce back after a failure or falling just short of a goal. Without developing resilience, a shortcoming is enough to give up. But with resilience, a shortcoming is the opportunity to create something new and wonderful and to try again. To develop resilience, find comfort in ambiguity, problem solve in an uncertain world, and be willing and ready to pivot when things don’t go as planned. In the uncertain world we live in, resilience will always serve you well. 


The well-being of other people is important to good leaders. A strong leader will care about how the people around them feel and will strive to understand them and help them. That’s where empathy becomes such a crucial skill. Empathy is the ability to understand and feel with the people around you. Having empathy as a leader will help you understand people from different backgrounds and cultures. To be empathetic, you need to practice listening well and trying to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. 

To fully be empathetic, you need to practice humility. You have to be able to not focus on yourself for a while and instead humbly listen well and understand someone else. But understanding isn’t where you should stop. With your empathy, you should make sure you’re attentive to the needs of others and always be ready to offer help. 


We’re all constantly surrounded by a lot of people who have ideas about what paths we should take. It can be difficult to choose what to do and who to listen to. But with the skill of agency, you can make choices for yourself. Agency is both the ability to make your own choices and the confidence to trust your choices. Someone with agency will be able to listen to others but then choose the right path and be confident in it, even if others criticize the decision. As a leader, it’s important to be able to choose and to choose confidently when there’s so much confusion in the world. 


A naturally curious person is always looking for new discoveries, new paths, and new ideas. A curious leader is someone who will be curious about ideas, instead of passing judgment before learning more. They are ready to learn more from anyone. A curious leader will also be willing to explore new paths and new opportunities before making a decision on them. That allows leaders to find new ideas that will really benefit them and those around them because they won’t get caught up in passing judgment. Instead, they’re simply interested in learning more. 


There are always scary and uncertain parts of being a leader. But good leaders don’t let that fear stop them from making choices, doing hard things, or trying new ideas. They have courage or the ability to act despite the fear and uncertainty around them. Courage doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid or always completely sure of what you’re doing, but it means that you act anyway. A courageous leader will also motivate those around them to act with courage. 

Belief in Equity

The world is full of unfairness, and not everybody has the same opportunities. Equity is making it so that everyone has the same opportunities and in making the world more fair. While a student leader may not be able to create equity in the entire world, a good leader will have a strong belief in equity and be an active champion for equity for all. Wherever you are in life now, you can start right now and begin championing equity and equal opportunity for everyone. 

Strong Convictions

While anyone can be a strong leader, a good leader is generally someone who passionately believes in their cause. They have strong beliefs and values, and they align their life with those values. Those strong convictions will give you, as a leader, the passion and drive to keep on working, even when the going is tough. 

A good leader will also have a strong belief in their team and the people around them. After all, nobody leads alone, and those that help you and support you also need to be lifted up. If you believe in your team, no matter what is going on, you’ll always be able to have something firm to believe in. A team that knows you believe in them will also believe in you, and together you will all be able to accomplish great things. 

Effective Communication

Communication is the backbone of any organization or relationship, and the same thing applies to being an effective leader. As a leader, you should always be focused on communicating clearly and sensitively. To be able to communicate well, you need to start by listening well. A good listener will better understand situations and the people around them and be able to respond with more effective communication. 

Once you listen fully, you then need to make sure your communication is clear and that it’s reaching the right people. Sometimes to be clear, you’ll need to make sure you’re also being assertive. Be firm in your decisions and make that firmness known, instead of hedging too many of your statements with uncertainty. 

Time Management

Everyone only has 24 hours in a day, but the most effective leaders know how to use those hours well. A good leader will keep track of deadlines and keep everything moving and on track to hitting those on time. To effectively manage your time, you should be delegating tasks that others can do and staying organized. With effective time management, leaders are able to keep projects on track but also make sure that they’re using their time to accomplish what they can. 


A good leader is someone who can be trusted. Being honest and proving that you can be trusted is an important part of being a good leader. But trustworthiness is more than just spoken honestly. To be truly trustworthy, you also need to be authentic and true to yourself. Being your authentic self will help those around you trust you and know you’re someone they can rely on. 

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How Do Students Develop Leadership Skills? 

While these are a lot of skills, they all work together, and you can continue to develop them throughout your whole life. Still, there are some ways to get started developing your positive leadership skills right now: 

  • Practice. Practice makes perfect, right? Even as a student, you can intentionally exercise these skills. Try picking 1–2 to focus on for the moment. Be attentive to opportunities to demonstrate those skills until they become natural. Then pick another couple of skills to intentionally implement into your life. 


  • Surround yourself with good examples. One great way to become a better leader is to watch great leaders in their element. Choose mentors and colleagues who exemplify these great leadership qualities and observe how they do it. Ask them questions and go to them for advice. 


  • Get involved. Join organizations and clubs where you will get the opportunity to be a leader and to practice leadership skills in real life. Tilting Futures offers leadership programs that will help you get started in developing these crucial leadership skills with real life opportunities. Together with students from 80+ countries, you can define your purpose and build leadership skills to help solve global challenges. Learn more about Take Action Lab to get started cultivating leadership skills today. 



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