3 tips for student leaders


By Luke McKenna


For your student leaders, it is certainly time to ensure the rubber meets the road. How can your student leaders make a lasting impact in your school community?

Read on to find out how- and get our three top tips and a couple of our most useful tools for student leaders that you can use right away.


Years ago, I was school captain at my high school. I was committed to doing the best job I possibly could. I thought leadership was all about making speeches, presenting cheques to charities, wearing a badge with pride and shaking hands with important people. Little did I know that the greatest impact that I would have on someone during that year would not be based on these formal aspects of the role, but instead based on relationships, influence and example. It had nothing to do with being in the position of School Captain.

As adults, this might seem obvious, but as a student, I thought it was wearing a badge and holding a position that made me a leader. John Maxwell says that “Leadership is influence- nothing more, nothing less”.

So if it isn’t the speeches we make or the people we meet that gives us influence, what is it? I believe Albert Schwetzer provides us with the answer: “example is not the best way to influence people. Example is the only way to influence people.” Lead by example.

Let’s remind our student leaders that they are in a position of leadership as a result of the example they have already been for other students. Sure- they have a particular role to play which must be taken seriously, but the best way for them to influence the people around them is to “let their own light shine.” In doing so, they “give others permission to do the same.”

That’s influence, and that’s real leadership.



The best leaders are not those with all the strengths and no weaknesses. The best leaders do not try to do it all. Solo leaders are exhausted, they are lonely and they don’t last long at the top.

Instead, the best leaders recognise the strengths in those around them and encourage them to rise up and grow their skills. Great leaders are confident enough in their own abilities to ask for help. Great student leaders recognise that it is more about the impact produced by the team than it is about their own impact. They are self-aware and socially-aware.

In order to help staff and students understand their strengths, and those of the people around them, we have developed a simple 15 question survey that helps students understand their strengths (and that of their team members) as a prophet, planner, or people leader. Grab a copy for your staff or student leaders to complete today.  It will help your student leadership team function much more effectively.



As an Assistant Principal, part of my role was supervising student leadership groups in a school. Over time, I noticed a pattern emerging…great ideas would arise from the group during meetings and the group would proceed to talk about them for a few weeks, with no action happening. It was frustrating!

I realised whether it was an idea for a fundraiser, free dress day, sports event, house challenge or just about anything- the idea had absolutely no impact if it didn’t lead to an action. No action = no impact. Theodore Levitt once said “ideas are useless unless used”.

This is why we created the idea to action framework for student leaders- so that student leaders could stop talking about ideas and start doing them. If your school would like help with getting ideas into action, you can grab our easy to use framework here for free. It will save you hours of meeting time.

To sum up: leadership is influence, leadership is a team sport and leadership is an action.


All the best for your lifelong journey of leadership.

Don’t forget to grab the giveaways here >>

If you’d like the UPP team to work with your senior students or with your leaders, drop us a line today.