Cultivating your leadership skills in high school can help you find long-term success not only in college, but also beyond as you develop your career. The same qualities that make an outstanding high school leader are the ones that make a great real-world leader. Shaping yourself as an expert listener, a critical thinker, and a good decision-maker—even under pressure—can help you step into leadership roles on sports teams, in clubs, and in student government. If you want to make your mark as a great high school leader, check out these qualities of outstanding high school leaders below:
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1. Solid decision-making skills
A good leader is able to see the “whole field,” listen to different perspectives, make decisions, and then stick by his or her choice. Leaders do not make decisions based solely upon their “gut feelings” or emotions associated with a given circumstance, but rather by hearing multiple viewpoints and giving careful consideration of what is truly best for the group—not just themselves. Good leaders are able to separate their own individual interests from the overall interests of the group and seek to make decisions by which the entire group can grow and succeed.
2. Excellent listening skills
In any group, it is unlikely that everyone will agree on every issue. Instead of ignoring others’ input, a good leader will listen to other perspectives carefully and will respect differing opinions. A good leader knows that truly hearing the opinions of all those who he or she represents and acknowledging their roles as important within the group can help lead to group cohesion and mutual respect among members.
3. Ability to “keep cool” under pressure
Leaders are often expected to make uncomfortable decisions and to abide by tight deadlines. Being able to adapt to pressure and to think clearly and critically when under pressure is crucial to being an outstanding leader. Good high school leaders avoid making rash, heat-of-the-moment decisions, instead opting to make decisions from a calm, objective standpoint even in the toughest of times.
4. Great analytical skills
Outstanding high school leaders are often also outstanding students who are able to reason through problems logically. Think about solving a difficult math problem that spans a few different disciplines; you may have to combine knowledge of algebra, geometry, and even elements of calculus to find the right answer. Real-world problem solving is often similar, requiring leaders to apply their understanding of, for example, the social and financial aspects of a situation to arrive at a solution. Superior problem-solving skills are crucial to outstanding leadership.
5. Strong communication skills
Outstanding high school leaders are those who are transparent in their actions and decisions. Good leaders will communicate with the group throughout their decision-making processes, developing trust between them and those who they represent. Moreover, ensuring the communication is clear and effective is what makes a truly successful leader.
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Developing yourself as a high school leader and learning to take on added responsibility for a group can help better prepare you for college, graduate school, and your eventual career. Challenge yourself now to step into new experiences and roles within your school’s clubs and teams, and keep these qualities in mind as you navigate your way as an outstanding high school leader.