It’s easy for high school students to fall into the trap of believing that leadership is reserved for leadership positions. The editor of the yearbook. The captain of the hockey team. The treasurer of the student body. Elected or appointed positions are almost always reserved for a select few. They’re the leaders. Everyone else is just following.
I don’t buy it, and neither should you.
I’m not trying to minimize those roles, because if you do them well, you’ll learn a lot about leadership. But doing them well does not mean asking people for updates on the yearbook layout, or calling the coin flip at the beginning of the game, or giving the treasurer’s update when it’s your turn in the weekly meeting. Real leadership means leaning into situations where there is no roadmap, figuring out how to change things for the better, and getting other people to follow you.
You don’t need a leadership position to do those things.
The yearbook budget just got slashed. Without some new funds fast, no yearbook this year. Who’s going to step up and find the buffer for the budget?
The hockey team has lost eight straight games, two players have stopped showing up to practice, and everyone is starting to question the coach. Who’s going to step up and bring the team together?
The student council has some of the most engaged students on a disengaged campus. Who’s going to step up and ask the tough questions, offer possible solutions, and take some responsibility for unleashing the talent that’s assembled in the room?
Wherever and however you’re spending your time in high school, there’s almost certainly an opportunity just waiting for a leader–someone who takes charge of change, with or without a title.
Why can’t that be you?
Claire Lew, CEO of Know Your Company, wrote an interesting piece about the leadership lessons she learned while working as a restaurant hostess. High school students, please give this a read and consider two things:
1. What leadership lessons are you learning just by doing what you’re already doing?
2. What leadership opportunities are there just waiting for someone to take hold of them?