5 Qualities of Successful Student Leaders


One of the best things students can do in college is learn to be good leaders. Students who graduate with leadership skills and experience will not only have an easier time finding a position in the workforce, but will also advance more quickly in their early careers.

Joining an honors society, joining student clubs, and volunteering in the community are all good ways to gain leadership experience as a college student. But as a student leader, what qualities should you be looking to grow and embody? Here are five key ones.


As a leader, you need to be ready to take initiative. When faced with a problem, a good leader will immediately start looking for solutions — and implementing them. For example, imagine you are the head of a student club and the administration tells you that your club needs to schedule two off-site meetings that semester. A leader with good initiative would immediately start looking for off-site locations where they could schedule meetings and contacting the owners of those locations.

Listening Skills

Remember, you’re a leader, not a boss. Leaders listen to the people who they lead and do their best to help those who they lead work together towards a common goal. As a student leader, you will be approached by students who are a part of your organization. It will be important to listen to their feedback and requests, take them seriously, and do your best to understand any issues that are raised. If you are a leader who listens well, those who you lead will learn that they can come to you, confide in you, and count on you.

Growth Focus

In the work world, one of the key goals of leaders is always to find ways for the company to grow. In the student world, being a good leader means finding ways to expand the reach and breadth of the organization you’re a part of. Maybe this means finding a way for your club to expand and welcome students in a different major. Maybe it means adding more volunteer projects to your roster. Whatever growth may mean to you, it’s important for growth to remain one of your key goals as a leader.


While you do not necessarily need to tell other students everything about yourself, good student leaders are authentic. Play up your strengths. Maybe you’re a skilled public speaker. Then, you may want to be the one who gives the speeches for your club. Perhaps you’re not so skilled when it comes to writing. Then, you will want to be honest about this and let someone else in the group handle that part.  Being a good leader does not mean doing everything yourself. Rather, it means knowing which tasks are best to handle yourself and which are best to pass off to others with different skills.

Learning From Mistakes

Student leaders are new to leadership in general and are bound to make mistakes along the way. What separates the best student leaders is their ability to learn from those mistakes. Consider what you could have done differently, and figure out how to do better the next time. If you learn from your mistakes, you’ll become a better and better leader every day.

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