Balancing Academics and Leadership: Tips for Students in Leadership Roles


Serving in a leadership role is a great way to round out and enhance your college experience. Students who graduate with leadership experience tend to have an easier time finding jobs after graduation. They are also likely to rise through the ranks more quickly and be granted positions with more authority and independence. But how do you make the most of your leadership experiences in college? Here are a few tips.

Delegate to others.

Serving in a leadership role can sometimes feel like you’re expected to do it all and handle all of the responsibility on your own. If you’re feeling this way, it is a sure sign that you need to delegate. Identify certain tasks that others will excel at, and assign those tasks to other people on the team. The ability to delegate well is something that sets good leaders apart. It will keep you from becoming overwhelmed, give others opportunities to contribute, and ensure the work is done from a range of perspectives. Delegating also helps you get to know the other members of your team and their talents. 

Embrace your leadership style.

Everyone has a different leadership style. Some people lead by digging in, side by side, with their group members. Others lead by setting expectations, making assignments, and then turning people loose on their own. Still others lead by surveying the group and then finding ways to compromise on decisions. As you start leading, you will soon get a sense of your natural leadership style. Lean into it. If you’re a side-by-side leader, for example, try to connect with the group as much as you can. If you’re more of an assignment-giver, make sure the assignments you give are really fair.

Amplify others’ opinions and voices.

As the leader of any group, part of your role will be making sure that others in your group are heard. Use your position to amplify their voices. For example, if your group members have expressed frustration with a company you’ve hired to make posters, you could send an email to the company expressing those concerns and asking for them to be addressed. As the leader, you’re the voice of the group; use that voice well.

Ask for feedback.

In some leadership roles, there is already a process in place for requesting feedback from the group. In other cases, this may be something you have to do on your own. You could send out an anonymous survey, or simply let group members know you’re always open to receiving anonymous notes from them. When you do receive feedback, whether good or bad, take it seriously. Make note of ways in which you could improve, and then come up with steps you can follow to make those improvements. A few weeks or months later, ask the group if you’re doing better.

Being a student leader is an experience that will serve you well, not only in college but for the rest of your life. Lean into this position, and follow the tips above. If you focus on delegating tasks, listening to your group members’ needs, amplifying others’ voices, and asking for feedback, you’ll be set for success. 

Are you still looking for leadership opportunities? Consider becoming a member of NSCS. Leadership is important to us. In fact, it is one of our three pillars and a core focus of our student experience. 

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