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How To Develop Leadership Skills In Teenagers

My teen is an introvert who has a natural aversion to taking the spotlight.

As an introvert myself, I’ve always wondered how this affects leadership skills in teenagers because it’s such an essential skill for success in life.

I’ve come to learn that many teens prioritize extroverted traits in a leader, such as being popular or loud. They don’t realize that being popular doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good leader.

They often overlook creativity and intelligence, which they don’t consider essential qualities to look for in a leader.

Unfortunately, adolescents who never have the opportunity to be leaders while growing up might struggle to develop leadership skills later on in life.

Why Is It Important To Teach Teenagers Leadership Skills?

Leadership skills are essential for teenagers because they help them better their lives and those around them. For example, they might become a sports team leader or lead the discussion in a school group project. Learning these skills early on will help them be successful in their careers and relationships and develop into successful people later in life.

10 Ways To Develop Leadership Skills In Teenagers

So what are some practical ways to encourage and teach your teenager to develop leadership skills?

1 – Consider Their Peers & Activities

Who are their friends and peers? What opportunities do they have to get involved in leadership at school?

Consider giving them opportunities outside of school hours among a different set of peers. Extramural activities outside the school will allow them to become leaders without worrying about popularity as they might do at school.

For example, Scouting provides teens with opportunities to grow personally and socially, to become more self-sufficient, and it teaches them valuable life skills.

For my eldest son joining the Scouts has been a real game-changer. Scouting has given him more confidence, responsibility, and a wider group of friends.

How To Develop Leadership Skills In Teenagers

2 – Use An Authoritative Approach To Parenting

Parents who have an authoritative parenting style set clear rules and limits for their teens.

Then they enforce consequences when their teenagers don’t follow the rules.

At the same time, authoritative parents are supportive by being emotionally available and warm — they listen to and communicate with their children.

Importantly, they allow their children to test the rules and learn from them.

It helps to work together as a family to define your values, expectations, and boundaries. Define the consequences upfront with your teen so that there aren’t any surprises when the rules get broken. This way, teens are more likely to follow the rules because they helped define them.

Children who have grown up within this framework are more likely to assume leadership roles at work and in their communities later in life.

Maria Rotundo, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management says:

It doesn’t mean all children of authoritative parents are going to become leaders, but they are more likely to.”

The researchers from the University of Toronto used data from a long-term Minnesota study of twins and published their findings in the June 2009 issue of The Leadership Quarterly.

3 – Help Them Develop Self-Confidence

Leaders are not born but instead made through a series of experiences — which takes both time and practice.

Often anxiety and fear and get in the way, leading to a preference not to risk trying something new.

Avoiding risks can lead to missed opportunities and sets a negative pattern that can persist into later life.

They must develop positive self-esteem so they can take healthy risks and solve problems in life.

Below is a TEDx talk where a teenager discusses his “Lessons on Self Confidence.”

In summary, his 5 steps to develop self-confidence in teens are:

  • Find yourself
  • Stop caring what others think of you
  • Surround yourself with encouragement
  • Self-assess your attitude
  • Be humble


4 – Encourage Them To Try New Things

Discuss the activities they might like to try, then make a list and suggest that they pick one from the list every week or month.

This project will allow them to plan and manage activities with either family or friends leading to learning opportunities along the way.

By setting this behavior pattern, your teen is more likely to try new things and get proactively involved when opportunities arise.

So encourage your teenager to commit to trying new things starting today!

Here is a list of 70 creative activities that you might want to suggest to your teen.

How To Develop Leadership Skills In Teenagers

5 – Encourage Participation in Physical Activities

Regular exercise and team sports participation will provide excellent opportunities for them to interact and collaborate with others.

Many athletes do better academically because sports build on classwork skills such as memorization, repetition, and learning.

Sports teach teamwork and problem-solving skills; as a result, physically active teenagers tend to score higher on leadership skills.

Additionally, team sports will enable them to develop healthy self-esteem and habits.

If your teen does not enjoy team sports then a more solo activity like strength training might be more appropriate.

Weight training has been shown to have mental benefits in addition to the many physical benefits.

You might also be interested to know that there are many benefits in weight training for teenage girls.

How To Develop Leadership Skills In Teenagers

6 – Encourage Healthy Communication & Collaboration

Effective communication is at the core of all successful relationships.

As a result, all leaders are at their core excellent communicators who can facilitate collaboration with others.

By modeling successful communication, you’ll essentially teach your teen to become a more effective leader.

A crucial part of effective communication is learning how to listen to others.

You can teach them to listen to others by allowing them the freedom to express their thoughts, ideas, and opinions.

Use empathic parenting and active listening to repeat what they have just said to show that you understand their message and validate their feelings.

Teach your teen to be respectful in both the tone of their voice and in the words they use.

One of the best ways to command respect is to be warm and considerate toward others.

As such, you should parent by demonstrating warmth and competence rather than by dominance and fear.

This will show your teen understand that they can have more influence over others by being trustworthy and likable.

7 – Teach Problem Solving Skills

Teenagers should learn that they cannot simply disagree without providing solutions of their own.

Next time you disagree, flip the script on them and ask them to help solve the problem.

This will teach them to focus on developing solutions to problems.

Great leaders attack problems head-on and have a vision of what they plan to achieve and how they’ll make it happen.

How To Develop Leadership Skills In Teenagers

8 – Encourage Assertiveness

Some people struggle with assertiveness more than others by being too passive or a people pleaser.

It would greatly help if you taught your teen to stand up for their right to be treated equally and fairly.

They should learn to express their thoughts and opinions openly without ignoring the feeling of others.

Explain that how you speak has a substantial impact on how effective your communication is.

Your teen should face the person they’re addressing, stand with a confident posture, and look them in the eye. They shouldn’t frown or appear hostile.

A confident communication style will lead to them becoming better communicators, more responsible, and less likely to give in to peer pressure.

Another strategy is to teach them to understand and communicate their emotions more positively using “I Statements.”

For example, a statement like “I feel angry when Mom nags me about doing chores all the time” is better than “Mom I hate you because you’re always nagging me about doing the dishes!”.

This strategy comes off as less critical and argumentative, plus it helps the other party consider your point of view.

Start using this communication device yourself to see the benefits.

Lastly, praise your teen when they positively display assertive behavior.

You can say something like: “I really admire the way you shared your feelings with me in a respectful manner.”

9 – Teach A Strong Work Ethic

Teaching your kids a strong work ethic will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Start by modeling a solid work ethic at home and explain how to prioritize work and fun.

Also, make sure that they experience the positive results of putting in the work.

If that involves getting good grades on a test or achieving a personal goal that they set for themselves — make sure that you compliment them on their success!

Find a motivator that will encourage them to build on their work ethic.

For my son, that’s the desktop PC that he’s busy saving up to buy. He’s motivated to help with chores to earn some extra money to help him achieve this goal.

How To Develop Leadership Skills In Teenagers

10 – Encourage Them to Overcome Challenges

Encountering adversity is a part of daily life and how we approach these challenges is one of the biggest hurdles we face.

How we deal with these challenges defines our approach to life and, ultimately, how successful we become in our relationships and careers.

Openly discuss your teen’s challenges with them.

Through experience, they’ll learn that life isn’t fair and that dealing with setbacks can be challenging.

Explain that sometimes it will feel like life is only giving you lemons.

Please encourage them to approach life with determination, grit, and perseverance when tackling school and life’s emotional challenges.

If they avoid negative self-talk they’ll feel happier and gain a healthier sense of self-worth.

Ensure that you’re always available to provide a solid emotional and moral compass during their ongoing journey through life.


As you can see, it’s critical to develop leadership skills in teenagers.

Developing these skills early on is likely to result in better outcomes for them as adults, both in their relationships and workplaces.

Hopefully, this post has given you some ideas for developing better leadership skills in your teenager to give them the tools to approach their future with confidence.

You might want to encourage your teen to read “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens” by Stephen Covey’s son, Sean.

He has adapted his father’s New York Times bestselling book for teenagers, and it’s an excellent starting point for teens trying to develop an action plan based on their needs and interests.

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens