8 Essential Qualities of a Student Leader

What makes a student leader? Anyone can wear a badge and be put into a leadership role, but this does not mean they are good or successful leaders. 

Developing students into leaders who others admire and are willing to learn from, means we need to first understand the importance of leadership qualities. This not only means understanding what the qualities are, but also to ensure these qualities are implemented.   

This is why we invest in preparing students to realise their potential, through leadership development programmes we equip them with the skills and qualities required to thrive as leaders in this world. 

For decades, people have consistently gravitated towards similar leadership qualities across a variety of cultures. We take a deep dive into learning more what the characteristics of a student leader looks like below.

  • Communication
  • Willing to serve others
  • Honesty
  • Resilience
  • Hard work
  • Positivity
  • Confidence
  • Visionary


A core element of student leadership is communication. It is having the ability to communicate openly with your team, your teachers and others around you effectively. Natural student leaders know how to make others feel included and empowered, by making their own ideas known respectfully, and creating a safe space for input.

“A leader … is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the nimblest go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realising that all along they are being directed from behind.”

– Nelson Mandela


Great leadership requires honesty amongst teammates and within the leader themselves. Honest student leaders are devoted to doing work morally. This instils trust in other students – either personally or when it comes to collaborating on assignments.

“To be believable, we must be credible, to be credible, we must be truthful”


One of the toughest qualities of being a student leader, is the ability to become resilient in the face of adversity. A student leader will develop their resilience skills and make decisions based on the situation at hand – regardless of any obstacles in their path.

“In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skilful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”

– Former U.S. President Harry Truman

Willing to serve others

Student leaders are willing to go out of their way to serve others.  This could be a situation when a peer is being bullied or requires help – student leaders will step up to assist.  We can also see this through acts of kindness and the awareness of others around them. This quality will lead others to be drawn towards these leaders, as they find their actions admirable.

Hard work

Have you heard of the phrase ‘lead by example?’ This is a great mantra to lead by as a student leader.  Student leaders don’t let the leadership title boost their ego and are determined to push themselves. Striving for brilliance and hard work is contagious, displays passion and inspires others to do the same.


Student leaders bring positivity to teams as they understand the impact it has on others, and the group’s overall performance. Positivity inspires others, encourages self-efficacy, hope and success in achieving goals. 


Self-confidence comes from knowing and understanding our own ability to judge a situation, make decisions and how to react. When a student leader exhibits confidence, their teammates trust them and feel positive with the direction the student leader is directing the team.


Student leaders are visionaries and are goal-oriented. They are able to see beyond the task at hand, at the bigger picture. They have personal desires, goals and will be able to identify the steps to get there. 

Group assignments are an ideal way to identify the characteristics of a student leader and notice the revealing of qualities.

How can Future Leaders Academy help with building our student leaders?

At the Future Leaders Academy (FLA), we help develop the core qualities of a student leader to prepare them for their next stage in life, both personally or professionally.  

Future Leaders Academy (FLA) offers hands-on engaging leadership programmes. Although our top programmes are running advanced student leaders’ trips to the Pacific Islands, we also work with the New Zealand Government, schools, corporates and clubs. See our article on the best student leadership course in New Zealand.

​Our team has a diverse background from the military, business, youth development, to government and international expeditions across New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands.  Strength from multicultural unity is an asset, and we foster that connection and understanding, to build high performing student leaders and teams.

To register or to find out more about how Future Leaders Academy can help develop develop your leadership skills, visit our Student Leadership Programme page.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Newsletter Sign Up

Fill in your details to be the first to know when courses open and other exciting Future Leaders Academy news!