Taking Part in Leadership Roles as a Student

It may seem like leadership is only for specific types of people. It’s not. Find out how you can become involved in leadership and what the benefits of  it are right here.

I’ve always seen myself as a rather shy and introverted person. Especially as I entered my teenage years. I was extremely awkward around new people. Yet somehow I found myself getting involved with leadership roles throughout high school and after.  I was asked to join the leadership at my church youth,was nominated and chosen to be on the student council for my grade and often found myself taking charge in group work and other settings.

I was REALLY confused by this. Leaders, in my mind, were dominant and powerful. They were the guys who everyone adored and looked up to. They told people what to do and people obliged. So how was I, a shy teenager who hated public speaking, so involved with leadership?

Honestly, I had no idea.  Not until a few weeks ago when I started chatting to people about leadership and why students should take part in it. I know that it helped me become who I am now. It definitely helped me grow. But why was I chosen?

Servant Leadership

I chatted with a few different people to gain a better understanding of good leadership. Three of the main people I spoke to were Drikus Janse van Rensburg – owner of Sword Systems, Sheldon Muller – worship and youth pastor, and Sharna Hayes – a kickass woman who has always been actively involved with leadership and her community throughout high school and varsity.

All of my conversations had one thing in common: good leadership is servant leadership. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be walking around bidding to everyone’s will. It simply means you will lead with others in mind. It enables you to lead selflessly and be considerate of those around you when making decisions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocSw1m30UBI

Being a Leader as a Student

Now some of you reading this may be naturalborn leaders and have all of the qualities typically seen in leaders – and that’s great. You need to continue embracing your leadership abilities and feeding your leadership in a positive way. If you’re like me, you don’t see yourself as a leader and you aren’t actively involved in anything. And that’s okay.

BUT, here’s why you should try get involved with any form of leadership

  • You learn to look outside of yourself.

This means you learn to think about the people around you, not just yourself.

“If you’re not willing to look outside of yourself, you’re not willing to build a new skill, you’re building your own empire.” – Drikus Janse van Rensburg


  • Commitment.

“I think commitment is one of the best qualities you can have,” says Drikus on the matter. Without commitment, how can your followers trust you?


  • Relationship building.

“You can’t be a leader without relating to people.” –Sheldon Muller


  • It helps you become outgoing.

  • It teaches you how to overcome many obstacles. Those obstacles include your own insecurities and struggles.

  • There is a lot of character development from failure.

“You can’t be a leader without being aware that you’re going to fail. […] You have to trust in yourself and believe that this is going to work out and even if it doesn’t, you have to look at it and go at it again.” – Sheldon Muller


  • Your confidence will grow remarkably the more you take risks.

  • You learn to work with and in a team.

“You learn how to ‘flex’ the power you possess, when to submit to things and when to stand strong on a decision.” – Sharna Hayes


All of these skills and growth in character, will help you to become a better you. And, as a result, a better leader.

Sometimes kids have the best opinions:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQfrcOX5tW4

The cool thing about being young and wanting to get involved with leadership, is that the opportunity is everywhere. Whether you’ re in high school or in varsity, you just need to put yourself out there and get involved.

Personally, my greatest growth in leadership, and as an individual, was at my church youth group. Often, I was put into situations that were not in my comfort zone. I made a decision to embrace the challenges and grew. What exactly did people see that made me a leader? Sheldon has this to say, which relates to my situation:

“A lot of people talk about the charismatic leader and the more introverted leader. I’m not sure I care about those things. I want to make sure that whoever that person is has influence. They can be a quiet influence or a loud influence, but for me, as long as they have people following them, they’re a leader.”

The point? A leader needs to have influence. People need to be aware of you and listen to you. Whether you’re introverted or extroverted, shy or outgoing, you can have an influence. This could be in a chess team, sports team, grade council, youth group, a community centre, drama group, dance group, orchestra, literally anywhere.

How Does it Help My Future?

There is actually a really cool answer to this question. When I was in matric, I received a letter from Stellenbosch University wishing me luck in my matric finals. Many of the other students, who were actively involved in my school, also received this letter. Why? They saw potential in us.

“Universities and colleges want to assist young, potential leaders in reaching their full potential as leaders.” – Sharna Hayes

As you may have heard, your generation is the future. Somewhere among you, sits the next president. Universities want to help shape these leaders to be the best that they can be. Of course they’ll be keeping an eye on said leaders.  

“Be the best that you can be. It’s boring to be anything less. You either try and be the best that you can be or you go home. Go big or go home.” – Drikus Janse van Rensburg

Get out there and get involved! It’ll help you and best of all, it’ll help everyone around you.

Some Encouragement

It may still seem scary. You can definitely see the benefits of being involved, but it may go totally against your nature. I understand. Here are some voices of encouragement:

“Don’t worry about being a natural born leader. Find the thing that you enjoy doing and go do that to the best of your ability. Before you know it, you’ll be leading.” – Sheldon Muller


“A lot of people want to deny their past. If you want to deny your past, you are not who you are. When you build on truth you build on bricks. When you build on lies you build on sand. So decide what you want to build on.” – Drikus Janse van Rensburg


“Keep in mind that you are serving others and the biggest strategy or style to use is to lead by example.” – Sharna Hayes


“Leadership isn’t something that everybody is good at, but understanding good leadership is important for those being lead as much as it is for those leading. Students should take every opportunity to learn about leadership, regardless of which side of the coin they sit.” – Benjamin Rath


“We need to get over our fear of how extraordinarily powerful we can be in each other’s lives. We need to get over it so that we can move beyond it.” – Drew Dudley 


“When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel.” – Eloise Ristad 


To sum it up, if you embrace the fact that you are likely to fail at some point, you’ll realise that those failures will teach you irreplaceable lessons and you’ll benefit greatly in the long run. You need to embrace the truth of who you are and shine your light on the world.  People want to be able to relate to you. In turn, they’ll follow you because you’re human and not some perfect person who doesn’t know what it’s like to struggle or fail.

LeadershipBe the person that you want to see. When you do all of this, people will see the power you have.  They will also see the compassion and love you have for people. Selfish leaders may seem like they have it all, but people follow them out of fear and not loyalty. As soon as they find a leader who cares about them as individuals, they’ll follow that person. Have influence, but have a positive influence. Be a life changer.

EduConnect 2cents

A huge contributor in building up leaders for our country is the much loved ex-rugby player for South Africa: Francois Pienaar. He started the MAD Foundation to help students reach their full potential as leaders. Perhaps you could get involved or garner some inspiration from him.