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Business Education | Career Readiness | Leadership

4 Best Leadership Activities for High School Students

September 8th, 2022 | 7 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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There's no question that leadership is one of the most sought-after career skills. But among high school students, it’s often hard to find. Your students need guidance and the right projects and activities to help them become the leaders they want to be.

As business and career readiness curriculum providers, we often from hear from teachers who want quality leadership activities for their learners.

To help you inspire your students, we’ve brought together four of the best leadership activities for high school students:

  1. Leadership Activity Ideas from Let’s Cultivate Greatness
  2. Student Leadership Activity and Discussion from Counseling Leadership
  3. Leadership Activities from Teaching and Motivating Teens
  4. Engaging and Effective Leadership Resources

After reviewing these activities, you’ll have a better picture of your options to determine what will work best for your students.

1. Leadership Activity Ideas from Let's Cultivate Greatness

Let's Cultivate Greatness high school leadership activities

Erin is a high school social studies teacher based in the state of Washington. She writes about developing leadership skills in high school students on her website, Let’s Cultivate Greatness.

On her website, Erin offers suggestions for five fun activities you can use to engage students in your leadership lessons:

  1. Build Team Work by Hosting a Scavenger Hunt Swap
  2. Strengthen Public Speaking by Practicing Microphone Skills
  3. Nurture Gratitude with Writing Out-of-the-Blue Thank You Cards
  4. Challenge Creative Thinking with an “Oops” Masterpiece
  5. Encourage Goal Setting with a Word of the Year

Using these topic ideas, an enterprising teacher can quickly turn Erin’s ideas into easy leadership activities to boost student engagement.

One should note, however, that these activities don’t come with premade lesson plans or resources. You’ll need to create these materials on your own to have the most success with these activity ideas.

How Much Do These Leadership Activities Cost and Who Are They For?

Erin openly publishes these leadership activities on her Let’s Cultivate Greatness site so you can use them with your students for free.

If you like these exercises but want a few more resources, you can also purchase a leadership bundle from Let’s Cultivate Greatness on Teachers Pay Teachers.

The Student Council Leadership bundle includes enough activities to use over an entire year and costs $30.

Overall, Let’s Cultivate Greatness offers solid ideas for the teacher who just needs a little inspiration to create better leadership activities in the classroom. While the free resources aren’t for every teacher, you can purchase more complete exercises that you can easily use in many high school classes.

2. Student Leadership Activity and Discussion from Counseling Leadership


If you’re looking for a more reflective activity to use with your students, consider the Student Leadership Activity & Discussion from Counseling Leadership. Counseling Leadership is a Teachers Pay Teachers curriculum creator focusing on preparing students to be strong and successful leaders.

The activity consists of a simple survey and class discussion. Students rate themselves on a scale of 1-5 based on questions in three overarching categories:

  1. Character
  2. Work ethic
  3. The little things

After students fill out the survey, you can use the suggested questions to start a class discussion about each leadership trait. This discussion could take up to an entire class period, depending on student participation.

Because it requires students to think critically about themselves and their own capacities for leadership, this activity could be a great way to kick start professionalism lessons in your business or career classes.

How Much Does This Leadership Activity Cost and Who Is It For?

This resource is available for $2.99. However, the engaging conversations you have with your students could be well worth the price.

Having your high school students analyze their own strengths, weaknesses, and capacity to lead can be a worthwhile exercise to frame your conversations on leadership. This makes this activity a solid choice for a teacher looking for an engaging way to start a leadership unit.

Nevertheless, you’ll likely need additional activities to build out your leadership and 21st century skills curriculum.

3. Leadership Activities from Teaching and Motivating Teens

leadership-activities-high-school-teaching-motivating-teensTeaching and Motivating Teens is another reputable seller on the Teachers Pay Teachers curriculum marketplace.

The Leadership Activities & TED Talk Lesson on Everyday Leadership bundle is designed for students in grades 8-12. It uses TED talk videos (short but engaging speeches from notable individuals) to instruct high schoolers in the fundamentals of leadership.

This leadership exercise includes 12 pages of content between these resources:

  1. A teacher’s guide
  2. A synopsis of the TED Talk
  3. A leadership survey
  4. A note-taking graphic organizer
  5. An analysis of the TED Talk
  6. Small-group think tank activity
  7. Class display
  8. Posters
  9. Exit slip
  10. Afterthought documents

These activities were created specifically for a high school audience. In addition, the publisher states that the materials are designed to provide differentiated instruction opportunities to help students no matter how they learn best.

How Much Does This Leadership Activity Cost and Who Is It For?

These TED talk activities from Teaching and Motivating Teens cost $4.25.

Overall, this activity is a great way to tie leadership qualities together with other important concepts like collaboration. You can use the TED talk to help students identify and analyze leadership skills and then build upon these conversations through the remainder of your lessons.

4. Engaging and Effective Leadership Resources

ted-talk-leadership-activities-high-schoolAs their name suggests, another prominent Teachers Pay Teachers seller wants to ensure your leadership activities are both of Engaging and Effective.

Similarly to other resources on this list, Engaging and Effective’s leadership activity also uses TED Talks to communicate the importance of being a competent leader and communicator.

With this activity, you’ll receive 12 pages of materials, including worksheets for students to respond to and critique six different TED talks:

  1. "Everyday leadership"
  2. "A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter"
  3. "Try something new for 30 days"
  4. "How to start a movement"
  5. "What I learned from 2,000 obituaries"
  6. "Weird or just different"

Since the resources are digital, you can use them when working in person or as a distance learning tool.

How Much Does This Leadership Activity Cost and Who Is It For?

You’ll pay $3.50 on Teachers Pay Teachers for just this activity, or you can purchase it as part of the Engaging and Effective Ultimate Ted Talk Bundle for $13.20.

This leadership activity could be a solid choice if you want to use more than just one TED talk in your leadership lesson. With this package, you’ll have the resources to complete the exercise up to six times.

However, since these resources focus on only one type of teaching activity, you may want to consider a broader set of leadership resources to differentiate your instruction further.

Provide Leadership Activities As Part of a Comprehensive High School Business Curriculum

Depending on the type of leadership activities you think would benefit your students the most, any of these resources could help you cultivate leadership qualities in your classroom.

However, we’ve found that for many business teachers, leadership is only one of the topics you may be expected to cover in a course. If that’s the case for you, you may want to consider other curriculum resources to meet your needs.

To help you better understand your options for enhancing your business curriculum, we’ve put together a list of the Top 4 High School Business Education Curriculum Resources.

In this article, you’ll discover some of the best resources you can use to teach leadership and other business subjects:

Discover 4 Popular Business Education Curriculum Resources