Are you looking for fun, engaging, and educational student leadership activities? TEEN TRUTH is here to help! 

Over the years, our team has developed valuable student leadership materials and programs for our Student Leadership Summit. We are happy to share some of these activities with schools for free! You can also check out 3 FREE Student Leadership Worksheets and our Guide to Creating Student Leaders. Continue reading to check out some of our student leadership activities!

How to Motivate Your Student Leaders

We think it is important that our leaders understand the stages of MOTIVATION. If you want to motivate your leaders, you must first understand these three words:  COMPLIANT.  OBLIGATED.  OPPORTUNITY.

Leaders that are Compliant:  these types of leaders will NOT last.  Essentially these student leaders are just responding to the demands, rules, or will of the adviser.

Leaders that lead out of Obligation:  these types of leaders are taking a step in the right direction because they feel some responsibility, but still, in the end, their mindset is more of a HAVE TO versus a GET TO.

Leaders that see the Opportunity:  these types of leaders need little or zero external support.  They see their leadership role as an opportunity to serve, to give back, to make a difference, to create school spirit.  These types of leaders are self-motivated to go above and beyond.

Motivating Student Leaders Exercise

3 Ways to get your leaders to SEE the OPPORTUNITY:

Leadership Starts with You, but it’s Not About You: help student leaders see the bigger picture in why they do what they do.

Bigger than Self Cause: help student leaders understand that leadership needs to be about something bigger than themselves.

Plug into your Passion: help student leaders find something that they are passionate about and then encourage them to use that passion to serve (lead) others.

We know that in order to build great programs we need leaders who lead from OPPORTUNITY, not obligation or compliance.

Leadership About You Vs. About Them

Free Student Leadership Activity & Lesson Plan

When there’s a job that must be done, where should a leader start? There are a handful of answers to this question, but not all of them are equally effective. We’ve designed this lesson plan so that your student leaders would have the opportunity to learn and truly understand one of the most important concepts behind great leadership: a unified outlook on the mission, the vision, and the values of the group.

If you’re looking for a lesson plan that will teach your student leaders how to rally together and create a focused, collaborated effort, then this is ideal for you. So, without further delay, here are the objectives and the link to the free lesson plan!

Leadership Objective

1. To have student leaders understand the importance of “pulling on the same side of the rope” with examples from real life.

2. To have student leaders know the importance of mission, vision, and values.

3. To have students leaders know the difference between a company with No Mission vs. Knowing the Mission vs. Being on a Mission.

Download Lesson: Mission Vision Values Lesson

Leadership About You Vs. About Them

Use This Simple Activity to Ignite Your Student Leaders

Have you or your leaders ever heard someone say:

  • “We’ve always done it this way!
  • Or, “It worked last year, so let’s just do it again this year.”
  • Or even, “Why change anything? That’s just more work.”

These statements are completely DE-motivating to new and returning leaders in your program.  They diminish any hope of creativity and freshness!

On the other hand, student leaders naturally want to CREATE, to make their own mark, to explore new roads to school spirit and service.

Here’s Our Leader Creativity Activity

That’s why we created this simple activity. It’s designed to help launch a discussion on how current student leaders can BUY into what your program is trying to accomplish.

Students participating in a leadership activity

My Favorite Decision-Making Tool for Leaders

In my last grad school class with Dr. Garcia, he handed me a sheet with a large oval in the middle. Around the outside of the oval were several small circles. He said, “JC, I like what you’re doing with TEEN TRUTH, but you’ll have some big decisions coming up. This little tool should help. Imagine that big oval is your giant meeting table, and the people on the outside of this table are your board of directors. They’ll help guide your decision process whenever you have questions or troubles.”

I understood the value of the exercise immediately, and filled that puppy out that same night. My board of directors included all of the heroes from my life: my parents, my old football coach, Martin Luther King, Dr. Garcia, and of course Batman.

That sheet has never steered me wrong, so I was delighted when TEEN TRUTH’s activity director, Stephen Admundson, submitted the exact same assignment for your student leaders!

CLICK HERE to download Dr. Garcia’s board of directors leadership activity.

My board of directors sits here at my desk for me to view anytime I need. The question is will you take the time to write down your board of directors? Or will you just pass this assignment on to your students?

My hope for you is that Dr. Garcia’s leadership activity can guide you and your students, just like it has for me.

Leadership Drawing Exercise with eyes closed

A Quick But Effective Leadership Exercise

For this simple but effective leadership exercise, everyone needs a pen and a paper. Place a blank sheet of paper in front of you, in the landscape direction. And use the following script: We are all going on a vacation. Close your eyes. Keep them closed and I will tell you when it is okay to open them. We are going on a vacation to a tropical island, so draw an island in the middle of your paper.

  1. To the left of the island, draw a ship
  2. You are surrounded by water, so put some fish in the sea
  3. This is a tropical island, so put a palm tree on the island
  4. It is a nice day, so put some birds in the air
  5. That ship didn’t get there by itself, so put a sailor on the ship
  6. The sailor might get hungry, so put some coconuts on the palm tree
  7. Sailors like to see where they are going, so put portholes on the ship
  8. Sailors like to see entertainment, so draw a hula dancer on the island
  9. It is a sunny day, so put a sun in the sky

Okay everyone open your eyes and see how you did…200 points possible. Person with the most points wins!

  • 10 points if your island is in the middle
  • 10 points if your ship is to the left of the island, but not touching it
  • 15 points if you have more than one fish
  • 20 points if the base of the palm tree is on the island
  • 15 points if more than two of the birds are in the air
  • 20 points if the sailor is on the ship, not swimming
  • 15 points if any coconut is on the tree
  • 25 points if any porthole is on the ship
  • 25 points if the hula dancer is dancing on the island
  • 20 points is the sun is to the left
  • 15 points if the sun is to the right
  • 10 points if the sun is in the middle


  • Don’t rush the PROCESS, rather enjoy it. Don’t be in a rush to get to the PRODUCT.
  • Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance
  • Trust the vision even though you can’t see the end product.
  • Guidance is key. Model what you want others to do.
  • Go Beyond. Go the 2nd Mile. Exceed Expectations. (More fish)
  • Successful leaders have VISION.
  • Take calculated risk. Don’t be afraid to “fail”.
  • No idea (drawing) is a bad idea (drawing).
  • Anticipate the little things and do them without being asked or told.
Students working together in a leadership exercise

The Leadership Pyramid Progression Chart

As you meet with your student leaders to reflect on the past year, you may find this simple pyramid extremely helpful. The purpose of this tool is to guide your students to the next step of their leadership career. From the sort of leader who can handle only a few independent tasks all the to a leader who can make decisions autonomously with confidence, this chart will help point them to the next level.

Draw the pyramid on your board, and have students reflect on what each level means to them. Once you’ve highlighted the key components of each step, ask your students where they think they are and have them set goals for the future.

Four Levels of Leadership:

Each step in this process is an important developmental stage, and it’s a good idea to encourage your students to be honest with themselves and to recognize that, regardless of where they are starting, simply by taking the time to analyze their current leadership skills, they are utilizing an important ability which will improve them as leaders and as students.

Building Better School Leaders One Activity At A Time

If you end up using any of these student leadership activities, we’d love to hear how it goes!

For even more leadership resources check out: 

President & CEO, TEEN TRUTH

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