5 Student Leadership Styles That Will Mess Up Your Team

Posted on November 10, 2015

No two student leaders are alike. This is a good thing because there is no one-size-fits-all leadership style that works in every situation. Different circumstances require different student leadership styles.

However, there are some student leadership styles that never work. NEVER, EVER. Here are 5 student leadership styles that are guaranteed to mess up your student leadership team, as well as hints on how to avoid them.

(NOTE: This post is written specifically for adult advisors/sponsors and student officers in CTSO organizations, Student Councils, 4-H, Beta Clubs, etc.)

1. Lone Ranger Leadership

This is the #1 leadership shortfall for most student leaders. Perhaps it’s because young leaders believe letting go of the reigns is a sign of weakness. Or maybe they like being in total control of everything. Whatever the reason, far too many student leaders try to do everything themselves. Yet Lone Ranger Leadership always messes up a student leadership team because the moment a leader starts doing everything by himself or herself is the moment the team becomes a one-person show.

Avoid Lone Ranger Leadership by equipping team members to discover one another’s strengths. Then, design leadership activities that teach team members how to work together based on their strengths.

(Kent recently launched a hands-on leadership workshop entitled Bust Your Signature Move. Through music, interactive experiences, and some hilarious dance moves, students learn how to recognize their strengths (aka “signature moves”), lead from their strengths, and encourage other team members to do the same. Click here to have Kent contact you with more information.)

2. Mission-less Leadership

Do student leaders know why your organization exists? Without clearly understanding and embracing the organization’s mission, student leaders might stay busy, but their efforts will likely weaken the organization instead of strengthen it.

Mission-less Leadership is avoided when student leaders learn to ask the why and how questions. Why does our organization exist? How do our plans fit into the organization’s mission? These two questions will keep student leaders focused on the organization’s mission.

3. Too-Much-On-My-Plate Leadership

Is your organization’s calendar overstuffed? Trying to squeeze in too many activities guarantees sloppy events which eventually leads to poor attendance and low morale.

Avoid Too-Much-On-My-Plate Leadership by focusing on a few, big priorities and running hard after them. Do few things and do them well, because the enemy of the best is often the good.

4. No Communication Leadership

With all the communication tools available today, it’s amazing how many student leadership organizations struggle keeping people informed.

No Communication Leadership is avoided when a strong communications team is equipped and empowered. Hold them accountable for communicating with everyone about everything. They should communicate with members of your organization, students at their schools, school officials, district leaders, state leaders, and even national leaders. Additionally, be sure they create systems and checklists that remind them to communicate regularly in the most natural ways with each entity (e.g. website updates, social media updates, emails, etc.). Never forget that consistent communication is one of the most important aspects of recruiting and retaining strong members.

5. No Room Leadership

Sometimes an established student leader feels threatened by a younger, up-and-coming leader. Don’t be this kind of leader because the best leaders surround themselves with other strong leaders.

Current student leaders can avoid No Room Leadership by being a mentor. They can invite younger members into leadership positions and coach them in developing their own positive leadership style.


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