youth leadership education

13 Ways Teens Can Gain Youth Leadership Training (Free Printable)

Please Share With Your Friends!

Last Updated on December 13, 2023 by Sarah McCubbin

Youth leadership training is really a combination of skills and experiences that help prepare teens to take an active part in their community, family and future. It usually involves both traditional classroom learning and hands-on experience that prepares teens to be leaders in the future. Leadership education for teens helps them become confident adults who care about the needs of those around them.

(Links on this page may be affiliate links. If you purchase through a link, we may earn a commission. Dislaimer Here)

As parents our goal has been to prepare our kids physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually to step into their own unique life callings. This is something most parents want for their kids. But how to help them do that is a challenge!

Do you remember when we all had to read maps to go somewhere? We started learning how to read a map in first grade. It was SO IMPORTANT that ten years before we would ever drive a car, they started teaching us to read a map! Each year, the mapwork would get progressively more difficult. In first grade it started with a few streets on a paper, some houses, the park, a school and store. It was very simple. By the time we could drive, we could read maps that had thousands of roads, hundreds of towns and cities and all manner of geographical markers.

I think of leadership education for teens like reading a map. It begins in little incremental steps that gradually build over time

youth leadership training

What Is Leadership Education?

Leadership education is a set of experiences and training designed to prepare a person to confidently be “in charge” in their area of influence. That could mean someone feels comfortable leading their family or taking a leading position in a volunteer or work environment. Leaders face unique challenges because when a group is trying to navigate problems, the final decision is often made by just one person. That can feel like a lot of pressure.

If someone has been actively learning how to deal with conflict, be comfortable with failure and work with others to solve problems, then this kind of role is easier to navigate.

When parents take an active role in leadership education for their teens, they are looking down the road to prepare them to be confident, independent adults who are servant leaders.

What Is The Purpose of Youth Leadership Training?

Together with social skills and life skills, leadership education prepares teens by giving them the tools they will need to navigate situations as adults AND help others do the same. Instead of learning everything as adults, it allows them to learn and PRACTICE these skills before they need them so they are comfortable using them when it actually matters.

In the business setting, leadership education serves that specific purpose…to help a person gain the skills they need to lead large and small organizations and have the confidence to be in charge while working with others.

But leadership education matters for ALL teens. Whether our kids grow up to be the CEO of a company, a general in the military or a mom guiding her children in the world, we want them to know how to make decisions as a leader.

Free Printable Checklist!

How Can Teens Learn to Be Leaders?

Teens can learn how to be leaders through any experience where they have an opportunity to take on responsibility and they feel the weight of following through. Being a leader is about social skills and life skills but its also about learning how to keep your word, navigate challenges and learn from failure. Good leaders do not make excuses, so helping teens take ownership of their situation, is essential to leadership development.

13 Ways Teens Can Gain Youth Leadership Training

In each of the examples below, teens may have the experience of being the leader…or being under the leader in an organization. Both are great positions to learn in. Being under a good leader is obviously prefered, but even being under a bad one can have a ton of learning opportunities. On the flip side, when teens act as leaders, they can learn from their successes and failures!

9 Tips on Raising Kids Who Learn From Success and Failure

1. Volunteer for a Non-Profit

Volunteering will often give students access to environments they are not yet qualified to work in. Volunteering can give them valuable experience, build their resume and allow them to get feedback from others. Volunteering can be hard work, so it also helps them develop resilience which is absolutely needed to be a leader.

25 Benefits of Volunteering for All Ages!

2. Get a Job

Getting a job allows teens to understand the hierarchy of organizations and how people get promoted. In an entry level job, they will be under different leaders and will come to understand good and bad leadership through first hand experience. If they work there long enough, they may be promoted and get the opportunity to direct others under them.

Here are 10 Reasons Teens Should Get a Job.

3. Serve Others Who Need Help (Family, Neighbors, etc)

Leaders are the kind of people that see a need and step in to help if they are able to do so. They can practice this mindset by serving others in their community. Even though teens may not have a lot of resources, they can use what they have to help others. This lesson is key for leaders because there is always more to learn…but we can start with what we have.

4. Teach Younger Kids a Skill or Lesson

Part of being a leader is learning to transfer what you know to someone else. Teens can practice leadership when they teach something to sibling, teach a Sunday School class or teach a skill in a club environment.

5. Participate in Clubs

Clubs are a great way for teens to understand organization leadership structure inside an interest-based group.

6. On an Athletic Team

Teams have both a team captain and a coach. Both are examples of leaders in a group setting. By participating on the team..either as a member or a captain or coach, they can experience what it takes for leaders to move a whole group of people in the same direction.

7. Attend a Leadership Camp

Leadership camps are great for allowing students to practice critical thinking skills that are necessary for leaders who are often weighing out difficult choices. I highly recommend both Teen Pact and Worldview Camp for preparing teens to go out into the world and have relevant and engaging dialogue with people who may not believe the same way.

8. Read Books

Of course reading books is a fantastic way to explore all kinds of leadership topics. Teens may benefit the most by reading biographies about great leaders. A great book for teens to work on practical time management that all leaders need is called, Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy.

9. Be Mentored By a Leader in Their Chosen Field.

Many leaders have opportunities for high school and college students to interact with them. That may be an internship, a mentoring opportunity or just a chance to ask questions over lunch. If your teen wants to learn from someone in the community, encourage them to contact them to see if they would be willing to mentor your teen.

teen leadership training

10. Learn to Ask Leaders Good Questions

Leaders are everywhere…at work, at home, at school and in the community. What teens learn from them will largely be limited by the kinds of questions they ask. It is worth practicing questions at home that will lead to meaningful information when they talk to leaders.

11. Get an Internship

Internships can be an excellent way for your older teen to gain work and career experience that will build their confidence and connections in the real world. It can also give them exposure to leaders in their chosen field with whom they can interact regularly.

12. Network With Adults

Teens can start now building up a network of connections. They can keep their network current by using the contacts in their phone or through social media. LinkedIn is espeically helpful for building up professional connections.

13. Practice Public Speaking

One skill that every leader needs is the ability to confidently speak in front of others. Teens can build this skill through speech classes but also through organizations like Toastmasters and speaking in front of people whenever they have the chance…even if it is uncomfortable!

youth leadership training

7 Youth Leadership Programs for High School Students

My kids have participated in several youth leadership programs for high school students. Initially we stumbled into leadership education because my friend’s kids were attending Worldview Camp. The parents were so impressed by the impact by the way their children engaged on topics in the culture that they raved about it on social media ALL THE TIME. So we took a chance and sent our two oldest. Worldview Camp was absolutely life changing for both of them. They developed valuable critical thinking skills that supported our values as a family and enabled them to confidently engage with people of different backgrounds.

How Do I Find Youth Leadership Programs Near Me?

  1. I have found that youth leadership programs are easiest to find if you start with your child’s interests and find organizations that support those interests. The organizations I have listed above are national organizations but they may not all have local chapters. You can of course Google “Youth Leadership Programs” but many organizations do not call themselves that.
  2. Another way to find youth leadership programs is to ask in your local Facebook groups. My town has an active Facebook group and people ask for all kinds of random things in there.
  3. If there is a national organization you are interested in joining, you may want to contact them directly with your zip code to find groups nearby. Not all local groups are listed on national organizations.
youth leadership training

Youth Leadership Programs and Training Should Be Both Intentional and Practical

There are an endless number of opportunities to be a leader. So as teens consider which opportunities to explore, they should look at areas they are interested in first. And once they have identified a few areas, they need to ask and observe what it takes to be a leader in that area. What qualities do military leaders…or athletic leaders..or government leaders…or business leaders have that set them apart from others. Once they ask and observe, teens can then begin to take steps in their own life to lead others around them.

Sarah McCubbin, founder of Ten Minute Momentum, is dedicated to helping parents confidently parent their kids by teaching life skills, social skills and leadership skills. As a child she was the kid that never quite fit in and is on a mission to help others understand the building blocks we all need to be successful adults. She lives in Ohio with her husband Mike, and 9 kids ranging in age from 5 to 21 where they use homeschool, private school and public schools for their kids education!

More Reading: