How High School Students Develop Leadership Skills through Community Service

Many high school students engage in community service work as part of course projects or are encouraged to participate by family members, teachers, and friends. Community service activities have positive effects as the involved students develop valuable leadership skills. Community leaders are defined as individuals who have influence and input into decision-making of groups within specific areas.


Community service work gives high school students the opportunity to pursue activities outside of the classroom and the home. New interests are explored and students are likely given more freedom than within paid work scenarios. For example, there is less likely to be supervisors who micro-manage volunteers and more likely to be scenarios where students are given tasks and left to complete them.

High school students, in these independent situations, determine how to organize their own shifts. The students also learn how to problem solve if there are no supervisors around. Students’ feelings of competence and confidence are likely to increase; these qualities are needed in effective leadership roles.


High school students may also be given opportunities in community service work that they may not have been qualified for otherwise. For example, a high school volunteer may work as a receptionist at an animal shelter and work up to office supervisor in a volunteer role. The student now has experience to add to the resume that may not have been available without the community service opportunity. The student has also learned leadership skills that will carry over to future jobs.


Many community service positions involve training for students. Many times students are introduced to new situations and are provided hands-on training to become more comfortable with their roles. The students learn that they can achieve success in new fields of work and their confidence levels are boosted. Confidence is a great trait for a leader to possess.


Community service work can even occur within the high school itself. Students may join clubs of interest, such as the debate club or yearbook group. Without much experience added yet to their resumes, many students are given leadership roles within these groups, such as preparing the club for the next regional debate.

Students learn what actions positively encourage group members and what actions are unproductive. High school students are able to transfer leadership skills learned in group projects to future jobs and be more comfortable in future leadership roles.

Students are also more likely to apply for leadership roles if they have had experience being leaders in the past. Taking the lead within high school clubs is a great way to gain the needed experience.

Community service is a valuable way for high school students to develop leadership skills. Students are provided opportunities they might not otherwise have been given access, and are encouraged to work independently. Confidence and independence of students grows when community service activities are pursued; these qualities help prepare students to become successful leaders in the future.