How TEEN LEADERSHIP SKILLS Can Aid in Mental Illness Prevention

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

When I initially thought about the topic of leadership as it pertains to teens, I thought about qualities like taking charge, striving for the highest positions of power and influence or simply being kind so others will follow. Then, my natural instinct kicked in and I did a quick google search for the common definition.

Here is what I found:

"Leadership is defined as “a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more coherent and cohesive.” A good leader is one who is always three steps ahead of the others. He looks out for the people before himself."

Makes a lot of sense to me.

Having someone with strong organization skills, selflessness and prioritizing the group they lead sounds accurate… But then I took this definition and looked at it from a different context… “being a leader in our teenage years”.

Does this definition still fit?

I'm not so sure it does.

When we're in our teenage years, generally we aren't CEOs of a corporate company, running our own non-profit or in full charge of a large group of people. Maybe a very small percentage of people are, but the majority of us are pretty average. And even putting the pressure on ourselves to be one of those select few can potentially have an adverse effect on our mental health.

Instead, what leadership in high school looks like might be; creating social initiatives within our school, working on making new friends, showing kindness above being cool, working with a group on an assignment, or making plans for the upcoming weekend.

Although some may argue that the above definition may still apply, there are also missing gaps within it’s relatability.

Yes, maybe if we become the student body president we would need to ensure the organization and priority of our peers. However, can this mentality reflect every student in the entire school? Absolutely not!

Our teenage years are about exploring who we are and who we wish to be in the future.

If we are only thinking about others, when do we get time to focus on ourselves?

If that’s the case, then let's break down and define some common leadership skills that can be more relatable and beneficial during our teenage years:

  1. Confidence

  2. Hard working

  3. Supportive

What's amazing about leadership skills is they differ based on individual experiences. What might be important skills in my mind, might be different in others. But let's learn a bit more about the ones that I feel are of primary importance. And with that being said, what is the benefit of developing and practicing these skills?

Let's start with confidence.

This can be a pretty touchy subject for some, I know it is for me. Confidence can take up a lot of mental, emotional and psychological space in our brain.

Doubt, second guessing, procrastination are a few behaviors that our confidence can impact - for some reason the teen years tend to love these kinds of struggles.

“If you don't believe in yourself, then how can you expect others to believe in you”

Have you ever heard of this saying before? It feels so accurate to me.

We are our own biggest critics, yet we often expect others to show faith and trust in us… why don't we have that same expectation for ourselves? It's important to practice being our own cheerleader and calm the concerns of our own inner critic.