3 Things We Can Learn from Student Leaders

students at a table

You can feel the energy the moment you walk into our annual Student United Way Leadership Retreat. The cause of that energy: about 100 student leaders who think know they can change the world. 

Last weekend, these students gathered not just to learn skills in areas like digital communications, design thinking, diversity and leadership styles—though they certainly did plenty of that. They also gathered to teach these skills to each other and their chapter advisors. 

Here are three insights we learned from student leaders who led workshops at the retreat.

  1. Crafting your own personal mission and vision statements can make you a better leader. We know how important it can be to create mission and vision statements for organizations we're involved in, like Student United Way. But we as individuals need that kind of guidance, too! Student leaders from a Student United Way in Indiana showed us how creating statements to give yourself direction can also strengthen the direction of your organization.
  2. Strong partnerships can make all the difference. The Student United Way of Wilmington University was driven to do something to combat the prevalence of bullying in schools. By partnering with local elementary schools and the state’s Deputy Attorney General, they didn't just impact a few students. They reached more than 900 students with their messages of peace and anti-bullying. 
  3. Empathy is critical to good leadership. When conflicts arise, leaders must first work to understand how people are feeling. As the Student United Way of Oakton High School demonstrated, when you start with empathy and then move to solutions, you can address the root problems and effectively lead when things get complicated.

Students like those who led these three sessions are changing their communities and the world. That's the kind of energy we could get used to.