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What Makes a Good Leader? | Leadership Skills for Primary Students

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Photo of Emma (Teach Starter)
Updated | 3 min read

As upper-year students near their final year of primary-level education, there is a certain amount of responsibility that is placed on their shoulders. Whether they have ‘official’ leadership positions or are simply the oldest cohort, they need to understand the importance of their roles as student leaders. They need to develop strong leadership skills. Most importantly, students need to understand what makes a good leader.

Being a student leader is about more than just helping to hand out certificates on assembly! Being the eldest students in the school is a lot of responsibility. Students have a responsibility to younger students as role models and buddies, and to each other as they work together to get ready for high school.

So, how can we prepare our students as they enter their final year of primary school?

Being a good leader isn’t rocket science! Help your students develop the qualities they need to embody as leaders of the school with these handy resources and ideas.

9 Qualities that Address What Makes a Good Leader

We’ve developed a Leadership Qualities – Poster Pack with 9 essential qualities to promote leadership skills for primary students. These colourful posters will help your students easily understand how they can be at their best as primary school leaders. The ideas behind these posters make wonderful topics for class discussions. Why not try incorporating these resources into your classroom by doing the following:

  • Introduce the posters to your classroom. Ask your students to find examples of how they have already been demonstrating leadership qualities in their everyday lives and create a whole-class display.
  • Introduce one new quality or skill a week and work on a variety of activities to promote that quality.
  • Brainstorm with your students who they see as leaders and the qualities those people possess. Then, introduce the poster set and make connections to your class discussions.

What Makes a Good Leader? Leadership Skills for Students - Poster Pack

Communication Skills and a Trustworthy Nature

Communicating isn’t just about being a confident speaker! A good leader knows when to speak, how to speak, and also how to listen effectively. In order to inspire trust in others, students must speak with good intentions – this means speaking with honesty and kindness.

Creativity and Flexibility

Modelling a creative and flexible mindset is important as students learn to process increasingly complex ideas. Leaders are able to collaboratively solve problems and work with others to come up with amazing answers.

What Makes a Good Leader? Leadership Skills for Students - Brainstorming

Why not complete a brainstorming activity with your class to answer a question such as “How can we improve our playground for next year’s student leaders?”


Good leadership is not about being ‘in charge’! Rather, it’s about supporting those you are leading.

Student leaders need to take responsibility for their actions and choices. They recognise that owning your actions is a step in maturity that is necessary as they enter high school. Alongside this, is the responsibility they have to not lay the blame on others for their decisions.

Motivated and Positive

Having a positive mindset is integral to inspiring and leading others! This can sometimes be difficult for students as they come across more difficult work and transition into high school. Helping students keep up motivation goes a long way to promoting leadership skills in students.

Talk to students about having a growth mindset (or use some of our fun resources!) and encourage your class to motivate each other towards common goals. Being motivated and motivating others is a big part of what makes a good leader.

What Makes a Good Leader? Leadership Skills for Students - Growth Mindset

Committed and Leads By Example

Perhaps the most important quality of all! A great leader leads by example.  Younger students often look up to older students with awe and admiration! They closely watch and copy the behaviour of older kids, and so a good student leader understands their responsibility as a role model to the younger years.

Not only do they recognise this responsibility, but a good leader is excited about the opportunity to lead and guide others! They would never ask anyone to do anything which they are not willing to do.

How do you encourage leadership skills in your school? Comment your ideas below!

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