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Career Readiness | High School | 21st Century Skills | Leadership

4 Best Leadership Lesson Plans for High School

December 8th, 2021 | 7 min. read

Bri Stauffer

Bri Stauffer

For nearly 10 years, Bri has focused on creating content to address the questions and concerns educators have about teaching classes, preparing students for certifications, and making the most of the iCEV curriculum system.

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When it comes to career readiness skills, most high school teachers focus on workplace skills like interviewing, professionalism, and customer service.

However, teachers are now being required to incorporate 21st Century skills in their classes.

As a career readiness curriculum developer, we hear from high school teachers on a weekly basis who need to teach skills like communication, critical thinking, and information literacy.

One of the 21st Century skills these teachers are most interested in is leadership.

While we have some lessons on leadership within our Professionalism curriculum module, some teachers only want a few supplemental resources.

To help meet your needs, we put together the four best leadership lesson plans for high school:

  1. Student Leadership Activity & Discussion from Counseling Leadership and Teambuilding
  2. Leadership Activities from Teaching and Motivating Teens
  3. Leadership Lesson from Scholastic
  4. Secondary School Lesson Plans from The Student Leadership Challenge

In this article, you’ll learn about each of these leadership lessons and activities to help you decide which ones would work best for you and your students.

1. Student Leadership Activity & Discussion from Counseling Leadership and Teambuilding


The Student Leadership Activity & Discussion is provided by Counseling Leadership and Teambuilding, a vendor on the Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) marketplace.

In the activity, students rate themselves on a variety of leadership traits in three overarching areas:

  • Character
  • Work ethic
  • The little things

After students fill out the survey, you can use the suggested questions to start a class discussion about each leadership trait. This discussion could take up to an entire class period, depending on student participation.

Even though this lesson plan is short and sweet, it’s an excellent introduction activity to any lesson on leadership.

The only real downside of this resource is that it costs $2.99, which is relatively high for the amount of information provided. Teachers who want to spend more time on leadership might be better off with a lesson plan with a few more details.

2. Leadership Projects & Activities from Teaching and Motivating Teens


Teaching and Motivating Teens is another well-known vendor on the TpT marketplace.

One of their most popular products is the Leadership Activities & TED Talk Lesson on Everyday Leadership.

The purpose of the resource is to introduce students to what it means to be a leader and demonstrate how small actions can make big differences.

As part of the lesson, students watch a TED Talk on “everyday leadership.”

In addition, you get 12 total pages, including:leadership-lesson-teaching-movtivating-teens

  • A teacher’s guide
  • A synopsis of the TED Talk
  • A leadership survey
  • A note-taking graphic organizer
  • An analysis of the TED Talk
  • Small-group think tank activity
  • Class display
  • Posters
  • Exit slip
  • Afterthought documents

What’s great about this resource is that it was created specifically for high schoolers, so it’s relevant to your students.

In addition, the publisher states that the materials are designed to provide differentiated instruction opportunities to help students no matter how they learn best.

Overall, these activities are a great way to tie leadership qualities together with other important concepts like collaboration.

The only downside to this resource is that you have to purchase the product. The $3.00 price is pretty reasonable for the amount of materials you’re getting. Still, some teachers would rather teach from a free leadership lesson.

3. Leadership Lesson from Scholastic

leadership-lessons-scholasticScholastic is a well-known publisher of books and educational materials used in classrooms across the world. Along with their traditional classroom materials, Scholastic has a number of ready-to-use lesson plans and resources, including a lesson called "What Makes a Leader?"

This leadership lesson has four main objectives for students:

  • Identify leadership traits throughout a leader’s life
  • Research and analyze a specific leader’s traits
  • Compile and organize information from a variety of sources
  • Express their opinions about the person’s leadership traits

The lesson plan includes step-by-step directions for you to follow, along with some tips and related resources.

Specifically, the lesson is broken into five parts:

  1. Warm Up
  2. Whole Group
  3. Small Group
  4. Closing Discussion
  5. Extension

The lesson begins with a warm-up activity to make a list of American leaders from the last century. It’s smart to ask students to think about leaders from a variety of backgrounds and professions, such as business, entertainment, government, and sports.

After the warmup, it’s time to have a full class discussion on leadership traits. Scholastic suggests you ask students, “Based on what we already know about the leaders on the list, what are some traits that leaders possess?”

Once the class has come up with a variety of good leadership traits, it’s time to break into small groups.

Each group will choose one leader to research and answer questions such as:

  • What elements of leadership are inherent to this person? How do you know?
  • What elements of leadership did this person learn during their life? What events show this learning?
  • What leadership traits do you share with your leader?

Students should record their answers and include a list of sources as a reference.

After 30 minutes, it’s time to move on to the closing discussion.

At this point, you’ll ask one member of each group to share what they learned. After each group has shared, hold a class discussion about which traits were common among multiple leaders.

You can also ask students to write a response to a closing question that you’ll collect at the end of class.

Overall, this resource is a great way to introduce common leadership traits found in real-life leaders your students recognize.

The only downside is that the lesson only takes one class period. If you're looking for a longer lesson, you might be better served by a different resource.

4. Secondary School Lesson Plans from the Student Leadership Challenge

student-leadership-challengeThe final resource on our list is a collection of lesson plans from The Student Leadership Challenge. The Student Leadership Challenge is a program designed to help students understand their own leadership skills and work to improve them.

The Student Leadership Challenge’s lessons focus on what they call the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership:

  1. Model the way
  2. Inspire a shared vision
  3. Challenge the process
  4. Enable others to act
  5. Encourage the heart

In total, there are eight lesson plans in the collection to help you teach different parts of these practices.

Each lesson plan has a ton of detailed information, including:

  • Length of lesson
  • Overview and purpose
  • Objective
  • List of materials
  • Lesson instructions
  • Class activities
  • Student handouts
  • Discussion questions
  • Evaluations

If you use the full collection of leadership lessons and activities from this organization, you can fill more than three weeks’ worth of classes.

However, many of the resources are old (as far back as 2003), so you may want to tweak a few items here and there to freshen them up.

Even with some outdated layouts and references, this is a great collection of lesson plans to teach leadership in high school.

Teach Leadership as Part of a High School Business Curriculum

Teaching effective leadership is an important part of your high school business curriculum. Ensuring that your students know and understand how to be a good leader now sets them up for success in other business classes and in their future careers.

Depending on the amount of time you have to teach leadership and what you are willing to pay, any of the lessons in this article could be the right fit for your students.

However, we’ve found that for many business teachers, leadership is only one of the topics you’re expected to cover in a course. If that’s the case for you, you may want to consider a broader curriculum resource that meets all of your needs.

To help you better understand your options for enhancing your business curriculum, we’ve put together a list of the Top 4 High School Business Education Curriculum Resources.

In this article, you’ll discover some of the best resources you can use to teach leadership and other business subjects:

Discover 4 Popular Business Education Curriculum Resources