Transfer Leadership from Advisor to Student Leader

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “How do you get your student leaders to do so much?”  Or in other words, “How do you transfer leadership or ownership from advisor to student leader?”

After having a great conversation about this topic with my students, here is how we would answer the question above!


  1. BELIEVE:  As an Activities Director we must believe in and TRUST our student leaders.  Often times we have a hard time trusting that our students are capable of accomplishing a certain task.  A huge part of transferring leadership is our ability to believe in our student leaders.
  2. EXCEED: We must be willing to exceed the expectations of our student leaders.  Our own passion and commitment to leadership, our campus, and our community is a very contagious thing.  When our student leaders see how passionate we are about what we do, they will follow our lead.
  3. APPRECIATE:  We must appreciate our student leaders.  Let them know that they are valued and needed in our program.  Through this act of appreciation we will ultimately build a strong relationship with our leaders.  Once this relationship is established, our leaders will work hard because they will not want to let us down.  (And vise versa we as Activities Directors will equally work hard for them.)
  4. CARE:  Your student leaders need to know that you CARE about them.  They need to know that they are not just a student or a number in your program, rather they are a person who you care deeply about.  You care about their life, their extra curricular activities, their home life, etc…
  5. HUMBLE:  Activities Directors at times can be “control freaks” or have this urge to be the “one in charge”.  If we continue to behave in this manner, we fail to allow students to be leaders.  I know I know…we think that if we allow students to lead they might mess it up or not do it according to our standard!  Get over yourself!  Part of developing leaders is learning through our mistakes.
  6. ADVENTURE: As an Activities Director you need to PARTICIPATE.  Get involved!  Never require your leaders to do something that you are unwilling to do.  Dress Up.  Dance.  Cheer.  Paint Your Face.  Do whatever it takes to SUPPORT your student leaders and their wild crazy dreams!
  7. MOTIVATE: Your job is to INSPIRE your student leaders.  Push them!  Encourage them!  Motivate them!  The more you do this, the more likely your student leaders will grow in confidence and be willing to try need things outside their comfort-zone.
  8. POSITIVE: Be optimistic when your leaders share ideas with you.  Look for ways to make it happen for them.  Have a bias towards “YES”!  Do what you can to make it happen for them.


  1. Model.  Mentor.  Monitor.  Multiple.  Throughout the year my role becomes less and less as the student leaders role increases.
  2. Plan.  Process.  Product.  People.  For every activity my student leaders are required to submit a 4P’s Proposal.  This helps them take ownership of the activity.
  3. Elected Officers:  these students need to be the most committed and most knowledgibly (about the program).  Their role is way more than position and title.
  4. Communication:  Every week my elected officers create a Weekly Task Sheet.  We have one for every single week of the school year.  This sheet is then e-mailed and texted out every leader in the program on Sunday night. 
  5. Student Led Meetings:  over the summer and throughout the school year my elected officers organize and lead meetings with their teams.
  6. Student Led Lessons:  every week one of my elected officers lead a 10-15 minute leadership lesson / discussion with the class.
  7. Specific Roles:  every member of the leadership program has a very defined role and responsibility.
  8. Clear Purpose:  we have a Statement of Purpose that literally guides and unifies every leader in the program.  We are all moving in the same direction.
  9. Joshua Principle:  every Senior in the program is required to have an underclassman that they mentor throughout the year.  (Apprentice)
  10. Self Reflection:  every week my student leaders conduct a self-evaluation on their performance from the previous week and then work on making adjustments based on their reflection.
  11. Micro-managing: NOT ALLOWED

If you are interested in any of the resources mentioned above, please feel free to contact or and we’d be happy to share!