19 Inspiring Leadership TED Talks for Teachers and Students

Leaders speak up when they see something that needs to change.

Four different speakers teaching leadership in their Ted Talks that would be great for a classroom.

What does it mean to be a leader? This question is important to kids and adults alike. Leaders have the ability to make significant changes, touch people, and shape the world. But how do they do it? Luckily, we have some of the most successful, powerful, and influential leaders in the world as our teachers. This roundup of leadership TED talks will inspire students and teachers to stand up and lead the way forward.

(Be sure to preview all videos to ensure they’re appropriate for your audience.)

Leadership TED Talks for Students

Share these stirring videos with your students to encourage them to step up into leadership roles at school and beyond.

Jack Bonneau: Kids Can Be Role Models

Who better to inspire student leaders than a kid their own age? Kids look up to sports stars and entertainers, but they should really be looking up to other kids. Jake Bonneau is clearly wise beyond his years.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Leaders speak up when they see something that needs to change. That means that they face their fears and speak their mind. Inspire students to find their voices with this uplifting talk.

Drew Dudley: Everyday Leadership


For anyone who thinks leadership takes something “special” that not everyone has, Drew Dudley is here to prove you wrong. In less than five minutes, he’ll convince your students that every single one of them can be a leader, every single day, without even knowing they’re doing it.


Derek Sivers: How To Start a Movement

Derek Sivers uses a hilarious, quick video to show just how a moment turns into a movement. Kids will laugh, but this is one of those leadership TED talks where the laughter leads to a lesson.

Stanley McChrystal: Listen, Learn … Then Lead

General Stanley McChrystal is a decorated four-star general, making him a great source for advice on leadership. McChrystal shares an essential value of leadership: Don’t be too proud or full of yourself to learn from others because, at the end of the day, we all need one another to get through life.

Paul Osincup: Leading With Laughter

Humor is a powerful leadership school, and Paul Osincup wants to help you use it to your advantage. His open, easy style will appeal to students and encourage all those class clowns out there to consider themselves future leaders.

Lars Sudman: Great Leadership Starts With Self-Leadership

Would we need leaders in Utopia? Lars Sudmann thinks we would, but only the very best type: those who lead themselves before leading others. Find out what he means in this talk.

Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts

Susan Cain is well-known for touting the power of introverts. Your quieter students will recognize themselves in her descriptions and learn that they bring special skills to the table that make them incredible leaders.

Jim Lemoine: What Is Leadership?

Before you share this engaging video with your students, ask them to brainstorm answers to the question “What is leadership?” After the video is over, take a look at their original answers and see what was right and what they missed. Leadership might not be exactly what they think.

Leadership TED Talks for Teachers

Teachers in need of motivation and encouragement will find plenty of both in these leadership TED talks.

Kayla Delzer: Reimagining Classrooms—Teachers as Learners and Students as Leaders

“As teachers and educators, we must embrace the students of today to reimagine tomorrow.” Kayla Delzer wants you to completely rethink your classroom and encourage kids to lead the way.

Linda Cliatt-Wayman: Lead Fearlessly, Love Hard

Linda Cliatt-Wayman is a powerful, driven, and successful school principal. Linda says that if you want to be a leader, you have to really lead. No matter what kind of organization you’re leading, a little concern and respect go a long way.

Lev Bukhman: What Student Leaders Can Learn From Leadership

Teachers themselves are leaders, but they’re also helping to build the leaders of tomorrow. Find out how learning to be a leader can help every single kid be healthier, happier, and more successful at school and beyond.

Dan Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation

Leaders motivate people to succeed, often through incentives and rewards. Dan Pink shares that incentive systems can do more harm than good and offers advice on what good leaders do instead.

Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Simon Sinek has lots of great inspiration and advice for anyone who wants to be a strong leader. In this talk, Sinek shows that your mission statement motivates and that your “why” is more important than your “what” or “how.”

Sheryl Sandberg: Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders

The gender gap is real in leadership positions across industries, and education is no different. Sandburg offers pragmatic advice to help keep women from undercutting their own aspirations.

Fields Wicker-Miurin: Learning From Leadership’s Missing Manual

Fields Wicker-Muirin travels the world to learn lessons from leaders on the spot, then tries to bring those ideas to others. In her talk, she highlights three amazing leaders you’ve never heard of and shares the qualities that make them great.

Roselinde Torres: What It Takes To Be a Great Leader

Roselinde Torres argues that today’s great leaders aren’t superheroes. Instead, they’re people who anticipate change, value diversity, and are willing to think differently and make courageous choices.

John Maeda: How Art, Technology, and Design Inform Creative Leaders

Strong leaders make creativity and innovation part of their everyday lives. John Maeda shares some lessons from the fields of design and technology that will help change the way you look at leadership.

Beth Wolfe: A Teacher’s Lesson on Leadership

Every teacher knows plenty about leadership, good and bad. Teacher Beth Wolfe shares what she’s learned over the years, including the fact that you don’t need a title to be a leader.

What are your favorite leadership TED talks? Come share your suggestions in the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, 40 must-watch TED Talks for students.

19 Inspiring Leadership TED Talks for Teachers and Students