11 Ways Your School Counselors Serve as Leaders

The need for effective leaders in school counseling has never been greater.

school counselors as leaders
Young Asian woman is emotional as she talks in group therapy. A mid adult African American man and two Hispanic young women are sympathetic and concerned as she talks. The group is sitting in chairs in a circle.

School counselors are uniquely equipped to bridge the gaps between administration, teachers, parents, and students. As the demands placed on everyone in a school community increase, it’s vital that we view and include school counselors as part of our leadership teams. Let’s make sure we recognize all they do and put their strengths to work for our students! Here are 11 ways school counselors serve as leaders in your building.

1. School counselors recognize and showcase diversity.

In many buildings, school counselors are considered the “heart” of the school. They help create an inclusive environment that is respectful, welcoming, kind, and open to all.

2. School counselors develop community partnerships.

Counseling staff work collaboratively with universities, community colleges, technical schools, local unions, military reps, and apprentice programs to provide a variety of opportunities for students. They are especially vital in ensuring underserved and first-generation students have access to and the tools to reach all possible post-high school options.

3. School counselors help during difficult situations.

Strengths such as listening, reflecting, and high emotional intelligence make school counselors valuable allies when trying to get buy-in from staff or the greater community on difficult issues. Counselors foster a culture of change via strong lines of communication and valuing input from all parties involved.

4. School counselors maintain strong home-school connections.

Counselors tend to be the liaison for parents when it comes to communicating with the school. This leadership role is especially important when assisting families who are not familiar with the school setting or have issues trusting staff.

5. School counselors maximize educational success.


School counselors can help to maximize the educational attainment of all students by providing students with mental health services (school or community-based) and developmental guidance that takes a proactive approach in helping students set and reach academic goals.

6. School counselors lead staff trainings.

Administrators who use their counseling staff (rather than outside contractors) to lead building-wide trainings can save a lot of money and gain quicker buy-in from staff. School counselors are experts on topics such as student engagement, positive discipline, suicide/self-harm, students-as-leaders, peer mentoring programs, and academic/social interventions for low-performing students.

7. School counselors protect and advocate for disadvantaged students.

Counselors identify and amend policies and practices that negatively impact disadvantaged students and advocate for equitable services for all students.

8. School counselors use expertise to bring data to life.

Like administrators, counselors are trained in data collection and analysis. They are skilled at using this information to drive decisions about placement, intervention, and overall student health and wellbeing.

9. School counselors mediate difficult situations between parents/students and staff.

Counselors are consistently looking for ways to support the relationship between school staff and parents. Acting as a mediator when one or both parties are upset about a situation is a critical way in which school counselors serve as leaders.

10. School counselors organize and lead crisis response.

Counselors are on the front lines after a tragedy has happened in a school or community. Staff, students, parents, and community members look to the counselors for guidance and support immediately following an event. Because of their training in emotional/mental, the counseling staff is critical in advocating for and teaching self-care to staff, parents, and students during a crisis.

11. School counselors empower and inspire.

School counselors inherently believe in people and work tirelessly to communicate that. By being visible and accessible at all times, their calming, caring, and encouraging presence helps support and empower staff in the building.

School counselors serve as leaders in many ways and we need to value their perspectives and strengths. They are vital to building positive learning environments in which students thrive.

Join our Facebook group Principal Life for more conversation about and insights into the challenges of school leadership.