ARE TEAM LEADERS IN SPORT MADE OR BORN?
COMMUNICATE. THINK LIKE A LEADER.
A team leader is a person who provides direction, guidance, instruction and leadership to a group of individual team members to achieve a desired result. Winning the game.
Teams want people who are confident, work to do what’s right, can communicate well and make the people around them better. They want someone athletes feel drawn to instead of a person they feel obligated to follow.
The sports world, particularly the part containing team sports, is continually debating the question of whether leaders are born or made.
See, it’s recognized that athletes who possess the specific physical skills as well as strong leadership skills are best suited to fill certain field positions. The hard part is finding that combination in one particular person. Some have great leadership ability with less athletic talent and vice versa. Since most coaches are very well trained in the technical and strategic aspects of their respective sports they usually feel more comfortable and experience more success developing the athletic side of the equation than the leadership part, therefore leading to the notion that leadership skills are more of an innate ability than a developed one.
There are three basic areas to consider in leadership development: the interplay between a thought process, communication and taking action.
You have to be able to train athletes to think like a good leader. They have to learn how to honestly evaluate themselves – the plusses and minuses. They have to have a fairly clear idea of where they are going. They have to be focused on finding ways to get the job done. They need to consider multiple options or perspectives before making a decision. They need to be decisive when the time comes. They need to be able to move onto the next task.
Good leaders have to be able to communicate well. They have to be able to articulate what they think and how they feel in an understandable format. They have to be able to speak in a way that people want to listen to and rally around them. They don’t have to be overly loud or vocal but they do have to be able to assert themselves in a manner that inspires, encourages and challenges.
Leadership requires the ability to act in a way that is consistent with one’s thought process and words – kind of a walk the walk concept. The actions make it real. For example, an athlete can think work ethic and talk work ethic, but failure to demonstrate work ethic alienates potential followers. The leader’s actions let other athletes know they’re in this thing together and he is willing to do his share of the work.
While it would be foolish to suggest that anyone can be a great leader, it isn’t a stretch to say that almost anyone can be an effective leader given the proper instruction.
As with any training, teaching athletes to be effective team leaders is about taking complex tasks and breaking them down into basic or root elements. It makes things easier to learn as it keeps people from getting overwhelmed.