Tag Archives: collaboration

Helping Our Captains Lead With Integrity

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“The most effective form of leadership is supportive. It is collaborative. It is never assigning a task, role or function to another that we ourselves would not be willing to perform. For all practical purposes, leading well is as simple as remembering to remain others-centered instead of self-centered.”—Great Leadership Isn’t About You

Teaching our athletes to lead is a big job.  Failing to set the ground rules for what you want leadership to look like can lead to hazing, “mean girl” tactics, cliques, and ultimately ineffective performances. We can’t expect our athletes to know what we want if we haven’t explicitly laid it out for them.  In the absence of a coach’s direction, the athletes are going to fill in the gap and I’m sure we can all agree that that probably won’t go well!

I believe our team leaders want to be taught and I know our teams want to be led by captains who make it easy to follow them.  What leaders are easy to follow? The author listed some characteristics in the quotation at the beginning…those are a good start:

  • I rely on my captains to be a go-between. They work closely with the team as well as the coaching staff.  Ideally, they understand that they perform an important role in the team’s success.  They should be close enough to their teammates that they know when things are going a bit sideways and they need to tell the coaches.  But they should also know when not to tell the coaching staff.  My most effective team captains squashed issues before I even knew what was going on!
  • Our teams are faced with the conundrum of needing to be both collaborative and competitive.  If you’ve got two players who play the same position, they will both benefit from in-practice competition, but surely they know that once the whistle blows at game time, they’re expected to support the team…whether or not they’re on the court.  Collaboration should be built into our team cultures, our captains should always be looking to take advantage of opportunities to collaborate.  Asking the younger players questions and not creating a “captain clique” will help create those collaborative feelings on the team.
  • In the trenches. I don’t want captains who say, “Freshmen always do ________ (insert task here).” Freshmen (or newbies) shouldn’t always carry stuff, be expected to defer to upperclassmen, or be treated in a second-rate manner.  That kind of behavior signals insecurity in the leader.  It’s hard for players to follow a captain that lacks confidence and tries to raise themselves up by pushing their teammates down.  Everyone pitching in helps to create good feelings among the players, regardless of how long they’ve been with the team.
  • Other-centered. I’ve had captains who would stay after practice with a lesser skilled teammate and help them with skill work…that’s great.  I’ve had captains who’ve told me about a teammate who beyond-the-norm homesick…that type of concern is necessary.  And we’ve had captains who, after I’ve announced that perhaps an extended conditioning session would be more productive than working on skills, gather the team together to figuratively whip them into shape.

Of course I’ve had ineffective captains as well, but that’s not what this post is about!  It’s about giving our team leaders the necessary skills that make them easy for their teammates to follow.  If we set the standards high for our captains, they will rise to the challenge.

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Jingle Bell Rock: 8 Christmas Wishes For The Athletes You Coach

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It’s crunch time people…only one more day to find that perfect gift for everyone on your list.  Though I suppose at this point, it doesn’t really have to be perfect, does it?  I do have a list of gifts that would be perfect for your team to receive this year.  Gifts that would make them better teammates and better players.  They may not know that they need these gifts though, so you’ll need to write up a wish list for them.  Here they are:

8 things you’d be fired up for Santa to leave under your player’s Christmas trees

1.       Confidence.  In themselves, in their abilities, and the future of the team.  It’s essential to any sort of success your team may have…and it’s got to be consistent.  Situational confidence is short-lived, to be crushed by the next loss or poor performance.  But genuine confidence?  Now that’s the good stuff!  It’s a belief held deep down within the athlete that they will ultimately be successful.

2.       Success. We love our athletes, don’t we?  And we want the best for them and hope that all of their hard work and focused intensity will pay off in the end with some sort of tangible success.  Whether it’s the non-starter who becomes a starter, or the starter who makes all-conference, or the all-conference player that receives national recognition…we all hope for a measure of success for our players.

3.       Self-motivation. In my mind, the best gift that Santa could leave!  Every drill, every game, every weight room workout is only as good as the amount of effort our athletes are willing to put in.  For those who are internally motivated to work hard in the off-season, during preseason, in the weight room…those are the athletes who will see tremendous improvement over the course of their careers.

4.       Hard work. There’s only one person who knows if your players are working to their full potential…that’s the players themselves!  We can put them into physically and mentally challenging situations, but it’s up to them to truly challenge themselves.  We all hope that we’ll have a team full of players that will never “dog it” in a drill or not push themselves in a practice, but we’ve got to trust them to take things seriously.  Those athletes who are willing to keep their foot on the gas pedal throughout the entire season will ultimately experience success.

5.       Leadership. The responsibility of being a team leader is exciting to some and daunting to others.  We’d love for our teams to be full of leaders and leaders-in-training.  Your current leaders could model to your leaders-in-training the proper ways to motivate and encourage people.  An openness and desire to lead is essential because I don’t think that you can thrust leadership onto someone, but rather it must be accepted.

6.       Teaminess. That’s a word that I’ve made up that describes the state of an individual who values their teammates and enjoys being in a team environment.  The teamy player puts their teammates first and is willing to sacrifice personal glory for the good of the team.  Teaminess is what occurs when a group of people come together with a common goal, a common purpose, and a common level of dedication.

7.       Skill. Hopefully Santa will leave a gigantic box of skill under our player’s trees!  Because all of the intangibles in the world won’t do the team much good if it’s not combined with skill.  But those intangibles should spur the player on to work at their skill level with a laser-like focus.

8.       Hunger. I’m sure we’ve all coached the athlete that was blessed with a tremendous heaping of skill, but junks it away with their laziness.  I’m not talking about that athlete, but rather the one who is very skilled and willing to work to better their already finely tuned skills.  The athlete who wants to win and be successful so badly that they can literally taste it.  The player who is being propelled by their desire to get better every single day.

Those are the things that I want for my players.  They’ve got a finite amount of time to accomplish great things and my wish for them is that they do everything within their power to attain their goals.