By Brian Alexander, ODP Mental Skills Coach
You must lead yourself first before you lead others. In some way or another, you are making an influence on your teammates either through your actions or your words. Leading by example and vocally leading others presents unique challenges. Your personality type impacts how likely you are to gravitate toward one leadership style over another or a combination of the two. However, the most effective team leaders recognize the need to step out of their personality styles and find a combination of both that meets others where they are.
Leaders in sport are commonly viewed as captains or the best players. But just because you’re a great player doesn’t mean you’re a great leader. The best players frequently demonstrate opposing characteristics to those great leaders demonstrate. A team may even have different types of leaders—including leaders in the water, on the bench, and social leaders outside the pool. Any time you are positively influencing the well-being and performance of others, you are in the act of leadership.
Leadership demands a we mentality to action and communication. On a team there are formal leaders who are appointed to the positions and informal leaders who do not have the titles but serve and support their teammates. Great coaches and successful teams build a team culture that includes leaders for different situations.
How do great leaders do their jobs? Here are some of the characteristics of leaders who bring their teams to a higher level:
Lead to serve rather than be served
- Develop a mindset that demonstrates to others that your leadership is not about you.
Earn respect through your actions
- Teammates won’t respect your status as much as they respect what you do.
Walk your talk and earn trust
- Trust is the cornerstone of great teams, and leaders must match their actions to what they ask of others.
Make yourself available for challenging teammate conversations
- Some of the most important conversations for leaders occur outside of regular practice and game times. Be willing to listen to your teammates’ needs.
Put the needs of the team above your own
- Leaders have to put the needs of the team above their own personal demands and make the team the top priority.
Make selfless decisions rather than selfish ones
- It takes a great amount of self-awareness to recognize if your actions are driven by self-fulfilling needs or what’s in the best interest of the team.
Take the heat even if you’re not at fault
- Leadership is not always a glamorous role. Sometimes you need to take responsibility for negative stuff and bring everyone on the team together in owning the repercussions.
Learn to adjust your communication style to the needs of others
- It’s a one-size-fits-one approach to communication. Learn to become emotionally intelligent enough to understand where your teammates are coming from.
Bring an attitude of gratitude and learning every day
- Teammates will gravitate toward you when you’re pleasant to be around and humble enough to realize there is more to learn.
Contact Brian through his website: www.athletementalskillscoach.com
Follow Brian on Twitter @BA_POS_MIND and on Facebook
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