How To Build Leadership Qualities In Your Team
By Courtney Dabney

The importance of proper leadership goes beyond measure, and without it your team is doomed from the start. But what is proper leadership and where exactly does it begin? If I had to pin point it, I'd say leadership begins in the heart and mind of the head coach and trickles all the way down to the team manager. For this article I'd like to focus on some important factors of leadership and how they can reflect negatively or positively upon an entire team.

Hey coaches, please leave your negative mind set out of the gym.

Negativity feeds fear and ultimately robs a player of valuable time that should be used to develop skills within a positive environment. Some coaches make the negative choice to focus on the lack of talent on their teams, instead of focusing their attention on improving the talent they already have. This is the type of coach that infects his players with negative emotions that cause fear and mental confusion.

Players are always forming their own positive or negative perceptions based on feedback they receive from their coach, and we all know sometimes a person's perception is not always the reality. So a coach who governs his team with transparency and flexibility wins over the confidence of all of his players, because they can ensure that their voices will be heard and respected no matter their role or rank on the depth chart.

Do your captains understand what's behind the title of captain?

Coaches sometimes miss the fact that their team captains are an extension of their overall leadership. And by missing that fact, coaches make the mistake of not giving their captains a clear cut understanding of what is expected of them. Giving your captains assignments and tasks that effect the direction of the team allows them to gain important experience in leadership ability.

The captains usually have a type of access to their teammates that coaches don't. For example, players sometimes set up mental barriers when dealing with a coach or other figures of authority, so they might not say how they really feel about an issue or situation. But players are always comfortable around teammates and have no problems sharing thoughts and being themselves, and that's when a respected team captain can help out tremendously, serving as a mediator between his teammates and coach.

Is your overall vision of success clearly seen and understood by your players?

Do your players get the overall vision and message that you're trying to convey? Some coaches might wonder why do some players seem to get their intended message and in the same perspective, why do others players fail to receive it?
There may be several reasons why your message is struggling to get through to your players. As a coach, one should understand that when talking to a group of mentally developing kids with varying points of view, words are just the tip of the iceberg.

A picture is worth a thousand words. . .

Some people learn and think better with mental pictures, which are a great tool to help players see past the surface and allow them to envision themselves diligently doing the tasks and responsibilities expected of them. As a result, player misinterpretation and confusion are cut down or erased from the team structure, because a player doesn't have to guess what the coach means anymore, she now has a picture giving her something almost tangible to go from.

For example, containing as many human sensory factors as possible, a coach will write out in extreme detail describing what his exact end season goal is for the entire team. And at the bottom of your worded vision ask the question: What will be my part to help to achieve this goal? You give your vision to your entire team, and have them answer the question at the end.

Doing this will allow each member of your team to understand what you are willing to do, and what you expect of them in order to make the vision realized.

Key Note: Again, going beyond the point of mere surface talk, the players are forced to state what they intend to contribute to make the overall vision a reality; this helps them create their own responsibilities and thus serve as co-creators in the overall vision.

In closing. . .

Effective leadership is not about showing your team whose boss or scaring players into your way of direction. Some players need firm command or correction to get them back on focus, while others just need you to pull them to the side and explain your concern in a calm positive manner.

It's all about knowing your personnel, starting from the assistant coach all the way down the chain of command to the team manager. If a coach takes the time to identify the strengths and weaknesses within their team personnel, they can better understand how to utilize and get the most out of them on and off the court.

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