Be a leader, even if you're aren't the captain

In competitive sports, and in life, we constantly strive to stand out from the pack and to "be a leader." Naturally, the most obvious leadership role in athletics is the appointed team captain. What most players don't realize is while the title might belong to one or two players, each and every player has the potential to be a leader on their team or squad.

The CoachUp team here in Boston is a team of athletes who have all navigated the waters of competitive team sports (we're showing you the pictures to prove it below). Here are their tips for assuming a leadership role on your team, captain or not.

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Being a leader on your team is all about attitude.  Talk is cheap and means nothing if you don't practice what you preach.  If you want to earn respect from your teammates, be the culture you want to instill... behavior is contagious.  Show up early, take practice seriously, and when you or others make a mistake, correct it immediately.  - Arian, CTO

Being a great leader requires an ability to gauge the mood of your team and then lead by example to ensure that everyone is in the correct state of mind to win. When everybody is panicking it's on you to be calm, cool and collected, when everyone is feeling down and low on energy its your job to rally the troops and get them fired up. -Grant, Business Development

Bring your best self to practice every day! A well-timed joke can help lighten even the darkest of early morning practices. - Alex, Mobile Software Developer

You don't always need to be the best player or score the highest.  The best team members know when to lead, when to support others, and when to stay on the sidelines.  The team should always be first not the individual.  Everyone needs to learn how to be a great follower in order to be a great leader.   - Isabelle, VP of Acquisition + Marketing

Don't resent your teammates for being captain or for being faster, stronger or more skilled than you.  Instead of explaining the nuisances of why you aren't at their level, focus your energy on making your team better by aspiring to be on their level.    Most athletes aren't born a leader; they aspire to become one and they make their dream a reality.  Set an example for others to follow.  - Victoria, Director of Brand Communication

Being a leader is not about talent, but instead about being the best teammate possible. Most athletes do not place enough value on being a glue guy, and making everyone one else around him or her better.   Stop worrying about how YOU can be better, and start worrying about how you can make your team better. -Eric, Business Development

Find ways to empower your teammates on and off the court.  This is the sign of a true leader.  Your title makes you the captain, but it's your teammates that make you a leader.   - Max, Basketball, Business Development

And now a story on how Terry made his mark on his Division One college team...

Prior to joining the University of Notre Dame Men's Soccer team, I served as a team captain for both my high school and club soccer teams based on my individual talent - I was one of the best players on the team.

However, when I joined the Notre Dame team, I realized how low I was on the pecking order based on how talented my teammates were.  I understood that minutes on the field would be hard to come by, so I searched for other ways to lead the team.  My goal was simple: to get each of my teammates to reach his full individual potential and get collective buy-in for our ultimate team objective of winning a national championship.

For example, I conducted extra running sessions with one of our star forwards during the offseason, so he would increase his endurance and pass our annual fitness test.  As a result, he ended up passing our team fitness test his senior year for the first time and he was awarded Big East Offensive Player of the Year and drafted in the first round of the MLS draft.  Collectively, we won the Big East twice and made the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament twice.

Leadership isn't simply being the best player on the team and leading by word or example.  There are opportunities to empower your teammates and lead through servant leadership.  I'd argue that the best leaders find an opportunity to bring out the best of the team, no matter the circumstances.  They just find a way to get it done.   - Terry, Director of Sales

Best of luck to you and your athletes this season. In the words of Terry, go get it done!

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