How to Be an Effective Team Leader
You don’t have to be elected as a captain in order to be a leader on your team. To be a leader you need to set a positive example and be a role model for your teammates, as well as do everything in your power to elevate and improve their abilities. In many senses being a team leader requires you to be a mini-coach, and it is not a responsibility you should take lightly.
Not everyone can handle a leadership position, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. It is important that you understand your own limitations before trying to assume a role that you are not well suited for. In order to be an effective leader, the Association for Applied Sports Psychology emphasizes the “3 Cs”: caring, courage and consistency. Caring is important because as a leader you must care not only about the success of the team, but also the success of every individual player on the team. You need to make it your mission to improve the chances your teammates succeed, and therefore your team as a whole succeeds. A leader needs courage because there will come a time when you have to reprimand your teammates. You shouldn’t do this when they make a mistake, that’s the coach’s job, but rather when you feel they are lacking effort or acting in a manner that is detrimental to the entire team. Finally, you need to be consistent; you have to approach every game and practice like it could be your last, as if it is the most important of your career and always give 110% effort.
Your teammates will look to you to see how they should be acting, so you can never project anything but confidence, determination, and a desire to be the best. As a leader you have to influence your team members in a positive manner. The best leaders lead by example; do as I do not do as I say. Your goal is to be respected not feared, if your teammates respect you they will not want to disappoint you. They will recognize how hard you are working and use that to motivate themselves to work just as hard. You want to include your teammates in as many decisions as possible—part of your role as a leader is to make sure everyone on the team feels like an equal. Help your teammates utilize their strengths, as that will not only allow them to feel like they have an important role, but will also increase your chances of winning games by having everyone concentrate on the role they are best at.
If you are not elected as a captain it is okay to be disappointed, but you need to resist the temptation to sulk and feel sorry for yourself. Instead you should approach the season with a stronger drive and make a point to prove to your teammates and coaches that they made mistake in not electing you a captain. That is not to say that you should be spiteful, but prove to them that you are a leader. Many coaches will add an additional captain midway through the season because a player demonstrates his leadership qualities so effectively that the coach realizes he made a mistake in not recognizing the individual’s leadership from the start. Even if that doesn’t happen, learning to be an effective leader is an important skill and will serve you well both on and off the playing fields.