Thursday, January 28, 2016

Leadership: Part 2 - Create a Leadership Team

Leadership has many definitions according to Webster, Wikipedia but more importantly to each person.  Defining leadership can be an activity that you choose to do with your staff and eventually with your team.  Start by first identifying what good leadership looks like to you and how you want to see leadership on your team.  By communicating what expectations are for leaders within your program, you will minimize or even eliminate confusion.  

Once you have developed your desired leadership for your program then begin to discuss: how will this leadership be developed? About my 5th year into coaching, we developed a "Leadership Team" for our program. This was in addition to the 2 captains that the players voted on.  The leadership team was a part of organizing team bonding activities with the coaches. This gave them the opportunity to get engaged and feel a sense of ownership.  It also helps the coaches stay in tune to what kinds of things the players really wanted to do and stay current on their likes or dislikes.  The Leadership Team's Meetings were a safe place to open up about current issues going on with the team and discuss positive ways to resolve any issues.  The meetings were always full of energy and we normally started each meeting with a reading from a Jon Gordon book or a John Maxwell video to spark the conversation.

The players really enjoyed these meetings and other players not on the leadership team began to ask me what they needed to do to become a leader on this team.  This is where positive peer influence came into play and we began to start a trend of players wanting to not only get better on the court, but become better people and choose to lead.

How did we go about choosing the leadership team?  We let the players vote on the captains that they felt would represent the team in the best way on the court and communicate effectively to game officials.  We as a coaching staff choose the leadership team and it started with 5 players that we saw potential in and wanted to see them grow.  They were NOT our starters, our best players or leading scorers but instead the people that had influence on their teammates.  Those were the ones we needed to corral, build up and guide them in the way we needed them to lead their team.  As the season goes on, we may add players to the leadership team that begin to show positive qualities.

What do you do when you have a player that won't seem to buy in?  We all have had several players that tend to test boundaries more than others.  One player in particular, I had join the Leadership Team on a probationary status-meaning she was invited to leadership meetings but was not able to join in discussions, just had to watch and listen.  She was put in charge of cleaning up before and after each meeting, making sure we had pens, paper and my Ipad was set to go on the video we would watch before each meeting.  She was given an extra hour of study hall with me in my office, because as you may have guessed, her grades were not where they needed to be.  She was in charge of making sure we had all supplies out for practice and everything was cleaned up after practice with me.  Each day I saw her I would greet her with a smile, a hug and motivational quote and as she and I went through preparing each day together, I saw a change in her body language.  She began to feel wanted......needed even. As the weeks went by, I would open up the door for study hall and she was there greeting me with her A she got on her test.  Proud as could be and wanted to show me first.  She changed being around the leadership team by hearing positive thoughts, ideas and conversations and actually began to buy in. I saw a change in that kid's behavior on and off the court.  At the end of the semester she wrote me a long note saying how much she appreciates my tough love and not giving up on her like everyone else did.  I say all of this to encourage you to pull those rebels closer to you because that is usually a cry for help.  Now looking back, the leadership team not only benefited us as a team but made those players feel empowered to be accountable, hold each other to a higher level of expectation and respect one another for their unique gift that they bring to our team.

Leadership is a tough subject and after talking to several coaches, I began surveying some coaches and players on the definition leadership to try to identity it within a team.

As we continue to discuss leadership, I would love to hear your thoughts by completing this short 5 question survey at the following link: