Being a leader in the locker room can be a challenging task for a young person. Some of it may be God-given, but most of the qualities that make a good leader can be learned.
During my freshman year at Penn State, I paid special attention to how the team worked. Who were considered the leaders on the team? What qualities did they possess that made them strong leaders?
I will never forget a conversation I had with a senior cornerback named Bruce Branch. I asked him why everyone on the team always seemed to be hanging out at his house and always wanted to know what he had going on. His response was, "We've been kicking it since freshman year."
That statement really stuck with me, and it made me assess my freshman year differently. What I learned was to win your class, because eventually, the players in your class will be the senior leaders on the team. If the leaders respect you, then the entire team will.
Now, winning your class is not an easy task. You must possess a strong work ethic and show that you care about the team and winning. I say "care about winning" because that is why we play: to win.
Winning is universal and easy to understand. At the collegiate level, where every athlete is competitive and works hard to win, the mindset of winning is something your teammates can see and feel. They can hear it in your voice when you speak and see it in your eyes.
As a team leader, you must understand that not everyone will like you as a friend—that's nearly impossible to achieve—but they will respect you, and that's what's most important.
Return to STACK.com for Part 2 of this 3-part series to learn about the most important communication skill of effective team leaders.
Photo: Eric Schwabel
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