The tough part of assuming a leadership role as a high school or college athlete is that you may not be comfortable communicating with your teammates in a confident and assertive manner.
In Part 1 of "How to Become a Team Leader," I discussed the importance of winning your class and how that factors into being an effective leader.
Another skill I have found useful in becoming a great team leader is the ability to listen. By that, I mean actually listening to your teammates when they speak to you, not just hearing what they're saying and waiting for your turn to sound off.
You must be able to provide positive feedback when applicable while being sensitive to your teammates' thoughts and feelings.
I've written about the importance of having a trusted member of your support network help keep you on track. As your team's leader, you must be willing and able to assume that responsibility and serve in that capacity for your teammates.
For example, when we were teammates at Penn State, I had an interaction with Tamba Hali, now a Pro Bowl outside linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs. After a practice, I noticed that Tamba wasn't in the best of spirits. He didn't have a great practice that day, so I approached him and asked what was wrong.
It started with Tamba expressing his frustration about a pass rush technique he could have done better in practice, but quickly shifted to a conversation about a family issue he was dealing with. I learned so much about him and his life outside of football just by simply listening to him. From that conversation, I found out how to talk to him and get through to help him whenever he needed someone to talk to, whether it was about football or an issue he was dealing with off the field.
Being a good leader is not just about what you do on the playing field or what you say to your teammates; it's also about the little things you can do to help your teammates and, ultimately, gain their respect as a leader.