Pat Summit wrote, “You won’t win consistently without good team leadership…You’ve got to have players who are willing to buy into your system, demand the best from themselves and their teammates, and hold their teammates accountable.” Great teams have leaders in the locker room, setting the tone and leading by example. Does your program need to invest in a leadership council?
Spartan Leaders in the Locker Room
Michigan State was down going into halftime during a game in the 2016 NCAA tournament. Tom Izzo, head coach of the men’s basketball team, was interviewed before heading to the locker room. I’ll always remember what he said.
He said that their seniors would already be coaching the team on what they needed to do in the second half.
Coach Izzo knew he had quality leaders on the team that knew what it takes to win. He knew they would step up and lead their teammates. Coaching was not left only to the coaches.
The same could be said for many great teams. Great teams don’t depend on one individual (ie. the coach) to lead the team.
In sports, they may be called captains. In business, these are your informal leaders. In churches, these people are lay leaders. The bottom line is that every team needs leadership within their ranks.
Every Team Needs a Leadership Council
I recommend every team I work with to develop a leadership council. It’s important to foster individuals to be great teammates. However, when you empower certain athletes to lead, you take your team to another level.
Here are 3 very practical reasons every team should have a leadership council.
Champion the Team’s Culture
A leadership council echoes the vision, values, and standards of behavior for your program. These elected individuals carry the torch on behalf of the coaches, staff, and team. They are ambassadors for what your team believes and what each team member has committed to. They help protect your culture.
Confirm the Standards
Every team should have an agreed upon standard of behavior. Your leadership council helps ensure everyone remains above the standard. Most importantly, they lead by example. They hold each other and their teammates accountable. This is done by enforcing proper attitude, effort, and behavior on and off the competition surface.
Collaborate with Coaches
While every player needs direct access to their coaching staff, the leadership council serves as a conduit. This group assists coaches in making decisions that impact the team. They advise coaches on issues and concerns that arise about teammates that are beyond the leadership council’s delegated authority. They take the initiative to make the team better.
To help you identify the ideal athletes for your leadership council, start by looking for those with the 10 Qualities of Championship Teammates.
Expand & Empower Your Leaders
“Talent is important. But the single most important ingredient after you get the talent is internal leadership.” – Mike Krzyzewski
Coaches simply cannot be everywhere all the time. Expand the reach of your philosophies, culture, and standards through your leadership council. Empower team leaders to take ownership of the team and positively influence their teammates. Give them a platform, a voice, and permission to lead. You won’t regret it.
Question: What are other reasons to develop a leadership council in your program?
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