Question of the Day

I know coaches are always looking for “team leaders” but there’s this one girl on my team who TRIES to be a leader but is just ignorant & bossy. Inevitably, she only hurts herself by getting on her teammates & even coaches nerves. She’s leaving next year (along with a huge majority of my team) & I want to be an effective leader but I’m afraid of being annoying to underclassmen like this girl is to me. How do I lead w/o being bossy and making people want to straight up slap me in the face?

Ha, I know exactly the kind of person you’re talking about. It’s painful being on a team with someone like that.

Step 1. Think of all the reasons why she is a poor and/or ineffective leader and why it doesn’t work … then do the EXACT opposite of that.

Step 2. I really do believe that being a good leader involves invoking a form of the Golden Rule – lead others as you would like to be led. Do not unnecessarily raise your voice or yell at people (unless they have genuinely done something to deserve it – and if they have, let your coach handle it) and don’t treat them like crap and think you can get away with it because, like you said, inevitably you’re only hurting yourself.

Step 3. Being a team captain or leader is less about telling people what to do and more about leading by example. Think of what you want your team to be or what you want them to become and then start ACTING like that. At the start of the season, hold a team meeting and set goals for the season. Throughout the year, remind your team of what you’ve accomplished so far and remind them of the goals still ahead.

Step 4. Encourage others by pushing yourself – everything you do will be noticed by your teammates so make sure you’re giving 150% one hundred percent of the time.

Step 5. Keep open lines of communication with EVERYONE on the team – not just the people in your boat or just your friends. Let it be known that if anyone is having a problem, rowing related or not, they can come to you. No judgement either. Keep an eye out for anyone who looks like they’re having a rough time. When they’re alone, either before or after practice, let them know that if they need to talk, they know where to find you. Leave it at that and don’t push the issue.

Step 6. Embrace the leadership role. Don’t act like it’s a burden but don’t do what this girl is doing by trying to force the role upon herself. If people see that you’re dedicated to the team and you’re committed to becoming a good leader, people will be more open to accepting you as their captain. Try not to channel Napoleon and develop a complex.

Step 7. Don’t wait to become a leader – do it now! You don’t have to wait until this girl is gone to start leading your team. Don’t incite a power struggle whenever you’re around her, just start doing the things that a leader should do. It’s up to you to determine what your team needs. Talk with your coaches and explain that you’re not trying to cause drama or anything like that, but you’d like to see someone take a more effective leadership role on the team. Since you’ll be a senior (I’m assuming) next year, you felt that it would be good to begin gaining that experience now. Ask if there is anything you can help with or anything specific they would like you to do and then go from there.

Talk to this other girl and ask if there’s anything you can help her with. If she says “OMG yes, nobody ever listens to me when I try and do … (whatever)”, take that opportunity to say “OK, I’ll see what I can do” and then go do it. If she says “nope, I’m good” say “OK, well, if you need anything or get overwhelmed with (whatever), feel free to let me know” and leave it at that. Don’t make it blatantly obvious to her that she sucks as a leader and you think you can do better. Let her come to you. In the mean time, find little things you can do to start building up your rapport with the coaches and your teammates.


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