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Leadership Mindset



Leadership is a way of thinking. It begins in the head of each player with a desire to achieve and a willingness to take responsibility. Every member of a playing squad has a purposeful role to play and therefore a responsibility to him- or herself, the team and the coaches […].

Player leadership can emerge in differing forms:

  • An inspirational leader – a talent who inspires the team
  • A core group of players determined to succeed
  • An emotional leader – a player who can capture the feelings of the team
  • The social connector leader – a ‘mother hen’ figure
  • Pop-up leadership – a player nearest to the situation taking charge

When the layers are peeled back to analyse a great team, many of these elements will appear. […]

Being a Model Leader as Coach

The leadership characteristics and style of the coach create the conditions that allow player leadership to emerge. How the coach looks, what she or he says and how she or he acts send powerful messages to the players. The coach must be secure enough to allow space for player leadership to emerge and not be threatened by it. It could be said that coaches get the player-leaders they deserve!

Through intelligent use of power, authority, personality and presence, the coach is able to create a tight yet loose environment. A framework of control is established that includes a small number of non-negotiables (tight) yet enough negotiable (loose) aspects remain to allow player-leaders to shape large parts of the process. This move to increased player ownership is an important part of coaching the modern team.

The coach must always set the standard by personal behaviour, being confident and optimistic, seeing challenges not problems and focusing on what the team can do, not what they cannot do. Communication is especially important. Coaches must ask great questions and listen at least as much as they speak.

From One Goal: The Mindset of Winning Soccer Teams by Bill Beswick.
Copyright © 2016 by Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc. Excerpted by permission of Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. Available to order from Human Kinetics Canada at www.HumanKinetics.com or by calling 1-800-465-7301.

What is your Leadership Style? How do you model great leadership for your athletes and teams?