Every team needs inspirational leaders, and every coach is looking to recruit their next inspirational leader. But what does it mean to BE an inspirational leader?
Inspirational leaders are not necessarily the most talented on the field, or the most senior on a team. They are not necessarily the athletes that start and play every single game. Inspirational leadership is something that every team needs in order to achieve success.
Here is a collection of qualities that inspirational athletes possess that inspires others want to follow them.
- An Inspirational Leader must understand the team philosophies, day to day objectives, short and long term goals and share these with team mates in a way that inspires others to strive toward these same goals.
- An Inspirational Leader should listen as well as she speaks. So that she understands how her team mates work, what they need to inspire them, and what they need to be motivated to get the job done.
- An Inspirational Leader communicates clearly, concisely, and often. They are a constant voice on the field, and off. They are able to use their words to motivate everyone to give their best, all the time.
- An Inspirational Leader must have the respect of her team members so that when she speaks, others listen.
- An Inspirational Leader is able to identify conflict within a team and help to find a positive solution.
- An Inspirational Leader works to build relationships with other members of the team, across all classes both on and off the field.
- An Inspirational Leader behaves professionally and responsibly in all matters at all times, and is able to take negatives and use that to inspire change.
- During post game interviews with fans and media, an Inspirational Leader is able to give credit to the team, and identify and recognize the efforts of others.
- Inspirational Leaders walk the walk. They are sure of themselves, and lead their team not just with words, but with action.
- Inspirational Leaders understand that setbacks are just that. Setbacks. And are able to generate excitement and motivate the team to move forward with a focus on the final goal.
- Not all inspirational leaders show their confidence in the same way, Some have an outgoing, boisterous confidence and some have a calm, quiet confidence. There is benefit to having multiple leaders on a team, as not all team members will relate to one type of leader.
Energetic – Challenging – Positive
- Inspirational Leaders are Enthusiastic. When a leader is motivated and excited about competing and playing, their positive attitude is contagious and team mates will be more inclined to follow.
- Inspirational leaders challenge their team mates to be better every day.
- An Inspirational Leader leads by example
- An Inspirational Leader avoids drama, doesn’t gossip and is generally a source of positive thinking.
Committed – Consistent – Focused
- An Inspirational Leader is completely focused on doing what it takes to reach their goals and the team goals. They arrive at the field ready to work and stay focused on the job at hand.
- An Inspirational Leader will be the first player onto the field, and the last player off the field. They will work consistently and relentlessly not just during season, but year round.
- An Inspirational Leader always does more than is expected – stays longer, runs farther, competes hardest.
Honest – Integrity – Respect – Accountability
- An Inspirational Leader does what they say they are going to do, when they say they are going to do it.
- An Inspirational Leader knows that if they value honest, ethical behaviour on and off the field, they will earn the respect of their their team mates and coaching staff and others will follow suit.
- An Inspirational Leader will always take responsibility for their actions, they will never blame someone else or make excuses. If a mistake is made, or an unfavourable result is had they will take responsibility, face the consequences and move forward.
- An Inspirational Leader takes responsibility for everyone’s performance, including their own.
- An Inspirational Leader should realize that treating others with respect will in turn earn respect.
- An Inspirational Leader has a strong moral compass, follows the team rules and expects those around her to do the same.
Organized – Flexible – Adaptable
- An Inspirational Leader is always prepared for team meetings, they have done their homework and arrive with notebook and pen.
- An Inspirational Leader will take charge of training sessions in the absence of the coaching staff, or organize extra training sessions in the off season.
Take a moment to reflect on how many of these qualities YOU bring to the field. Make yourself more marketable to recruiting coaches by developing these skills along side your technical and tactical sport skills. Walk the Walk.
I leave you with a TEDx talk from 2009. It’s a bit long (18 minutes), but there are some very interesting thoughts on how great leaders inspire action. If you don’t have a lot of time to watch, watch from 15 minutes until the end where Simon Sinek uses Martin Luther King as an example of inspired leadership:
“He didn’t tell people what needed to change, he told people what he believed. I believe. I believe. I believe. And people who believed what he believed took his cause and made it their own. There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of authority, but those who lead inspire us. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
Give it a watch, and see if you can apply the same concepts to being a leader on your sports team.